Dena Bank has opened its first branch having only women staff, in Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh. Bank sources said opening of this branch is a part of its program to empower women, and this will be the first all-women branch in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
Shyam Lal (name changed) who stands outside the bank branch with his double-barrelled gun is the only male staff in this branch. In this tiny branch of five people in Raipur’s Sunder Nagar all are women right from the peon to the branch manager.
At present the branch has less than 100 account holders and soon the number is expected to increase as more and more women will be interested in opening a bank account in this branch. Manju Agrawal, who has opened an account in this branch said, “A woman customer can express her views more liberally and seek information more easily from women staffers.”
According to her women employees can understand the sentiments of women customers more accurately, which will help in addressing their grievances effectively.
However there are male customers also but women think they can make this unique branch their own.
Since its opening, the branch has become the centre of attention; many people are visiting curiously to see how women can run an operation all by themselves. Due to this reason Shyam Lal, who refused to reveal his real name, makes sure to provide maximum security to the staff. He always frisks men from entering the branch and menacingly bars the way if anyone approaches the branch manager’s office.
Although Dena Bank has handed over the complete operational command in the hands of women in the branch, but women staff does not have permission to speak to the media. “Sorry, I do not have permission to speak and give information about the branch,” says manager Manju Dheewar.
Even senior executives are avoiding talking about it. “Yes, it is an innovative step, but the details will be given only by my superiors in the corporate office,” says Rohit Yadav, the bank’s regional manager.
Such silence is odd as sources in the bank’s corporate office in Mumbai say the idea of an all-women branch was given by the local officials and was given practical shape from the fact that the region had large number of women employees.
A senior executive pointed out at present the concept of an all-women branch has been started on an experimental basis, and if it succeeds, the management might introduce it in other branches too.
The women staff in the new Raipur branch is happy about the fact that the management is thinking on such lines. There are also plans of hiring a “gun-woman” instead of a “gun-man” to guard the branch