By Chukwudi Nweje

As the world marks the International Women’s Day (IWD), the Lagos Business School (LBS) has advocated gender parity in the financial services and other sectors of Nigeria.

It also disclosed that it had secured a $300,000 grant from a global philanthropic organisation that advocates gender parity in the financial services sector, as well as begun a project tagged, ‘Co Impact’ which aims at fostering gender equality in Nigeria’s financial services sector.

Co-lead of the project, Yetunde Anibaba, who disclosed this during the IWD celebration at LBS, said the Design Phase Grant is aimed to provide the space, resources and expertise necessary for a partnership that would create a plan designed to help the LBS achieve its systems change objectives.

She said the LBS was embarking on the project as its research showed that women occupy only 20 percent of the executive management positions in the financial services sector, despite making up 45 percent of the total workforce.

Anibaba further lamented that the systemic inequality had continued to persist due to deeply rooted social norms and implicit biases, as well as the structures and processes that preclude inclusiveness in organisations.  “In a recent study on 30 most capitalised companies in Nigeria, it was discovered that about 33 percent of the workforce is women, and only 27 percent holds senior management positions in these organisations. “According to the data we recently collected, in about 10 leading banks and a few insurance companies, about 45 percent of the workforce is women, and 55 percent is men.

“But, as we move towards the senior management, you see that it becomes thinner, and we have just 29 percent in senior management, and 20 percent in executive management. So, we begin to ask ourselves, what is going on here? Especially because lack of women in decision-making positions could cost an economy as much as 15 percent of its GDP.”

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Earlier in his opening remarks, the Dean of the Lagos Business School, Prof. Chris Ogbechie, called for concerted efforts towards advancing the cause of inclusion.

He added that inclusion must be promoted not only through words but through actions by actively advocating practices that promote gender equality, and by amplifying the voices of women in leadership roles.

He said: “The theme, ‘Inspire Inclusion’ underscores the power and potential of diversity in driving innovation, creativity, and growth within our institution and beyond.

“It reminds us of our shared responsibility to actively promote and advocate for gender equality, not just within the confines of  our organisation but also in every aspect of our lives.”

The event also featured a panel session, which had discussants such as the Vice Chancellor, Pan-Atlantic University, Professor Enase Okonedo; Doctoral Researcher & Programme Designer LBS Sustainability Centre, Osanua Nwagbara, and the Chief Operating Officer of Sycamore, Onyinye Okonji.

Others were advisory services specialist, women’s world banking, Olajumoke Daramola; lawyer, compliance & regulatory expert, Lucia Azinge and member, Lagos Business School faculty, Emeka Azinge.

They discussed gender inequality in the corporate world, its root causes, manifestations and ways through which it could be addressed.