At least one in five board members of Nigeria’s top companies are female, well above the world average of 17% for female representation on boards, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Three of the top 20 most-capitalized firms in Nigeria have a woman as chair of the board, The Professional Women Roundtable, a Lagos-based gender diversity consulting firm, the report quoted a survey published on Friday.
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Nigerian banks have the most women on their boards, or at least a quarter of board positions. The central bank recommends that lenders allocate at least 30% of board seats to women.
With one in four board positions taken by women, Africa generally has the highest proportion of women on boards, beating second-placed Europe at 23% and global laggard Latin America at 7%, the McKinsey Global Institute said in a report last year. While Nigeria may rank slightly below other African nations such as Botswana and Kenya, Friday’s survey shows that Nigeria still does well at 21%.
Companies that include women in their executive teams are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability, McKinsey said earlier this year.
Nigeria’s gains in business stand in stark contrast to the position of women in politics. Africa’s most populous country has the lowest proportion of female lawmakers on the continent, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an advocacy group that tallies representation.
Women hold only 4% of seats in the lower house of Parliament, placing it number 184 out of 193 countries for which the Geneva-based group has data. Rwanda ranks highest globally, with 61%.
Nigeria has never had a female president or vice president, and not a single governor of its 36 states has ever been a woman.