Access Bank promotes women into leadership positions



The Nigerian group has adopted a proactive strategy to promote the advancement of women within its ranks as well as creating targeted financial products for them.

How can African women break the glass ceiling that limits them in the world of work?

In Nigeria, Access Bank has been developing a proactive strategy to empower women within the company for several years.

The bank, chaired by Nigeria’s Mosun Belo-Olusoga, made N95 billion (€227m) after-tax in 2018 with a total balance sheet of €11.8bn.

Reuters said, the bank has 350 branches in seven sub-Saharan countries and recently won the Africa CEO Forum’s Gender Leader Award in Kigali.

On a continental scale, the representation of women in management positions is a good marker of the remaining obstacles.

Compared to the rest of the world, the African private sector is in line with the global trend: women are largely under-represented in the hierarchy.

According to Women Matter, a McKinsey report published in 2016, “[in Africa] women hold 14 per cent of the seats in management, compared to 13 per cent worldwide.

The higher the number, the worse the figures: five per cent of the Executive Directors are women (world average, four per cent).” However, the firm that measured the performance of 210 companies pointed out, “Profits are generally 20 per cent higher in groups where women are widely represented.”

The study did not explain this correlation. But for Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, Director of Sustainable Development at Access Bank, there is one reason. “Women bring a good balance. In reality, they are more risk sensitive, able to concentrate better… In management, they get better results,” she said.

Victor-Laniyan joined the group almost 11 years ago and has built up her expertise in these issues by starting in journalism.

For three years, she wrote a column the daily Punch newspaper.

She then joined the British group Cadbury, where she was head of Corporate Social Responsibility, which included gender equality.

In 2009, she was recruited by Access Bank to set up the sustainable development department. “We have established principles of sustainability, nine in all, and the fifth is dedicated to the empowerment of women,” she said. “Today, they were adopted by the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

The latter requires, in particular, that 30 per cent of the members of the management bodies be women.

According to a study by Nigeria’s Wimbiz (Women in Management, Business and Public Service), cited by the AfDB, the goal is still far from being achieved at the national level.

In 2014 — the deadline set by the Nigerian Central Bank — the association concluded that in financial sector companies, including banks, women held 16 per cent of seats in management.

But within Access Bank, women employees hold one third of these seats.

The establishment has put in place various measures to improve the situation. With the Access Women Network, women in the group, regardless of their position, are encouraged to network, with workshops and mentoring to help women at the beginning of their careers.

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