Iêda Cagni: “Diversity leads to innovation, improved customer service and sustainability”

Iêda Cagni is President of the Board of Directors of Banco do Brasil, Brazil's longest-standing bank and the second largest financial institution in Latin America. In this interview, Ms. Cagni discusses the rise of diversity and inclusion within the Brazilian banking sector, the growing importance of ESG in the country's financial markets and what we can expect from Banco do Brasil over the next 12 months, among other topics.

Publicado Friday, December 3rd 2021
Iêda Cagni: “Diversity leads to innovation, improved customer service and sustainability”

Leaders League: You are the first female president of the Board of Directors of Banco do Brasil, which already has two women as members. What is the significance of this increase in female participation at the very top? And what are the diversity and inclusion initiatives at BB?

Iêda Cagni: It shows that Banco do Brasil is committed to this subject, as stated in our internal policies and external commitments. Since 2007 we have participated in the Pro-Gender and Race Equity Program and obtained its certification seal in every edition. In "Agenda 30", we are committed to increasing the participation of women and black and pardo people in leadership positions.

We have bolstered our initiatives, especially regarding training our staff to develop and evolve in their careers, through higher education, certifications, and language programs, and other internal initiatives. 

We know we can - and must - do more. An example of this is our Women's Leadership Program, currently in its second edition. Through it, we seek to identify barriers (the famous "glass ceilings") that hinder the ascent of women, to map out organizational readiness for change, promote discussions about gender equity, and encourage more women to apply for promotion opportunities within the company.


From 2014 to 2020, the number of women on corporate boards doubled from 7% to 14%. What is necessary to achieve greater gender equity?

Currently, the number of women members on the Banco do Brasil Board of Directors is 37.5%, the highest percentage ever recorded. The progress of gender equity in companies drives us towards a more equal and fairer society. But, above all, it is a strategic need of any organization. Diversity leads to innovation, improved customer service, seeing as customers are also diverse, and, consequently, to sustainability.

Society must also change, unfortunately, we still live in a very sexist culture. Women must empower themselves, seek to break through glass ceilings and create alliances with other women in order to grow together and support each other. It is also crucial to always seek more qualifications, to accept new challenges, and, above all, to believe that ‘it’ will happen and that they are ready, freeing themselves from the imposter syndrome and all the anxieties imposed on women throughout their professional lives.

At Banco do Brasil, we are proud to be a reference regarding these advances, with the presence of women in our Board of Directors and vice-presidencies, directorships, and other positions of leaderships. Therefore, the way forward is not to lose sight of the fact that we still have improvements to make and that they will only happen if we join forces to promote the necessary changes which encourage a culture of equity within companies.

The number of women on the Banco do Brasil Board of Directors is 37.5%, the highest percentage ever recorded

Currently, there is a global trend with investors preferring companies aligned with ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) values. What is Banco do Brasil's board of directors position on this issue?

The Board is very mindful of this agenda, closely following the bank’s sustainability performance and our ongoing initiatives. We are constantly speaking with our managers and know that sustainability is an integral part of the company's strategy, incorporated into the business, process, and risk management. It is reflected in the "Agenda 30 BB", a plan with actions, indicators, and goals related to the main challenges in sustainability.

In 2021 Banco do Brasil was recognized as the most sustainable bank in the world by Corporate Knights' Global 100 ranking. The bank is also part of international and national sustainability indexes, like the DJSI of the New York Stock Exchange, the FTSE4 of the London Stock Exchange, and the ISE of B3. Additionally, BB also recently received the "AA" rating from Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) ESG Rating.

But we understand that to move forward, we can and must seek new opportunities to be profitable for our stakeholders and to contribute even more to the preservation of the environment. It is the Board's role to lead this transformation. And to reinforce the presence of these ESG issues within the company's daily dynamics, integrated into the management of the business and processes to carry out increasingly sustainable business.


Banco do Brasil recorded an adjusted net profit of R$5 billion in this year's second quarter, an amount 52.5% higher compared to the same period in 2020 and 2.6% higher than the first quarter of this year. What key factors were responsible for this increase in profit?

Even facing such a challenging scenario, especially with regards to the pandemic, our business dynamics in 2021 have been positive, reflecting a scenario of economic recovery.

The loan portfolio growth was a decisive element in the performance of this first semester and positively impacted BB's gross financial margin. Combined with service specialization initiatives and the use of data and analytics in favor of the client, considering their profile, personal and digital experience, this strengthened the decision of business origination and contributed to the performance of service revenues. Furthermore, the Bank maintained its cost control and focus on efficiency, allowing for a decline in administrative expenses. Another relevant effect was the reduction in provision expenses due to a very granular management approach to the quality of the portfolio.

Throughout 2020, Banco do Brasil, like other large banks, carried out a movement of prudential anticipation of allowances for doubtful accounts, aiming to strengthen the balance sheet to cope with the effects of the pandemic on the economy. This movement directly impacted the profit.

Banco do Brasil offers full support to the clients, from suspending installment debts to granting specific credit lines with unique conditions, being close, and reinforcing its assistance to the various segments of the economy. The goal is to prioritize the customer in all its actions. Banco do Brasil is becoming increasingly more flexible with the digital world, by being present wherever and whenever the customer needs it. We invest heavily in technology to deliver the best solutions and remain competitive in a competitive environment.

In 2021, Banco do Brasil was recognized as the most sustainable bank in the world by Corporate Knights' Global 100 ranking

Banco do Brasil has implemented three Voluntary Retirement Programs over the past six years and closed 391 branches in the first half of this year. Now, vacancies have been opened via public exams. What can we expect over the coming months?

This movement seeks to implement an appropriate management which focuses on valuing people. While we have employees already eligible to retire and seeking different challenges, we must also renew our staff. Thus, the opening of vacancies via public exams is to replace the staff departures which naturally occur. Hiring for these positions should take place by the beginning of 2022.

Regarding the changes in the infrastructure of our service network, these reflect changes in customer behavior. With an increased customer preference for online banking, it is only natural that our service model mirrors this behavior.

In the continuous search for excellence in service and efficiency, we migrated to lighter structures and expanded our presence to 95% of the Brazilian municipalities. We also partner with banking correspondents, who deliver related services to the population and contribute to regional development.

The last few years have seen a change in customer behavior and how they interact with financial institutions, a trend accelerated by the pandemic. The demand for convenient transactions via digital solutions and specialized advice, in person or remotely, set the main guidelines for adjusting the distribution of Banco do Brasil’s service and channels, which will remain consolidated for the next six months.


By: Danilo Motta