A new report on board gender diversity trends in Nigeria’s corporate organisations has revealed that less than a quarter of board positions in companies quoted on the Nigerian Exchange Limited’s (NGX) top 20 quoted companies are occupied by women.

The report stated that 56 seats (23.4 per cent) out of 239 board seats available in the top 20 companies were held by women, while 183 seats (76.6 per cent) were held by men during the period under review.

This represented a marginal increase of 2.5 per cent, compared with the 20.9 per cent recorded the previous year.

The report titled, “The 2021 PWR NGX Top 20 Gender Diversity Scorecard,” however, showed that the number of female board chairpersons decreased from three in 2020, to two in 2021, adding that none of the top 20 companies were led by a female CEO during the period under review.

The report was derived from a study by the PWR Advisory, a leadership, diversity and inclusion advisory and advocacy firm.

It also showed that female representation in Nigeria’s corporate board was slightly better than Ghana’s 23 per cent, but lower than South Africa’s 29 per cent.

The PWR Advisory stated that the top 20 companies were selected based on the size of their market capitalisation on the NGX.

It stated that, “in 2021, 23.4 per cent of board directorships of the NGX’s top 20 companies by market capitalisation are held by women. This is slightly up from 20.9 per cent in 2020.

“The 25 per cent of the top 20 companies have at least 30 per cent female representation on their boards. Last year 30 per cent of the top 20 companies met these criteria.

“Ten per cent of the companies have female board chairs against 15 per cent in 2020. These companies are all banks as was the case in 2020. Same as last year, none of the 20 companies on the list has a female CEO. Two companies on the list do not have any female representation on their boards. There was only one company in this category in 2020.”

The five highest ranked performers were Lafarge Cement, Stanbic IBTC Holdings, Nigerian Breweries, Access Bank and Guaranty Trust Holdings Company.

Lafarge, IBTC and Nigerian Breweries earned four stars each, which signified 40 per cent or more of female representation, while Access Bank and Guaranty Trust got three stars each, indicating 30 per cent or more female board representation.

Sectoral breakdown of the figures further revealed that the financial sector is the most gender-friendly in terms of female representation in their boards with 29.67 per cent while the consumer goods sector was the least gender sensitive in their board compositions with 17.46 per cent.

The oil and gas scored 21.43 per cent while ICT and the industrial goods sectors earned 20 per cent each.

The report added: “Twenty per cent of the banks in the NGX Top 20 have at least 30 per cent female board representation. (This does not include Holding companies with banking subsidiaries).

“The Central Bank of Nigeria stipulates 30 per cent female representation on the boards of Nigerian commercial banks. In the financial services sector, 28.6 per cent of the boards in this list are chaired by women. Across the other sectors represented (consumer goods, industrial goods, ICT & oil/gas), none of the boards are chaired by women.”

The Founder of the PWR Advisory, Ms. Ivana Osagie, who presented the gender diversity scorecard, said the 2021 report was meant to build on the momentum that was galvanised by the inaugural edition last year in corporate Nigeria, which raised awareness of the business case for gender diversity in boardrooms.

Osagie noted that, “since then there has been a slight increase in the number of appointments of women to boards, particularly as non-executive directors and as managing directors. This is not necessarily in listed companies.

“I have no doubt that Nigerian businesses will greatly benefit from having a greater diversity of perspectives in boardrooms and on executive leadership teams. While some progress has been recorded, it is minimal and far from satisfactory. Much more needs to be done to accelerate the rate of change and unlock untapped value.

“Businesses and communities in Nigeria and across the African continent will reap significant economic return by fully unleashing the potential of half the population. Corporate boards as custodians of economic prosperity have a key role to play in achieving this,” noting that “there is safety in diversity” because “it’s a win-win for all.”

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