Baft (Bankers Association for Finance and Trade) has launched a Women in Transaction Banking initiative to promote gender diversity and inclusion within the industry.

Baft’s Women in Transaction Banking (WTB) programme will provide networking, mentorship and professional development opportunities for women professionals to enable them to thrive in transaction banking roles, the association says.

“By addressing the gender gap in the industry, we aim to foster innovation, drive profitability, attract more talent and create a more inclusive environment within transaction banking,” it says.

Deepa Sinha, Baft’s vice-president of payments and financial crimes, will oversee the initiative as secretariat. Under her guidance, a governance council is being formed, currently consisting of 18 women from around the world who will drive the programme’s activities.

Sinha tells GTR that the council will gather in the coming weeks to appoint leadership positions and establish the framework for the mentorship programme as its primary focus.

The initiative was formally launched last week at a WTB breakfast meeting during Baft’s Global Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. Meeting attendees engaged in informal group discussions covering topics such as unequal pay, microaggressions and biases, and strategies for career advancement.

“We see women enter trade and cross-border payments, and as some rise through the ranks, others fall away. There’s a lot of attrition. Often, the reasons for that are because they don’t have a clear career path, they may face obstacles, and they may not have a mentor or someone who can give them the guidance that they need. They may not find assistance within their organisations or have the required skill set,” said Sinha, speaking on the sidelines of the event. “I want WTB to fill that gap.”

WTB is open to women at all levels of their careers, from all of Baft’s member organisations.

“This initiative is intended to be driven by our members, mirroring the structure of our other councils and committees,” said Sinha. “These bodies exist for the benefit of our members and are shaped by their input.”

Commenting on the initiative, Caryn Pace Messenger, managing director, global trade and supply chain finance at Bank of America and member of the WTB council, tells GTR: “Baft continues to impress with the launch of the WTB, which will strengthen our community by providing women with opportunities to expand their industry connections and amplify our collective voice through the global Baft network. This is really exciting.”