IFC partners SEC, others to improve gender diversity on boards of companies

10 Mar 2017, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria


IFC's Country Manager for Nigeria said firms with a diverse directorate are better contributors to economies.

Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) in partnership with the Institute of Directors’ Centre for Corporate Governance; Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WimBiz) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) held a roundtable on the International Women’s Day (IWD) 2017 to promote greater involvement of women on boards of Nigerian companies.

The IWD – which holds on March 8 every year – is a day for celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. According to a statement released by the IFC on Thursday, the theme of the roundtable was: “Promoting Gender Inclusive Boards, Organisations and Societies.” Discussions at the forum focused on progress, challenges and solutions to improve gender diversity on boards of companies in Nigeria.

“Research indicates that firms with a diverse directorate are better contributors to economies,” said Eme Essien Lore, IFC Country Manager for Nigeria. “Therefore, IFC, in partnership with the SEC, is promoting gender diversity on boards. This is helping strengthen Nigerian companies’ ethical reputation, increasing transparency and investor confidence and improving their financial performance.”

According to a 2014 study by WimBiz, a Nigeria based non-profit organisation, there is only 19 per cent participation of women on the boards of Nigerian banks. However, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has a directive that 30 per cent of all board compositions in Nigerian banks must be women.
Globally, IFC said it has nearly reached a 30 per cent target of female representation on IFC-nominated directors in companies it has invested in and it continues to aim for full parity in the near future.  

Corporate governance refers to the structures and processes by which companies are directed and controlled. Good corporate governance makes companies more accountable and transparent to investors, which encourages new investments, boosts economic growth and provides employment opportunities.

“SEC is focused on developing transparent and efficient companies that will attract and retain investments, strengthen the capital market and contribute to economic development,” said Anastasia Braimoh, Deputy-Director and Head of Legal Department at SEC. “With the support of IFC and other stakeholders, we are leading the promotion of a more balanced board with greater gender diversity to boost efficiency and overall productivity.”

Participants at the forum included government officials, regulators, businesses, industry leaders and other experts.

IFC’s Africa Corporate Governance programme is funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Swiss government's centre of excellence for all core issues relating to economic and labour market policy. The IFC is the implementing partner for the programme.


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