Vitas Group Releases Gender Assessment Calling for Better Policies and Practices

Vitas Group recently issued a report including a Gender Action Plan that seeks to offer tailored services and a better understanding of the needs of women clients, which is expected to result in improved retention and outreach for borrowers. Vitas Group is a Global Communities enterprise established in 2006 as a microfinance holding company with subsidiaries in Lebanon, Romania, Jordan and Palestine, and affiliates in Iraq and Egypt.

In 2018 the Vitas Group launched the Vitas Values Equality initiative to raise awareness and secure from all tiers of management a commitment to embracing gender equality across the network. Then in March of this year Vitas Iraq, with the help of two external consultants, conducted an extensive assessment meeting with clients and staff to assess its staff policies and procedures, and conduct a review of its performance in client growth, retention and acquisition of new clients by gender. The report offers recommendations around client centricity and calls for a conceptual shift in paradigm from entrepreneurial finance to financial inclusion. It also calls for loan products with attributes that better meet the needs of different customer segments, and use qualitative research to segment women clients and create loan products with customized features. “Gender equality initiative reinforces Vitas’s mission and values in creating balanced societies and gives Vitas the opportunity to accompany women’s advancement especially in cultures like Iraq,” said Rola El Amine, Marketing & PR Manager, Vitas Iraq.

Regarding institutional change management for gender balance, the report calls for stronger commitment to drive the gender focus, tools for enhancing gender balance in Vitas subsidiaries, and providing recognition, training opportunities and other incentives to staff, and enhancing the work experience for women staff. The report also recommends tools for improving the grievance redress process and increasing employees’ understanding and knowledge about existing staff policies and procedures.

Vitas plans to analyze its gender-disaggregated data more rigorously and consistently to identify trends and growth rates, and use them to inform its strategy regarding client outreach, portfolio performance and client preferences. To enable it to further improve its performance. Also the main trends should be shared with other country programs in the Vitas network to learn lessons from others, which will help facilitate the institutionalization of a gender lens in Vitas subsidiaries, provide opportunities to build on the accumulated knowledge and learn from the experiences and best practices of others. Elissa LaBorde, President and CEO of Vitas Group, says the report will help women clients gain better access to financial information and products that help them excel in the business world.