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Powering Women, W by ATB's gender intelligent banking
Gender intelligent banking equips women business owners & leaders to overcome barriers, access the capital & make the connections they need to thrive—their way.
By 17 November 2023 5 min read
As a woman in business, you're busy leading a company to greater impact and profit, and leading profound cultural change while you're at it. The research says it all: when more women sit at decision making tables, better decisions are made and companies make more profits.
At ATB, our mission is to create a banking experience that supports women’s success in a way that aligns with how women show up in this world. Afterall, 50% of businesses started in Alberta are started by women, and it’s been projected that a 10% increase in women owned businesses in Canada could add $198B to our GDP.
We envision a world where we power possibilities for our ATB Business clients who are women business owners and leaders to be the most successful version of themselves.
That’s where W by ATB comes in.
What is W by ATB?
W is about supporting our women business clients who are established business owners or leaders with access to capital, expert financial advice and business industry expertise through an unbiased, gender intelligent approach to banking.
“Women business owners and leaders are currently underserved by all Canadian financial institutions, including ATB,” Nikki Briggs, Head of W by ATB, candidly shares.
“Today, women are leaders, CEOs of business, work, families, and relationships—making complex financial decisions that impact more than just themselves. Women want more from their financing partners, and they deserve more.”
W by ATB is leading a reimagination of banking. We’re starting by authentically looking within our own walls—reinventing our systems, processes, training and education to provide W clients with a gender intelligent banking experience. This has led to implementing the W by ATB everywoman Accreditation Program, which guides ATB Business team members through group work and self discovery on gender behaviour differences, identifying unconscious bias and tangible takeaways to serve women more thoughtfully. Throughout the training, team members are presented with gender research, situation analysis and role playing to put teachings into practice with colleagues.
“This isn’t about fitting women into a system or environment that wasn't designed for them, as society has done for many years. It’s about designing an environment and a system that women can successfully operate within,” Nikki shares. “This is not about excluding men, or other business ownership types, it’s about being client centric—recognizing that women need something different from their bank, that women have different expectations of a relationship with their bank. Women think differently, they make decisions differently, and there is a way that we can use that knowledge to serve each segment of our community in the way they deserve to be served, rather than provide a one-size-fits-all approach.”
A women-in-business centered approach has the potential to reinvent what growth and success looks like for women-owned and led businesses in Alberta, paving the way for a significant economic benefit for the province and a profound cultural shift.
Why W by ATB?
Women deserve more from their bank
“Banking was designed a long time ago, in an era when men managed the finances of the household, the farm, the business,” explains Nikki. “It was only 30 years ago that women were not able to sign a mortgage on their own. We as a society have come a long way. How much more does it have to evolve until we start asking ourselves the question, ‘does this banking system work for everyone who uses it?’”
Women think differently than men
Since women have different tendencies in thought and perception then their male counterparts, it only makes sense that their financial decisions as business owners and leaders look different. Here are the variations in how men and women perceive elements of the workplace that our research shows:
Women face more barriers in business
“Generations of women have fought and proven that women face stronger headwinds in business than men. Now is the time that we start doing something about that,” asserts Nikki.
Specifically, we’ve seen how women have historically faced barriers in access to financial capital, social capital and educational capital.
“Women are risk aware, not ‘risk averse’ as has been popularized over recent years,” clarified Nikki. “‘Risk aware’ means women are calculated and careful. They take risks, but only risks that have been well thought through. They take their time and make sure they understand all of the complexities that could affect their decision making before they take the risk.”
Because women holistically analyze risk, they tend to err on the side of caution and can sacrifice the potential gains for lower risk—ultimately, this can result in asking for less money than they need to grow and succeed.
Women tend to have smaller networks to draw from because they focus on establishing a relationship when networking, rather than making a transaction. “Women want to develop mutually beneficial meaningful connections,” explains Nikki.
“I was recently at an ATB client event, where two of our male executives walked around the room dropping business cards on the clients’ tables. The male business owners picked up the business cards and slipped them into their pockets. The female business owners did not. They looked at the business card, looked at the person who had dropped it on their table—with no introduction or acknowledgement—and left the business card behind.
Business education often doesn’t consider gender differences and biases. “Women self-report as being less confident in financial acumen and literacy, negotiation and fast decision-making, and seek information regardless of actual competency.”
Nikki goes on to explain, “And when we look at the experience of women of color, women with different cultural backgrounds, women with different physical abilities, the path to success is very different. In order to achieve the same level of success as their peers, it includes many many more visible and invisible barriers which impact their ability to be successful.”
What can W by ATB provide you?
Get equal access to the capital your business needs to grow and innovate. W by ATB has undertaken a review and rewrite of our lending guidelines, removing bias from our credit policies, processes and systems.
Connect with ATB industry partners, affiliations, experts, professionals, peers, prospects and sponsorships that offer financial, non-financial and strategic support targeted at women-owned and -led businesses. W by ATB meaningfully connects women business owners and leaders with partners to support your success.
Access proactive and expert insight specific to your industry with gender intelligence trained Accredited Specialists, Wealth financial advisors, as well as Growth and Innovation teams to help you scale and grow.
Defy limits with gender-intelligent expertise
We're here to answer your questions, set up solutions for your business and provide expert gender-intelligent business advice. Talk with a W by ATB Accredited Specialist to discover what’s possible as we create a more equitable tomorrow, together.