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Nigerian businesses have improved gender equality but more must be done, IFC and NGX report

ABUJA, (The Southern African Times) – Nigerian companies scored better than global averages for some aspects of women’s participation in the workforce, but will need to further step up efforts to bridge the gaps that remain between women and men in the private sector, according to an IFC study conducted in partnership with Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).

The study, Gender Equality in Nigeria’s Private Sector, assessed gender gaps at 30 leading companies listed on NGX using the Equileap Scorecard, a methodology that evaluates gaps across four categories – corporate leadership, compensation and flexible work, corporate policies to promote gender equality, and efforts on commitment, transparency, and accountability in closing gender gaps.

Overall, Nigerian companies scored an average of 32 percent across 19 gender equality metrics for the four categories, two percentage points behind the global average in Equileap’s dataset reported in 2020. While companies assessed scored better than the global average on women’s participation as leaders on boards and compared favorably with global averages on women in senior management, work needs to be done to achieve gender balance—between 40 and 60 percent of each gender—across the four categories.

To help improve gender balance in the private sector, the report recommends improving gender equality in formal employment, access to finance for women who want to start a business, and access to markets through supply chains and procurement opportunities.

“NGX has gender equality embedded at the core of its working practices and has made giant strides in galvanizing capital market stakeholders to institutionalize gender equality within their operations. The Nigeria2Equal program comes as a strategic initiative designed to support the private sector in increasing women’s participation in employment and entrepreneurship through favorable workforce policies and practices and we are resolute in our commitment to participate in the program going forward,” said Temi Popoola, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).

The report is part of the Nigeria2Equal initiative launched in 2020 by IFC in partnership with Nigerian Exchange (NGX). The program, which runs until 2023, aims to reduce gender gaps in the private sector through research and case studies, a 15-company peer learning platform, and provide firm-level advisory support to companies to implement gender action plans. The program will support the private sector in Nigeria to increase women’s participation as leaders, employees, customers, and entrepreneurs by promoting favorable workforce policies and practices, development of products and services that target the women’s market segment, and deliberate measures that empower women’s participation in corporate procurement.

“Through the Nigeria2Equal initiative, we are working with CEOs of private sector companies listed on the Exchange who are committed to implementing gender-smart solutions to improve their performance in gender across leadership, employment and entrepreneurship. By conducting market research and publishing studies, such as this report, we are providing strong evidence on the important role women play in the country’s private sector, helping companies to identify gaps and constraints, and ultimately invest in reducing those gaps,” said Kalim M. Shah, IFC’s Senior Country Manager for Nigeria.

IFC also unveiled a peer learning platform today to accelerate efforts to bridge the gaps between women and men. The participating companies, which represent diverse business sectors such as banking and finance, construction, FMCG, food manufacturing, hospitality, insurance, logistics, oil & gas, ride-hailing, and telecommunications, include MTN Nigeria, Access Bank, Sterling Bank, EcoBank, AIICO Insurance, Ardova Plc, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Lafarge Africa, Moove Africa, StanbicIBTC Bank, Airtel Nigeria, UAC of Nigeria, Cadbury Nigeria, Red Star Express, Transcorp Hotels, and Union Bank.

The 15 Nigerian companies will make at least three commitments to reduce gender gaps in their operations. For example, they may commit to boost the number of women in leadership or implement strategies to bring more women into corporate supply chains.

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