Prof. Enase Okonedo, the Vice-Chancellor of Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, on Thursday said that inclusiveness would boost productivity in workplaces and the society in general.
Okonedo made the assertion at the second edition of the Society for Corporate Governance Nigeria (SCGN) International Women’s Day Roundtable, in Lagos.
The roundtable had the theme: “The Board-Ready Female: Modelling Ethical Leadership and Driving Transformation.”
According to the Vice-chancellor, when an organisation inclusive opportunities, it increases productivity and brings out the best from workers.
“Inclusion boost company’s reputation, consumers trust and a mixed gender board have fewer incidences of fraud.
“Women in the board could prevent risky-over-investment policy, be fast to apply caution and moderate the over confidence of male chief executive officers,” she said.
She added that board-ready females would think out of the box, lead by example and have the duty of care and loyalty.
She said that such females should be able to communicate openly, seek information, ask questions, display values, stand on moral grounds and be fair.
The Chairman, GlaxoSmithkline Consumer Nig. Plc., Mr Edmund Onuzo, said that female representation in Nigeria’s private and public sectors was still low.
He said that there were many women as qualified as men for jobs.
According to him, women are generally disadvantaged because the society was male-dominated.
“We live in a male-dominated society where women are expected to be submissive, sadly and strangely, even in workplaces.
“Gender diversity is not easy to achieve because it is a male-dominated world; so, any female aspiring to be a board member should be board-ready, must be of good behaviour and must be transformational,” he said.
He urged women to embrace digital literacy and networking for greater efficiency.
The Chief Executive Officer of Acccestra Ltd., Mr Isaac Orolugbagbe, said that cultural perspectives were affecting female board membership.
According to Orolugbagbe, 50 per cent of the population are women and cannot be kept away if the country should record the desired impact.
The Company Secretary, First Bank of Nigeria, Ms Irene Netimah, said that tech women had not been given enough opportunities.
She said that there were many competent women ready to make impacts.
“Decision makers have to deliberate on some certain issues so that women are not dropped off at the peak of their careers,” she said.
A Partner at IA&GRCS, KPMG, Ms Bimpe Afolabi, said that many women had the expertise for board membership and should be encouraged.
She noted that socio-cultural factors made women to be expected to focus more at home rather than advancing in their careers.
The Managing Director of JNC International Ltd., Ms Clare Omatseye, said that there should be the right policies in place to encourage women to excel and encourage girls to be ambitious to take up board roles.
“NGOs should encourage proper corporate governance in the society,” she said.
The Chief Executive Officer of SCGN, Mrs Chioma Mordi, in her address of welcome, sai, “We are here to celebrate the International Women’s Day with the theme focused around board readiness.
“We try to create a discussion that borders on diversity, which is the key aspect of corporate governance; board discussion is also a very important discussion around corporate governance.
“While we speak about gender equality and equity and promoting women’s rights and participation in key offices, it is not solely about the interests of women.
“The kind of changes that women have fought for and made in this country and beyond, have been improvements not only for women, but for our community as a whole.
“When we talk about the progress of women, we are talking about the progress of the country as a whole.
“Women are still not paid equally for work of equal value, and this gap is compounded by the fact that most workplaces operate with a view that people who are paid more, matter more.”
Mordi said that the existence of the pay gap further marginalised women and was an added burden.
“Not only are women paid less but they are perceived to be less valuable,” she said.
According to her, without a significant mass of women in parliaments or boardrooms, women’s voices will remain absent and far from the major decisions.
“Let us rejuvenate our efforts for a better world – realising equal rights for women and men across boards, organisations and areas of life,” she urged.
SCGN is a non-profit organisation committed to the development of corporate governance best practices for Nigeria.