In many parts of the world, including Nigeria, women often face the barriers of discrimination and persistent gender inequalities which deny them access to key positions in the corporate world as well as access to finance or the formal economy.
Women make up almost half of the world’s working-age population of nearly 5 billion people. But only about 50% of those women participate in the labour force, compared with 80% of men, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The IMF’s research highlights how the uneven playing field between women and men imposes large costs on the global economy. Early IMF studies on the economic impact of gender gaps assumed that men and women were likely to be born with the same potential, but that disparities in access to education, health care, and finance and technology; legal rights; and social and cultural factors prevented women from realizing that potential.
Nearly 70 UK companies have been told to employ more women in senior roles. Domino’s Pizza, JD Sports and Greene King are among those that have called out by financial trade sector body The Investment Association and the Hampton-Alexander review, a diversity study backed by the government.
The number of women holding the most senior jobs in the boardrooms of Britain’s biggest companies has fallen, according to a report that criticises the lack of progress made by businesses in getting more women to the top.
Analysis from Cranfield University, as part of its 20th FTSE Women on Boards Report, shows a sharp drop in the number of women occupying chief executive (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO) or other executive roles on FTSE 250 boards, and static numbers at FTSE 100 companies.
Women constitute almost half of the Nigerian’s population and its workforce. Yet the kind of work they do, the condition under which they work, and their access to opportunities for advancement at workplace differ from that of men. Women are often disadvantaged in access to employment opportunities and in conditions of work as compared to men. In addition, many women forgo or curtail employment because of family responsibilities. The removal of obstacles and inequalities faced by women is advantageous to an economy’s development. For example, the Beijing Declaration affirms a national commitment to the inalienable rights of women and girls and their empowerment and equal participation in all spheres of life including the economic domain.
Also, Goal 8, target 8.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men (including for young people and persons with disabilities), as well as equal pay for work of equal value by 2030.
According to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) the percentage of men employed in the State Civil Service from 2014 to 2015 was higher than the percentage of women for both senior and junior positions.
The average percentage of women employed in the State Civil Service from 2010 to 2015 in each category (junior and senior) was 38.16 per cent, while it was 68.84 per cent for men.
Also, men dominated employment in federal MDAs while women on grade level 01 –17 plus Special grade level was 34.67, 35.08 and 32.79 per cent for 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.
In the financial services sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in 2014 directed that 40 per cent of banks’ top management and 30 per cent of board directors should be women.
Reports revealed that that women constitute only 22.3 per cent of the total board appointments in Nigerian banks, while their counterparts make up 77.7 per cent since 2014.
However, FBNHoldings, Nigeria’s leading financial holding company and parent company to FirstBank is no doubt exemplary at representing the change, thus demonstratively redefined the Women in Business trajectory with women occupying various leadership positions, positioning the financial group powerhouse as a leading institution at driving Gender Balance in the Boardroom.
Leading the pack of women in the board across the group structure which comprises FirstBank and its subsidiaries, FBNQuest is Ibukun Awosika whom has been Chairman of FirstBank since 2016. Prior to being the Chairman, she was a Non-Executive Director. since 2016. The representation further cuts across the group entity of its parent company, FBNHoldings. Other companies across the group, FBNQuest and FBNInsurance are also not left out.
Otunba Debola Osibogun, Non-Executive Director, FBNHoldings; Cecilia Akintomide (OON), Independent Non-Executive Director, FBNHoldings; Oluwande Muoyo, Independent Non-Executive Director, FBNHoldings; Dr. Omobola Johnson, Non-Executive Director, FBNQuest Merchant Bank; Oyinkansade Adewale, Non-Executive/Independent Director, FBNQuest Merchant Bank.
Others are Kehinde Adenrele, Chairman, FBNInsurance, Folake Ani-Mumuney, Chairman, FBNInsurance Brokers; Ijeoma Agboti, Non-Executive Director, FBNQuest Capital; Funke Feyisitan Ladimeji, Non-Executive Director, FBNQuest Asset Management; Titi Adebiyi, Independent Director, FBN General Insurance and Margaret Dawes, Non-Executive Director, FBNInsurance.
With such an admirably notable representation, it is no surprise that only recently, Women Corporate Directors (WCD) – Nigerian Chapter – had FirstBank host its meeting, held on Thursday, 3 October 2019 with 60 female directors and leaders of various organisations across various industries in attendance. These women discussed pertinent corporate issues with a view to promote the continued influence of women in Business and the economy, also ensuring that the needed balance on the home front is bolstered. The keynote speaker is Osagie Okunbor, managing director SPDC & Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria.”
FBNHoldings recognition of female impact in its business operations at management level no doubt sets the tone for other institutions across other industries to promote women inclusiveness in management, thereby instrumentally shaping gender balance in the business atmosphere, thus influencing ethical practices in a cultured way worthy of consistently reiterating the recognition of female at impacting the economy and National Income as a whole. This in no small measure transcends to the political space, the cornerstone of legislative impact in the economy and business activities as a whole.
Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN, said recently that the Apex bank had made remarkable progress in closing the gender gap in the Bank.
“It is heartening that today, women represent 29.0% of CBN staff and 29.0% of directors are women. Eight departmental directors and one Director General of WAMZ as against 26.0 per cent of staff and 25.0 percent of directors in 2014. Similarly, three out of 11 board members are women (27%)”, Emefiele said at the 2019 CBN Commemoration of the International Women’s Day (IWD) in March 2019.
