As part of activities to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) themed “Break the Bias,” Sterling Bank partnered with the Society for Corporate Governance, a non-governmental organization (NGO), to sensitize women professionals and other executives on how they can become active and effective board members as part of activities to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD).
Speaking at the one-day event with the theme: “Boardroom Readiness: Enlightening and Equipping Women,” Mrs. Ifunaya Ugboko, Head of One Woman, said, “We supported the program because there is a need for women to be conscious of their potential, equip themselves for boardroom positions and change the mindset perspective that boardroom positions are meant for men alone.
“We also want women to be intentional about their capabilities and aspire to greatness. Helping women into leadership positions, especially at the boardroom level, where they can contribute to the growth of their organizations and live a fulfilling life”.
While urging women to be inspirational, Ugboko disclosed that women can have access to credit solutions such as asset financing loans, distributorship loans, discounted business loans, nanny solutions to support work-life balance, trusteeship solutions, and get the One Woman card, which enables them to shop at discounted prices in selected stores under the One Woman proposition.
She drew attention to the need for women to embrace trusteeship solutions as part of Breaking the Bias.
Also speaking, but virtually, the keynote speaker, Dr. (Mrs.) Ajoritsedere Awosika, Chairman of Access Bank Plc, dwelt on the need for gender diversity on boards of companies and commended the Society for Corporate Governance for being at the forefront of enforcing corporate governance and increasing the number of women in boardrooms in Nigeria.
Dr Awosika observed that bias against women in top leadership positions is a global issue as statistics show that only 6.7 per cent of positions on boards of directors are occupied by women globally. She, therefore, urged women to improve their skills by taking advantage of the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic to register for online courses in that regard.
She listed some examples of women who had broken the glass ceiling in the boardroom, including Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga, the first female Chairman of Access Bank in 2020; Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, former Chairman of First Bank Nigeria Limited; Chioma Mordi; Elohor Aiboni, MD, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company; Mariam Olusanya, MD/CEO of Guaranty Holding Trust Company; Mrs. Bola Adesola, former Managing Director and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank; and Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, current Managing Director and CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc.
Egbert Imomoh, Chairman of Investment One Financial Services Limited, also advised prospective women in the boardroom to be very strong, competitive, work hard at the beginning of their careers, be highly ethical and have the strength of character to express their views on board meetings.
Imomoh, a former MD of Shell Nigeria, advised corporate organizations to expose women to leadership positions and identify viable ones that can bring value to their companies, adding that women should ensure that their voices are heard.
There was also a panel discussion moderated by Ese Nkadi, Head, Governance, Stanbic IBTC Holdings. Discussants include Nkedilim Uwaje-Begho, CEO of Future Software; Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, Co-founder, Falcon Corporation Limited; Bimbo Wright, Executive Director, Wright & Co. Limited; Mrs. Bola Tinubu, Board Chair, the Boardroom Africa; and Zelda Akindele, Partner with Templars.
The panel conversation was centred around women being confident, having a voice, being competent, growing their social network, keeping themselves abreast of local and global trends, and a lot more.
The discussants, nonetheless, agreed that appointments to boardroom positions for women should be based, on merit, accountability, and impact, among others.