Quotas will help more Nigerian women win
Scenario 1: Shortly after I got married, one of my wealthy male friends; who is happily married with 5 children told me that I would have never gotten married if I had agreed to date him because he would have given me a nice house & car. We had done business together in the past so he knew full well that I could afford these things myself.
Scenario 2: A banker friend of mine hosted an investment event in 2015 that brought together small/medium sized Nigerian businesses and investors from all over Asia. The event was covered in all the major newspapers, I wondered why all the businesses owners that he chose to participate in the event were all men.
A few months later my banker friend called me and told me that he was sponsoring a beauty contest and he would like me to come a ‘inspire’ the contestants before their show. I asked him why he didn’t invite me for the investment conference, but decided that this beauty pageant (I have no experience or inclination towards the entertainment industry btw!) was he ‘perfect’ opportunity for me.
Both of these guys are my friends, I know that they like me as a person, but despite the fact I run a very successful business, somewhere in their subconscious minds, I am still just a ‘girl’. And their minds ‘girls’ motivate beauty contest participants, they don’t do multi-million dollar deals with Chinese investors.
With friends like this, who needs enemies? 😉
Let us digress briefly to take a little to look at the Nigerian economy today.
The size of the economy is roughly $400bn in terms on GDP, which gives Nigeria a GDP per capita of about $1500. Compare to Luxembourg with it’s GDP per capita of $103,000, the USA with per capita GDP of $60,000, UK at about $40,000, South Korea at $27,000; you can see that even if Nigeria distributed its entire GDP equally to each citizen, they would still be poor.
To lift Nigeria’s citizens out of poverty there is an urgent imperative to grow our economy, quickly.
To even approach the type of GDP per capita level that has the potential to give each Nigerian the chance of a decent standard to living, we must increase the amount of trade (goods and services exchanged between companies/households) in Nigeria over several fold.
Why women’s leadership matters
Changing the way we trade by making our companies more effective and competitive should be one of the cornerstones of Nigeria’s push towards rapid economic growth
According to Mckinsey and Company, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have greater than average financial returns. Furthermore, organisations with three or more women in senior management positions score higher in all dimensions of organizational effectiveness.
Research shows that women complement and enhance the range of leadership behaviors critical to performance. Companies with more women on their boards are more profitable. The UN succinctly states that when women work/lead, economies grow.
In political leadership, the benefit is also clear. Research published in the New York Times shows that women are better at making deals in the senate than men.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has noted, “Women typically invest a higher proportion of their earnings in their families and communities than men”
However, when it comes to career progression women are continually shortchanged by bias.
Take this study from the Harvard Business Review below which highlights the barriers women face when seeking funding for their entrepreneurial ventures.
The Lean In organisation points out that at the first critical step up to manager, women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than their male peers. In many Nigerian banks, female marketers are highly visible as marketers doing the hard work of bringing in deposits, selling financial services and supporting growth, however become less visible in senior management positions, especially on boards.