Gender distribution gap in the financial sector

Glass ceiling. That has been the cliché used to express women’s absence at the top of any career, unlike their male counterparts. RAHEEMAH AROGUNDADE looks at the difference between the two distinct genders in the financial sector

Gender inequality is an issue in most societies of the world. The difference in the number of women calling the shots in organisations as against men is wide, likewise their earnings.

Issue of equal reward
Whether the women do equal amount of job with the men and still earn less is still disputable. For example in sports, women have been protesting against getting less pay than the male. But while the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt of Jamaica, ran 100 metres in 9.58 seconds (2009), the fastest woman ever, Florence Griffith-Joyner of the United States, did same distance in 10.49 seconds (1988).

That is the reason Equal Pay Day, which date differs year by year, has been selected globally to highlight the pay gap between the male and female. The National Committee on Pay Equity fixed this year’s edition on March 31.

Women in labour force
According to the International Monetary Fund, women make up almost half of the world’s working age population of nearly five billion people. Despite, only 50 per cent of them participate in labour force.

African gap
Gender gap in African countries is pitiable, with the World Economic Forum’s 2018 projection that it would take approximately 135 years to close the gap between men and women in sub-Saharan Africa, if gender inequality persisted. The gap belittles the significant contributions made by women to the economy.

While various empowerment avenues have opened for the female gender to promote equal rights, changes are still in motion to ensure sustained improvement in bridging the disparity and improving on the unfavourable conditions women are subjected to.

In Nigeria, women constitute almost half the work force; yet they, most times, don’t get good jobs, promotion, among others. This has been attributed to various reasons, including the assumption that women do not need money as men do, considering that most men are breadwinners.

The National Bureau of Statistics in Nigeria reports that 65.3 per cent of senior positions were occupied by men, between 2010 and 2015. The pay gap is more obvious in sectors ranging from banking, Information and Communication Technology, engineering, project management to medicine. However, Nigeria has made steady but slow improvement over the last couple of years.

The financial sector
Contrary to the widespread assumption that females dominate the banking profession, their preponderance is at the lower cadre, as the men continue to dominate top positions in the industry. In 2019, reports revealed that women who had board appointments in Nigerian banks were 22.3 per cent. Not much improvement has been made to improve this figure.

According to reports from Nairametrics, no financial institution has 50:50 representation of men and women in its directors’ board, even as there has been overall improvement in female representation. With a female, Dr. Ajoritsedere Awosika, heading Access Bank’s board of directors, the 14-member board has two executive directors and three non-executive female directors, leaving female representation at 35.71 per cent. The United Bank for Africa’s board of 19 directors with Tony Elumelu as chairman indicate 21.05 per cent female representation.

Deputy Managing Director, Adaora Umeoji, is the only female in Zenith Bank’s board of 13 directors. Stanbic IBTC has four females among its 10-member board, while Mrs. Olapeju Sofowora, a non-executive director, is the only female among FCMB’s 10-member board.

First Bank has three females among 10 board members, with Ibukun Awosika as chairman. Among the 13 board members of Union Bank are three females. Mrs. Osaretin Demuren is the chairman of Guaranty Trust Bank’s 14-member board.

At the grassroots
Gender inequality is not only an issue for the corporate world; but also at the grassroots. Some months back, a report conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria and Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access discovered gaps between men and women in education, income, and trust by financial service providers, attributing it to lack of financial access and inclusion. According to the report, women in Nigeria tend to have lower income, education
and less trusted by financial service providers, and this contributes strongly to the financial
inclusion gap.

Way forward
At that event, CBN’s Deputy Governor for Financial System Stability, Aishah Ahmad Ndanusa, said, “The path to inclusive economic growth is paved with women’s economic empowerment. The gender gap is rising. It is a worrying trend that underscores the importance of this research. We need to work with target segments and speak to their unique challenges. It requires not incremental thinking; but bold, visionary ideas that will drive

Corroborating the 43-year-old female accountant and financial guru, EFInA’s head of programmes, Ashley Immanuel, said, “To address the financial inclusion gender gap, stakeholders need to work together to address this gender inequality, earn women’s trust in financial services, and explore ways to build a better business case for reaching excluded”

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