Tekedia Intelligence mined data obtained from the Nigeria Security and Exchange Commission, Corporate Annual reports and interviews and noted that Nigerian women rarely make it to the top position in their fields or industries. We observed that less than 7% of the members of corporate boards in the public companies in Nigeria are women. This follows closely to the number of women that are running top companies in the nation. We also looked at data obtained from the Nigerian University Commission and noticed that most of the public universities are managed by men as Vice Chancellors.
This comes at a time when the world is witnessing women stars. The boss of Xerox, Ursula Burns, is not just a woman but a black lady. Pepsi has Indira Nooyi. Yahoo! is lead by Carol Bartz while Facebook for all of the technical wizardry of Mark Zuckerberg, the engine of that company is Sheryl Sandberg. The soup company, Campell will soon have a woman running it. We must acknowledge the services of Meg Whitney of eBay and of course Carly Fiorina of HP (!).
Of course the global number of women in key positions remains small. In the US Fortune 500, only 15 companies are managed by women. The German DAX has zero woman as boss. The France CAC 40 is also zero. The British FTSE-100 has five female bosses.
Despite the natural capacities of women to understand markets and their directions, companies continue to leave them out of the top job. Women shop more and they are naturally positioned to help create products which they by. Yet, men continue to run this show, disproportionately. Yes, men are more aggressive and risk takers even at work to try new ideas and take big projects even when the failure outcomes could be dangerous.
Nigeria is unfortunately low with women leaders in the public schools. Tekedia Intelligence research could not understand this lopsided preference of women despite stellar performance by Nigerian women in the past and present times. We also recall how the Aba women saved Aba in 1930 and how people like Ngozi Okongo-Iweala and Dora Akunyili have performed.
Though we do not advocate the solution of mandatory requirement of women in the Nigerian boards as Norway did in 2003 which required at least 40% women in public company boards. Today,only about 32% are women despite the mandate of implementing that in 2008. Norway has more women percentage in boards than any nation. Recent data shows that most of the companies promoted unqualified women to meet quotas and ended up hurting their performance. Unless the woman is qualified, do not promote. Yet, there must be a way out.
Though it is really difficult to ascertain why that disparity exists. Except in technical programs, as many women and men go to schools and obtain degrees. That they take time to raise kids and are not naturally aggressive to seek for promotions do not hide the fact that Nigerian women need help in the corporate boards. We need to do better.
Data sources: Businessweek, OECD, Mckinsey, SEC (Nigeria), First Global Select