Multiple private sector companies have been recognised in the recent Gender Leader Awards (GLA) ceremony organised by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in partnership with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) for their efforts in promoting women’s participation in leadership, employment and entrepreneurship. The Awards, which is part of the Nigeria2Equal program, spotlighted companies for taking concrete actions towards achieving gender balance in leadership, prioritizing childcare and family-friendly workplace policies, and fostering a growth environment for women within organisations and supply chains. The award recipients and participating companies in the Nigeria2Equal program, received their recognition in the presence of private sector business leaders and were commended by the Executive Governor of Lagos state, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who headlined the Gender Leader Awards that held in Lagos on Thursday, 15 June 2023.
Access Bank, MTN Nigeria, Stanbic IBTC and Sterling Bank were recognized under the Company Leadership Gender Diversity category for their significant representation of women in leadership and key decision-making roles. Cadbury Nigeria and Lafarge Africa were recognized in the Company Board Gender Diversity category for achieving a gender balanced board of directors with up to 40 to 60 percent representation of women. Access Bank, Cadbury Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Sterling Bank and UAC of Nigeria, emerged as leaders in the Family-Friendly Workplace Excellence award category for their best-in-class family-friendly workplace policies and prioritizing employee well-being. Other companies were also recognized in different award categories.
Overall, MTN Nigeria was spotlighted as the Outstanding Gender Leader for its outstanding leadership in advancing gender equality initiatives.
Delivering his keynote address, Sanwo-Olu, while commending the IFC and NGX on the Nigeria2Equal initiative, said the program is transforming the landscape for gender equality across the nation. He noted that no nation can achieve its full potential without harnessing the full opportunity the women present. He thereafter commended the companies who participated and made commitments during the program, while re-emphasizing the state’s willingness to partner with more private sector organisations to focus on promoting the interest of women and the girl child in the society and the country at large.
“Your unwavering dedication to reducing gender gaps and fostering a more equitable workplace serves as an inspiration for us all. As you celebrate your accomplishment, let us keep instilling beliefs around gender diversity. We must continue to challenge the status quo, break down barriers and ensure that men and women alike have equal opportunities to contribute to the growth and prosperity of our nation,” Sanwo-Olu added.
Speaking during the award ceremony, IFC’s Regional Director, Central Africa, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Ms. Dahlia Khalifa, commended the progress of Nigeria2Equal’s participating companies in advancing the role of women in their organizations.
Khalifa said, “As we celebrate the accomplishments of these organizations who have shown outstanding leadership in closing the gender gaps within their own organizations, we acknowledge the power of collaboration and the transformative impact that specific, measurable, and time-bound commitments can have on achieving gender parity in Nigeria’s private sector. IFC remains resolute in our commitment to sustain the momentum and support the private sector to scale up its efforts for a more gender-balanced, prosperous future.”
Commending IFC for conceptualising the Nigeria2Equal program and partnering with NGX to launch the initiative in 2020, the Chief Executive Officer, NGX, Mr. Temi Popoola, said that IFC and the Exchange through the awards, reiterate a shared commitment to encouraging private sector companies to reduce gender gaps in leadership, employment, and entrepreneurship.
He noted that through Nigeria2Equal, companies were supported to implement gender-smart policies and practices that enable the recruitment, retention and promotion of female employees, as well as gender-inclusive sourcing strategies that promote the participation of women SMEs in their corporate value chain.
“I would like to use this platform to encourage regulators, policymakers, listed companies, and other private sector players in attendance not to relent in their efforts toward closing the gender gap in Nigeria’s private sector. Not only is it essential that we continue to encourage our stakeholders through initiatives like the Gender Leader Awards, we should also note that achieving gender equality in Nigeria is an ongoing journey”, the NGX CEO said.