Develop Homegrown Solutions, Human Capacity and Invest in Agriculture to Rebuild Africa; Experts say at UBA Africa Day Conversations
•Prioritise SMEs Development
•Advocate Partnerships between Private Sector and Government
African thought leaders and great minds have noted that the development of homegrown solutions and adequate investment in human capacity building and agricultural expansion are key steps that will help to rebuild Africa and put the continent on a stronger footing post Covid-19.
Analysing the theme ‘Domestic Policies, Regional Development and a Global Agenda: SDGs and African Development at Crossroads; the speakers collectively gave this submission during the second panel session of the 2020 edition of United Bank for Africa (UBA) African Day Conversations.
The virtual session, which was moderated by Veteran Journalist and Media Consultant, Eugenia Abu, was made up of thought leaders from across Africa, including the Regional CEO, UBA West Africa, Abiola Bawuah (Ghana); Senior Program Coordinator, Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes, Dr Nalishebo Meebelo (Zambia); Leadership Coach and Chairman, Go Ahead Africa Ltd, Roland Kwemain (Cameroon); Founder and Executive Director, Social Change Factory, Sobel Aziz Ngom (Senegal); Special Assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Digital and New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi (Nigeria); and Social Entrepreneur and Founder, LEAP Africa, Ndidi Nwuneli (Nigeria).
Abiola Bauwah who emphasised how Africa should rely less on foreign donors, said, “There are five areas we should work on more for us to reach the SDG goals; the private sector; rapid industrialization; institutions and the rule of law; develop our human capital; remove the barriers across Africa. We should institute Africapitalism which is an economic philosophy that says that the human and capital resources of Africa are the only ways in which we can develop Africa.”
Nalishebo Meebelo noted that there’s a lot that young people can do along the value chain of manufacturing, transporting, technology and marketing, adding that, “Government cannot do it alone, they need to work with other stakeholders. Cut and paste solutions do not work for us here in Africa, we need to have our own homegrown solutions to fight this pandemic.”
Eugenia Abu, who focused on the huge role that women and youth must play in rebuilding the continent, said that Africa had to work together to provide solutions to its numerous challenges. “Women, entrepreneurial champions, young people and collaborations between African countries are very key to developing Africa,” she stated.
Ndidi Nwuneli who was saddened that the agricultural sector remained hugely untapped, emphasised the need for a change of mindset where people usually equated agriculture to poverty. “This is a $1 trillion industry and we are neglecting it; therefore my charge to you is that we invest in the agricultural sector, prioritize it, leverage it, transform our educational system to prepare our young people for this sector, change the mindset and trade with each other,” she explained.
Sobel Aziz Ngom pointed out the need for the youth to take charge in Africa. “It is time to not just serve young people, but to trust them to lead. The challenge that we have at the domestic and continental level is making the change in our structure and in the political system that give the place to young people to be 100% engaged,” Ngom stated.
In his own submission, Tolu Ogunlesi, said, “All over the countries young people are seizing opportunities, and we need to start thinking about how to make sure that this is not just for the age of COVID but for now and beyond COVID-19. Even if the pandemic was to disappear today, I hope that the lessons we’re learning, we’re not going to forget them and go back to where we used to be.”
For Roland Kwemain, more institutions need to tow the line of UBA in events such as UBA Africa Conversations. “If 100 multinationals in Africa were doing that UBA is doing, we would go far because CSR is an amazing leverage not just for the brand but also for supporting people & women in terms of activities. The truth is that we need partnership between the government, corporates and the civil society,” he said.
The United Bank for Africa is a leading pan-African financial institution offering banking services to more than twenty million customers globally. With footprint in 20 African countries and presence globally in the United Kingdom, the USA and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross border payments and remittances, trade finance and ancillary banking services.
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CBN’s financial inclusion drive achievable with tech– Expert
Critical technology intervention such as CICOD Lyte would help businesses to thrive and scale above the hurdles of inefficiency, leakages and poor service delivery.
To help Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria achieve financial inclusivity and accelerated growth among Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), business processes will require integrated technology for optimum results.
This was revealed by the United Kingdom trained IT expert, Wumi Oghoetuoma, CEO, Crown Interactive. According to him, critical technology intervention such as CICOD Lyte would help businesses to thrive and scale above the hurdles of inefficiency, leakages and poor service delivery.
Ogboetuoma revealed this while unveiling Crown Interactive’s new offering, CICOD Lyte which will help grow and engender profitability among Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Shedding more light, the IT expert explains, “All organizations have business processes that enable them to deliver their products and services to their end-users. For many organizations in Nigeria, these processes are tracked manually, leading to inefficient operations, leakages and ultimately poor service delivery. Today, large organizations such as Eko Electricity Distribution Company and others currently use the CICOD Lyte solution provided by Crown Interactive to manage their key business processes and track their revenue flow.”
Explaining more, he disclosed, “CICOD Lyte provides customers with the ability to set up their online businesses immediately, manage orders, take payments and manage deliveries without the need for any technical skills. CICOD Lyte is currently offering a 30 days free trial period. Crown Interactive is offering fully integrated but modular systems that can be integrated into existing organizations’ software applications where required or operate independently to provide an unparalleled platform for automating key business processes.
Set up in 2005, Crown Interactive is a software company based in Lagos, Nigeria with a focus on delivering solutions that enable Customer Management, Workflow Management and Revenue Assurance. Wumi Oghoetuoma is a graduate of Computer Science from Kingston University, UK. His career spans over 20 years across various continents providing technology and business analysis services for global organizations such as Oracle Corporation, AOL, Virgin Media, Altech UEC and Thompson Reuters