The number of females in the board and management positions in the banking industry is still lower than the threshold set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), seven years after the directive.
At the moment, only seven women are Managing Directors among the about 24 banks while only 21 per cent of women have attained a board or management level across banks as against their male counterparts.
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The then CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, at a women empowerment conference in Lagos on December 12, 2013, said: “The CBN has taken action to break the glass ceiling that continues to block female talents from reaching the top by issuing a circular that by 2014, 40% of banks’ top management and 30% of board directors should be women.”
Sanusi had said the incentives for banks that comply is that they would be better positioned to get funds from Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) to promote gender equality.
As of 2013, the European Commission had proposed a 40% quota for the European Union (EU) while the United Kingdom recommended a 25% target by 2015.
However, in Nigeria, only 21.3% of women have attained that in Nigeria, the analysis indicated. This was a one per cent drop from the 22.3% figure recorded in 2018 when Daily Trust did a similar analysis.
The breakdown of the industry data shows that only five banks have met the 30% threshold for women inboard positions. While GT Bank is leading at 57%, Access Bank trails at 44%; Unity Bank and FCMB have 33% threshold each while Stanbic is at 30.8% threshold for women in board positions.
The five average performers of this threshold consist of UBA (29.4%), Citibank (28.6%), Wema and Union Bank at 25% each and Fidelity at 23%.
The five worst performers are Polaris Bank (0%), Jaiz (6.6%), First Bank (8.3%) and Taj (9%).
At the management level, statistics indicate that seven out of the 24 banks have women as MDs, translating to 31.8%. This is an improvement from 2018 when only two banks – Standard Chartered Bank and Unity Bank, of the 20 banks, had women as MDs, which was a 10% women to 90% men ratio.
The new figure of seven female MDs came after FCMB appointed Yemisi Edun as its MD last week, and a day after, GT Bank appointed Miriam Olusanya as MD. They were also the first women to have attained those positions in the history of the two banks.
The five other female MDs are Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe of Fidelity Bank, appointed in January 2021; Kafilat Araoye was appointed in June 2021 as MD of Lotus Bank, a new non-interest bank. The rest are Oluwatomi Somefun of Unity Bank; Halima Buba of SunTrust Bank, and Ireti Samuel-Ogbu of Citibank Nigeria.
There has also been a decline in the number of women Executive Directors (EDs) as they occupy only 12 out of the 51 women. This represents 23.5% of all the women or merely 5% of the total number of the board members. The other 76.5% of women are either non-executive directors or independent directors.
This was a drop from the 21 women EDs out of the total of 46 women directors in 2018.
Commenting on how banks struggle with the CBN gender equality threshold, the immediate past chairman of GT Bank and a Chairman of Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN), Mrs Osaretin Demuren, urged the banks to strive to attain the threshold provided the women are competent and they have the skills.
Demuren who served 33 years at CBN including management positions, said: “I have nothing against them, but you don’t put a woman there just because she is a woman. She has to be competent and one we want to be proud of.
“There are competent and skilled women all over. We need to take time to identify them and bring them on,” she noted.
Demuren advised banks to search in universities and other schools where there seem to be more girls than boys. “If we get out there, we will find them.”
Also commuting, Fidelity Bank boss, Onyeali-Ikpe, said: “I am excited at the possibilities of great change our appointments hold. We will redefine the financial landscape and through the force of example, encourage other younger ladies to see that the impossible is the untried.”