Expert POV: Steven Puig, CEO Of Banco BHD León And Martha Peralta, VP Senior Talent Management At Banco BHD León


In 2021 Banco BHD León achieved EDGE Assess certification, the first EDGE certification level, demonstrating its commitment towards gender equity in the workplace. It became the first organization in the Dominican Republic, and indeed the first private company in the Caribbean, to undergo the rigorous third-party assessment required to obtain EDGE Certification.

Headquartered in Santo Domingo, Banco BHD León has more than 4,000 employees and serves over one million customers. Its certification was acquired with the advice of IDB Invest, in the context of a strategic alliance between the two entities to support small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owned and led by Dominican women. But its commitment and ambition for gender equity spreads further than this. Banco BHD León takes seriously its position to support not only its employees by creating a more gender-balanced workplace, but also the development of Dominican women and contributing to a better country with improved gender equity.

Banco BHD León EDGE Move Certified
Banco BHD León EDGE Move Certified

Steven Puig is CEO of Banco BHD León and Martha Peralta is Vice President Senior Talent Management at Banco BHD León, and both are proud of the work they are doing both inside and outside of their organization to create positive change.

How did the business case for gender balance DE&I evolved over the last 18 months?

Martha Peralta: Since 2015, with the creation of our BHD León Women’s Gender Strategy, our entity has focused on developing important internal changes so that gender balance, diversity, equity and inclusion are part of our culture, and our work environment. For example, we were the first financial entity in the Dominican Republic to increase paternity leave, and we have also created various programs to train leaders in terms of inclusion. In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we strengthened initiatives to promote the psychological health of our staff and strengthened our inclusion project for employees with special needs, among other initiatives. In 2021 we continued to focus on strengthening these proposals, making banking increasingly more responsible, more innovative and closer to our employees.

Where does gender balance, diversity and inclusion fit within your broader sustainability agenda?

Steven Puig: The sustainability strategy we execute at Banco BHD León is based on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and focuses on carrying out social, environmental and economic initiatives. Gender balance, diversity and inclusion are at the top of our sustainability agenda. For example, since 2015 we have implemented a gender strategy that is exclusively dedicated to guaranteeing the creation and execution of initiatives that work in favor of gender balance, promoting gender equity, equal labor practices and developing different programs that support the role of women in the social, economic and environmental sectors. We are currently working on another strategy that has already made significant progress, which includes training and capacity-building in different areas regarding the management of diversity and inclusion. Gender balance, diversity and inclusion are part of our business management.

What are your personal commitments to advance gender balance, diversity and inclusion inside and outside your organization?

Steven Puig: More than a commitment, it is a responsibility that both the Banco BHD León team and I have assumed as an organization and as individuals to contribute to the positive transformation of society, making a sustainable world that provides opportunities for all people. We carry this corporate responsibility at all levels of the entity, and it is part of the DNA of our strategy.

EDGE Certification brings visibility and credibility to the change happening inside the organization. Tell us some stories about how your employees benefit from the EDGE Certification journey of your organization.

Martha Peralta: We are very pleased and proud to be the first Dominican financial institution to obtain an EDGE Assess certification. This makes us distinctive and gives us a point of difference.  It adds value to our image and evidences what we do for our staff. But above all, it challenges us to continue strengthening our skills to continue advancing on issues of gender diversity, while being a benchmark company for others in our country to aspire to. We intend to continue this commitment to responsibly respond to the needs of gender equity in the work environment.

What do you consider the most important business benefits of your organization being EDGE Certified?

Steven Puig: The EDGE Assess certification validates our work practices and guides us to continue with our purpose of achieving gender balance, gender diversity and gender inclusion. It challenges us to continue working to guarantee an organizational culture that is an example of equity in the broad meaning of those words. And that is the most important benefit: that we can be an example or inspiration to other companies.

What do you think workplace gender balance, diversity and inclusion means to the next generation (e.g., of leaders / customers / investors)?

Martha Peralta: At Banco BHD León we are driven by the responsibility of supporting an individual’s progress, whether it is economic or social, because we understand that in this way we contribute to the sustainable development of our country. We make decisions and execute initiatives based on the well-being of our people, our clients and society in general, demonstrating the importance of a strengthened organizational culture in terms of gender balance, diversity and inclusion. This is the legacy we want to leave to future generations: a society without limitations in which gender balance, diversity and inclusion favor the creation of more opportunities for all people.


Banco BHD León is a financial entity of economic success and human success with a comprehensive approach to business and social management of the company. In its almost 50-years of history, Banco BHD León had a track record of innovation and contributions to the development of the country’s financial system. It was the first multiple bank in the Dominican Republic with a corporate governance model recognized by international risk rating agencies, and with a history of alliances, mergers and acquisitions that have positioned it in one of the first places in the Dominican financial sector. It has a sustainability strategy that combines the social, economic and environmental vision of the company, through different focuses of action and initiatives that contribute to the 2030 agenda for the sustainable development goals. Banco BHD León Bank is part of the Financial Center Banco BHD León, considered the most diversified, widest and most integrated conglomerate of financial and related companies services in the Dominican Republic.


EDGE is the leading global assessment and business certification for gender and intersectional equity. EDGE Certification involves a rigorous third-party review of representation across the pipeline, pay equity, effectiveness of policies and practices, and inclusiveness of an organization’s culture. As an integral part of the assessment, statistical data is analysed, policies and practices are reviewed and employees’ experiences of career development opportunities in the current workplace are accounted for. Depending on the specific results of each organization, an action plan is formulated, and firm commitments towards its implementation.​

​EDGE Certification meets organizations where they are in their gender balance journey (EDGE) and in their intersectional equity journey (EDGEplus) through its three levels of certification: Assess, Move and Lead. A certification at the EDGE Assess level recognizes commitment, one at the EDGE Move level showcases progress and a certification at the EDGE Lead level celebrates success in fostering gender equitable workplaces. An EDGEplus certification further recognizing its commitment to analysing intersectional issues between gender and one or several of the following additional dimensions: gender identity, race/ethnicity, LGBTQI+, working with a disability, nationality and age.​

​EDGE Certification is built around the independent third-party certification of data and information and is distinguished by its rigour and focus on impact granted by one of the EDGE accredited independent third-party certification bodies – SGS, Intertek or FloCert, it remains valid for a period of two years. EDGE’s current customer base consists of over 200 large organizations in 50 countries across five continents, representing 30 different industries.

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