By Peter Egwuatu
The Nigerian Exchange Limited, NGX, has said that it remains resolute in its commitment to supporting global aspirations to achieve gender equality in line with the targets of Sustainable Development Goals SDGs.
To this extent, the Exchange hosted a Digital Closing Gong Ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of female Chairpersons of NGX listed companies and their affiliates who were appointed in 2021. The event was hosted in line with the Exchange ongoing collaboration with International Finance Corporation (IFC) which aimed to reduce the gender gaps in leadership, employment, and entrepreneurship under the Nigeria to Equal programme.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Temi Popoola, Chief Executive Officer, NGX, said, “We remain resolute in our commitment to supporting global aspirations to achieve gender equality in line with the targets of Sustainable Development Goal by leveraging our platforms to support issuers and market participants to achieve their gender goals and aspirations.”
One of such initiatives is the Nigeria to Equal programme, implemented in partnership with IFC to promote gender equality amongst listed companies.
“The appointment of these iconic women as Board Chairs not only affirms their leadership abilities, but also speaks of their dedicated service and commitment to their respective industries and their long-standing track records of delivering outstanding value. Their achievements embody the aspirations of the Nigeria to Equal programme and are worth celebrating”.
Kalim M. Shah, Senior Country Manager for Nigeria, International Finance Corporation (IFC) said in his remarks, “IFC’s commitment to advancing gender equality is anchored in a strong business case that ensures equal opportunities for both men and women to reach their full potential, and help economies achieve sustainable growth and prosperity.
By addressing persistent gender gaps and increasing women’s participation as leaders, companies can achieve improved business performance. Through the IFC-led Nigeriato Equal gender program, the goal is to invest in increasing women’s participation in corporate leadership, employment and entrepreneurship. For leadership, today marks a significant milestone in the advancement of women as leaders and board chairs.”
In her remarks, Erelu Angela Adebayo, Chairperson, NGX Real Estate Limited appreciated the Board of Directors of Nigerian Exchange Limited for the laudable initiative. She acknowledged the transition of NGX Group of Companies from a company with less than 30% female representation on the National Council of The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to a Group of four companies with two female Chairs.
“She also commended NGX for its continuous efforts in collaborating with renowned organisations such as the IFC and leveraging its platform to make gender issues front and centre in the economic agenda.
“On her part, Mrs. Catherine Echeozo, Chairman of NGX Regulation Limited, acknowledged and congratulated the board chairperson appointees being celebrated, highlighting the benefits of diversity. She stated, “diversity is about tapping on the full breadth and depth of talent available and equipping companies with diverse talents and viewpoints so that they can better navigate and address challenges in an increasingly complex and competitive global environment”.
Speaking on the prevailing barriers facing women in leadership positions, Dr. Omobola Johnson, Chair, Guinness Nigeria Plc, said, “it is quite ironic that we are celebrating the advancements we have made in corporate governance a day after the National Assembly voted very strongly against a bill that was seeking to address the imbalance in female representation in all facets of our national life. Building a greater nation requires all hands to be on deck. Women want to be partners and collaborators on this journey and we cannot be if we are excluded by law, cultural practices and norms”.
Commenting on the opportunities that corporate organisations can leverage from promoting gender equality, Mrs. Bola Adesola, Chairman, Ecobank Nigeria, stated, “As a pre-eminent Pan-African institution in over 33 African countries, our focus on gender balance supports our mission to contribute to the economic and financial development of our continent. This is so because one in four Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, in Africa is managed by a woman. Ecobank is very happy to continue to collaborate with NGX and IFC to Break the Bias. I would like to urge us all to diligently work against actions that threaten the human rights of half the population of our dear country”.
Dr. (Mrs.) Ajoritsedere Awosika, MFR, Chairman, Access Bank Plc, in her remarks, congratulated all the recent board appointees and highlighted the importance of celebrating female leaders as a critical step to inspiring younger professional women, she said, “this Closing Gong Ceremony is a laudable occasion where NGX has shown that evidently, there is a need to celebrate women in order for other women to come up.
“This celebration of women that NGX is implementing in partnership with IFC is going to go a long way to show other institutions the need to promote what is ongoing at all levels of human endeavor that women are actively getting into positions of service to make a positive difference”.