Measures the Company has taken to sustain its desired culture
A positive corporate culture helps to attract and retain employees. When employees thrive, the Company thrives. The Group’s leadership team has been working alongside the co-founders since the inception of ASA International. They promote desired practices through their day-to-day actions, which are an example for the rest of the team. The following measures are taken to sustain the Company’s desired culture:
Training of employees and new recruits is primarily on-the-job. In 2021, 6,626 employees in the operating subsidiaries underwent the Pre-Service Orientation (‘PSO’) training, which takes approximately 12 days. During PSO, they learn the Company’s heritage, mission, core values, code of conduct, HR policies and financial processes, amongst others. This training is followed by continuous on-the-job training from colleagues, and regular in-branch mentoring and coaching from more experienced senior staff members, such as regional and district managers. Training remains an important element, also when employees progress into more senior roles. Training can include anti-money laundering, diversity and inclusivity, quality improvement, skill development, crisis management and role-specific training. In 2021, 12,924 training attendees were recorded.
Promotion in the operating subsidiaries is offered to those who have successfully incorporated the core principles of the ASA Model and have demonstrated leadership skills in the field. There is a preference to promote those that have joined the Company as their first job and have successfully climbed through the ranks. The Company believes there is true strength in promoting their own staff which allows the next generation to obtain a better position within the Company. This not only supports the successful growth of the Company but also offers a material incentive to employees, which ultimately strengthens the capacity of the Company to expand. With a staff retention rate of 80%, the turnover is low and many employees remain and grow within the Company. In 2021, 1,339 promotions were recorded across the Group. In 2021, most common was the promotion from loan officer to (assistant) branch manager, occurring over 700 times across the Group.
All staff are encouraged to offer suggestions and ideas, provide or solicit feedback, seek personal or professional counsel, or address concerns within the Company, the latter without fear of reprisal. In order to raise any work-related concerns or complaints, the Company established the Grievance Mitigation Committee (‘GMC’).
All staff are encouraged to report any activity that may constitute a violation of laws, regulations or Company policy to the senior management at the country head offices and the branch managers. Examples of staff concerns are improper or unethical business practices, health, safety and environmental issues or violations of their code of conduct. Staff are free to communicate their concerns to the Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee locally, as well as at Group level.
The Company aspires to be an inclusive and (gender) diverse organisation. As a global company, active in 15 countries, the Company celebrates its culturally diverse workforce. In terms of gender, in 2021, the operating subsidiaries had an overall 34% female representation, broken down in East Africa: 11%, West Africa: 9%, East Asia: 9% and South Asia: 5%. Due to cultural reasons in South Asia and safety issues related to travelling alone, hiring women still appears to be a challenge in this region, which impacts the Group’s overall gender representation. The female representation at the senior leadership level is 20%. In terms of age, 54% of the Company’s employees are under 30 years old and 0.6% over 50.
Considering the branches of the Group’s microfinance institutions are very much part of the communities in which it is located, and as part of its commitment to social welfare, the Group’s microfinance institutions execute social impact activities in the communities. The origination of these programmes lies with the field staff at the community branch level, and the programmes themselves are highly regarded by staff, clients and the wider community. The final selection of these programmes is made at the head offices of the microfinance institutions in the respective countries.