Want to boost profits? Hire more women, says research
By Oludare Mayowa
When two weeks ago, Fidelity Bank announced the appointment of its current Executive Director, Southwest directorate, Nneka Onyeali -Ikpe as its Chief executive officer designated, many may not be aware of the wisdom behind her choice to succeed the outgoing managing director, Nnamdi Okonkwo.
New research has shown that companies with no women on their executive committee are missing out on growth and profits in recent times.
According to gender diversity consultancy The Pipeline, hiring more women for top-level roles could help Britain’s biggest companies make billions of pounds in extra profits.
However, the Fidelity Bank choice of a woman to head its operations was not a novel one as many women have emerged as the chief executive officers of banks and other corporates in the past, but in recent time there has been a resurgence in the number of organizations appointing women folks into their top management and board, perhaps in line with the growing awareness of the key role the female gender are playing to increase business growth.
Last month, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp) announced the appointment of Foluke Abdulrazaq, ex Lagos finance Commissioner and United Bank of Africa’s (UBA) board member as its board Vice Chairman.
Abdulrazaq’s appointment has significant importance as she is expected to lean her support to the new management team of the company, led by Owen Omogiafo, the first female President/CEO of Transcorp, who recently unveiled her five years strategic business goals.
Tony Elumelu, chairman of the board had described her appointment as the demonstration of Transcorp commitment to the highest level of governance, human capital investment and diversity and inclusion across all layers of our business.
Before then, Access Bank Plc had last November appointed Ajoritsedere Awosika as its new board chairman, to replace another female Mosun Belo-Olusoga, who retired from it board in January this year.
The growing influence of women in Nigerian corporate firmament has it bearing on the growth and profitability of the company they either occupy the position of the chief executives, board chairmen and even members of the board and management.
Until recently, when she was lifted to the position of Senior Vice-Chairman at Standard Chartered Bank Group, Bola Adesola was the chief executive of the bank in Nigeria and she had served as the CEO of Kakawa Discount House Limited and also an executive director with the First Bank Plc.
Funke Opeke, is another strong woman who sat atop the board and management of MainOne Cable Company Limited as its founder and Chief executive officer. She has led the expansion of the company’s network capabilities and footprint across Nigeria and West Africa and believes that governance is fundamental for business resilience in an environment as dynamic as Nigeria’s.
At the Guaranty Trust Bank, Osaretin Demuren an ex-director of Trade and Exchange at the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) is the chairman of the board of one of Nigeria’s leading lenders.
Omolara Akanji, also an ex-director of Trade and Exchange at the regulatory bank is a member of the board of directors of Interswitch Africa One Plc.
Also, sitting comfortably on top of the board of the First Bank PlC is Ibukun Awosika who is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Chair Centre Group.
In its recent Nigeria CEO outlook report, KPMG has stated that: “Today, more than ever before, leading a business is about challenging convention and driving radical change.”
These and other reasons may have informed the decisions of many corporations that are gradually breaking the glass ceiling by appointing more women to head their operations or management sensitive positions in the private sector.
The infusion of the dynamism of women into the corporate world has equally, improved the visibility of many of the companies and the resilience in their operations as can be seen from the Mainone story and the rest.
As can be seen from The Pipeline research, firms listed on the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 indexes that had no women on their executive committees missed out on £47 billion last year. The calculations used a measure called net profit margin which estimates how much each pound of revenue translates into profit. Companies with no women on their highest committees had a net profit margin of 1.5 percent.
The report also stated that those companies with women in 33 to 50 percent of the top roles had an increased net profit margin of 15.2 percent. If all companies had the same higher profit margins in the 12 months to April this year, they would have made an extra £47 billion in profit.
Though such research is yet to be localised in Nigeria, from a simple survey of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), most of the top listed companies on the local bourse has a mix of male and female in their top hierarchy, confirming the important roles being played by women in Nigeria’s corporate world.
Evidence has also shown that countries with female leaders have performed better than their male counterparts in the management of the global pandemic, which has seen many economies across the world shrinking.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel has had a firm grip on the management of the coronavirus pandemic in his country when compared with the manner the President of the United States, Donald Trump has handled the pandemic.
However, experts say it is not a contest of who is superior or who have the most capability but the trend is seen as a disruption to the traditional belief which has confined the women into the kitchen in many regions of the world and limits their role in the development of their society.
Many of the women finding themselves atop the corporate and political space are working harder than their male counterparts to prove some points that they also can do better in contrast to the widespread belief that they are the weaker sex.
Some of the hindrances to breaking the glass ceiling in the past for women including focusing on the sexuality of the female folks rather than their capability, leading to sexual harassment from their male counterparts. Also, many of the women in Nigeria politics have not reflected the quality represented by their counterparts in the corporate world, except for the sterling performance of people like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s nominee to the top job at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) who was finance minister during Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan administrations.
Also, women like Arunma Oteh, the ex-Director General at Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the last administrations of President Jonathan also proved her mettle with far-reaching of reforms she introduced in the nation’s capital market during her tenure.