The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stack Exchange, Oscar Onyema has expressed commitment of the Exchange to narrowing both the global and local gender gap. He expressed this commitment by highlighting the concerted policies existing in the Exchange to actualize the objective.
Onyema seized the opportunity provided by the 2020 edition of The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) International Women’s Day symposium, themed “Each for Equal” which held on Friday, 6 March.
‘The celebration of International Women’s Day has evolved over the years to become not only a day to validate the invaluable contributions of women in our society, but to explore the world of opportunities available to women and to empower them to reach their highest potential in all spheres of influence. This is a cause that the NSE is truly proud to support’.
NSE boss preceded the above affirmation by picturing a truly equal and balanced world; a world where men and women make equal contributions to the society, enjoy equal opportunities, and even enjoy the same rewards and benefits; as expressed in this year theme, “Each for Equal”.
He further stated that ” going by the growing body of evidence out there, it is safe to conclude that the multiplier effect on families, businesses, communities, economies and ultimately, nations would be indeed phenomenal. For instance, the IMF estimates that if Nigeria was to reduce gender inequality, the economy could grow on average by as much as 1.25% points more. In addition, recent IMF studies estimate that closing the gender gap could boost GDP by 4% in both Canada and Japan, and by as much as 30% and 32% in Pakistan and Niger respectively.
Onyema’s address contained that: Despite the identified benefits increased women participation is poised to deliver, our society continue to face an uphill task in achieving true gender parity. Data from UN Women shows that women are still less likely to participate in the labour market than men with a labour force participation rate of 48.5% for women and 75% for men. In addition, women are paid only 77% of what their counterpart males earn in the global workplace. Looking at leadership opportunities, it is appalling to note that only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs today are women, highlighting the difficulties women face in attaining leadership positions”.
As a member of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSEI), the Nigerian Stock Exchange’s commitment is not just expressed in words but in far reaching series of activities which are geared towards the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 5 which seeks to empower all women and girls by 2030. These are highlighted below as contained in the CEO’s address:
- The endorsement and continued commitment to the Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs): a set of 7 principles that offer guidance to businesses on how to empower women in the workplace across key areas of leadership, training, enabling policies, and education and training
- Continuous tracking of women’s participation in our National Council, Executive Management Committee, and Senior Management and continued encouragement of women to occupy these positions
- Equal, fair and non-discriminatory pay and career opportunities for all employees, irrespective of gender
- Provision of four months of maternity leave – one month above the industry average – and flexible working hours upon re-integration to work for an additional period of three months. Availability of paternity leave to our men to support their spouse during the most critical period after the birth of a new baby.
- Provision of free crèche services to reduce the burden of finding child care alternatives while at work for nursing parents for up to 18months
- Frequent trainings for all staff, irrespective of gender
- Today, where we host women from all walks of life to our annual International Women’s Day symposium to raise awareness on gender issues and proffer solutions that will spur the Nigeria business community to action
Looking ahead, the NSE continues to explore ways to advocate for gender parity issues. Plans are currently under way to launch the Nigeria2Equal Initiative, a 3-year project in which the IFC and NSE will collaborate to reduce employment and entrepreneurship gaps in Nigeria. The program will support the private sector to increase women’s participation as leaders, employees, customers and entrepreneurs through favorable workforce policies and practices, products and services that target the women’s market segment and deliberate measures that promote women’s participation in corporate procurement.
He brought the address to a close by stating in part by saying “…we are mindful of the rate of progress and will continue to advocate for a collaborative approach to accelerating change both within the Exchange and among our members, issuers and other capital market stakeholders.
…. in line with the theme for this year’s celebration, allow me to amplify the global International Women’s Day message: “An equal world is an enabled world. Individually, we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can, therefore, actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world. Let’s all be Each for Equal.”