Report: Only 21% of NSE Top 20 Companies’ Board Position Held by Women

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By Obinna Chima

A report has disclosed that 21 per cent of board directorships of top 20 companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) are held by women.

The Professional Women Roundtable (PWR) disclosed this in its PWR NSE Top 20 Gender Diversity Scorecard, made available to THISDAY, at the weekend.

The report measured the level of female representation on the boards of the top 20 companies by market capitalisation on the NSE. The data used in the study were sourced from a combination of company annual reports, company websites and the NSE website as of July 2020.

A breakdown of the figures revealed that out of 230 board seats in the top 20 companies, 48 seats are held by women (20.9% of total) and 182 positions held by men (79.1% of total).

According to the report, NSE’s top 20 companies by market capitalisation have at least 30 per cent female representation on their boards. It pointed out that in the United Kingdom, 33 per cent of FTSE 100 companies have 30 per cent of their board seats occupied by women, adding that the UK government advocates a 30 per cent female board representation target for listed companies.

On the other hand, in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stipulates 30 per cent female representation on the boards of commercial banks.

Furthermore, the PWR scorecard showed that 15 per cent of the NSE top 20 have female board chairs with one in an acting capacity. And findings showed that these were all banks.

Precisely, it stated that 50 per cent of the banks in the list have at least 30 per cent of their board seats occupied by women. But the report revealed that one company in the NSE top 20 did not have any female representation on its board.

Among the NSE top 20 companies, it ranked Access Bank Plc and Stanbic IBTC as the highest performers in terms of female board representation, with 40 per cent (or more). The banks were closely followed by Stanbic IBTC Holdings, Lafarge Cement Wapco, Union Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian Breweries and FBN Holdings respectively, with 30 per cent (or more) female representations.

“In the Financial Services sector, 37.5 per cent of the boards in this list are chaired by women.

Our research also shows that across the other sectors represented (Consumer goods, Industrial goods, ICT and Oil/Gas), none of the boards are chaired by women,” it added.

According to the IMF, gender parity has a significant impact on economic development in any society.

“At a corporate level, Mckinsey found that African companies with at least 25 per cent female representation on their boards, had a 20 per cent higher than industry average earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margin.

“Other studies, including studies by the Catalyst, confirm the finding that financial performance for firms improves with more gender-balanced corporate boards. With a more gender-balanced leadership team comes better decision making and reduced ‘group think’. It introduces new perspectives and it is also a wider representation of the company’s stakeholders including customers,” it stated.

It noted that gender parity is clearly good economics, adding that is also increasingly a key consideration for foreign investors evaluating investment opportunities.

“Many Nigerian companies looking to maximize financial returns as well as meet global standards, are starting to make it a business imperative. This scoreboard will be released annually to track progress and support such forward looking businesses,” it added.

The PWR is a female leadership/career development and gender diversity consulting firm that operates across Africa. The firm develops programs for corporate organisations to help them maximise the benefits of gender diversity for increased business performance and profitability as well as help career women develop their leadership capacity and raise their visibility and representation in the marketplace. In addition, it provides data and research services to investors and other institutions focused on gender diversity.