This study investigates whether board gender diversity matters in banks’ initial responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in supporting their customers, communities and governments. We construct a unique and comprehensive COVID-19 Bank Response Measure (C19BRM) by compiling a novel hand-collected dataset on supportive measures announced by US and European banks during the first wave of the pandemic. We find that banks with higher board representation of women directors supported their customers and communities more. Our findings also reveal that more women on the boards increased their charity and donations. Our results are robust to the potential self-selection bias of women choosing to join boards of more responsible banks, the omitted variables bias, and alternative measures of gender diversity.