Ex-minister Harps on Gender Inclusion

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Omobola Johnson

Nume Ekeghe

A former Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, has listed some factors that can help women to reach the top of their careers in any field of endeavour.

The former minister who spoke on the theme of ‘Winning through Inclusion’ at the third edition of the Sterling Leadership Series (SLS) in Lagos recently, said women can get to the top through mentorship, role modelling, assertiveness, confidence building and networking, among others.

While urging women to quickly adopt the tactics she outlined for better representation, Johnson said men are not likely to concede leadership positions to women in a friendly manner because of a lot of discriminatory practices exist in the corporate world so women would have to fight, kick and, if necessary, bite to get to the top.

According to her, available statistics show that the number of women in leadership positions in the political and corporate world was dwindling. She noted that while she was in government, women had about 30 percent representation but the percentage has dropped to about 10 percent now while there are still fewer women at the board level in companies.

Johnson, who is the Co-founder of Women in Business (WIMBIZ), commended Sterling Bank for its high level of gender inclusion.

She said available statistics showed that when women were involved in leadership positions there is improved performance because there is better representation in decision-making.

She also advocated for policies that would support maternal and childbirth responsibilities among women because, besides women having responsibilities outside the workplace, it is important to have a workplace that represents the larger society.

In his opening remarks, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, explained that the leadership series has the objective of inspiring the bank to do things that are memorable and in order to do so, it is necessary to sit with people who have done memorable things.

Suleiman, said the maiden leadership series was headlined by Professor Wole Soyinka while the Managing Director of Unilever Nigeria Plc, Mr. Yaw Nsarkoh, was the guest speaker at the second edition.

Johnson, who also doubles as the Chairman of Custodian Investment Plc enjoined the federal government not to regulate technology companies such as the fintechs like other companies in order not to kill them because they can scale very fast.

She urged the government to listen and engage with citizens because technology is helping citizens to keep governments on their toes across the world, citing instances like the recent protest in Cameroon and the need to learn from what happened in Ukraine, Italy and the US where the electorates voted against the established order.

She observed that no developing country could talk about development without mobile phones, remarking that before the advent of mobile phones, banking services contributed about 46 percent while the introduction of mobile phones has enhanced financial inclusion to about 70 per cent.