Getting Started on Gender Performance: The Select Five

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Jaclyn Berfond, Senior Associate of Strategy at Women’s World Banking writes about the Select Five Gender Performance Indicators – which reflect the key indicators that the industry should use to ensure they are serving women well. 


Women’s World Banking knows it is important to measure how well financial institutions are serving women clients and staff, and to continue to build the business case for women.

Last year, we introduced the gender performance manual, Gender Performance Indicators: How well are we serving women? Just a month ago, we made a Campaign Commitment with the Microcredit Summit Campaign to ensure our entire network of women-focused financial institutions report on these indicators by 2015. And today, we are thrilled to announce The Select Five, the key indicators that all industry stakeholders should use to track and improve gender performance.

What is Gender Performance?

If a financial institution is targeting low-income women, it should be able to measure how well it serves this market. If an institution serves a majority of women, it should evaluate how these clients contribute to its sustainability. And if an institution wants to be the best place for women customers, it needs to understand if it is the best place for women employees and leaders. This is gender performance. And data-backed gender performance reflects an institution’s commitment to serving women more than any mission statement ever could.

Why the Select Five?

Because looking at a financial institution’s performance from a gender lens may be new for many stakeholders, we conducted research with the MIX to identify the ‘gateway’ indicators an institution should start tracking to jump-start their journey toward gender performance excellence. Given the many financial and social performance standards financial institutions serving the low-income population are held to, it was important to us that the Select Five didn’t add to this reporting burden but instead could be incorporated into existing initiatives, while still yielding meaningful insights on gender performance.

A rigorous analysis* yielded the Select Five.

  1. Percent new women borrowers
  2. Average loan size per woman borrower
  3. Women borrower retention rate
  4. Women’s portfolio at risk of greater than 30 days
  5. Women staff retention rates

Download the Select Five


As part of our Commitment with the Microcredit Summit Campaign, we have rolled out the Select Five indicators to our network institutions and have begun collecting data in order to look at our network’s performance as a whole.

From Insight to Action

Based on preliminary data gathered from our network, we have uncovered some valuable insight into our network. For example, we found that while there had been a slight decline in the percent women clients for our network overall, percent of new women clients remained high (73%), demonstrating a continued commitment to reaching women. When looking at borrower retention, we saw that female borrower retention matched overall retention at 82%. We also found that portfolio at risk >30 days for the women’s portfolio is significantly lower than the overall PAR30 for the network (2.79% vs. 4.70%). While these findings are incredibly useful at the aggregate level, we also think that the true value of the gender performance indicators is for our network members to analyze these indicators for their own institutions, and use findings to improve service to women.


In the next year, we will be holding regional launches to enable our network – and other practitioners – to implement the full set of Gender Performance indicators and gain a deeper understanding of how women contribute to their overall performance and how well they are serving their women clients. If your institution has started to use these indicators, or is interested in doing so, let us know by leaving a comment on this post or emailing us! You can download a print-ready version of the Select Five here or if you are ready to start tracking all the indicators, you can download the full manual here.

As with many things – the first step can be the hardest. We hope you will join us on the path to measuring gender performance. If we as an industry are to help low-income women worldwide toward prosperity through financial inclusion, we need the data to serve them better.

*a review of the analysis, co-authored with the MIX, will be released shortly.

Women’s World Banking announced their Campaign Commitment as:

  • Women’s World Banking is committed to integrating the Gender Performance Indicators into its annual networking reporting, achieving 100% of network members by reporting on the GPI framework by the end of 2015
  • Women’s World Banking commits together with the Microcredit Summit Campaign to hold a series of 2 learning events during 2014 to share with practitioners and other industry stakeholders the value of using the GPI, especially the 5 Select Indicators, to help strengthen financial inclusion of low-income women and ensure we are serving these women well.

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