Corporate governance is more than just putting together a team of men and women to run the affairs of an organization. It is also about bringing together sound minds with varied experiences and skills, and placing in their care the success or otherwise of a firm.
For Nigerian financial institutions, particularly the banks, there is much curiosity about the composition of their board of directors. Note that this curiosity is not just about the competence of the individuals that comprise these boards of directors, but also about the gender representation therein. Recent happenings in the corporate space have shown that no gender has a monopoly on competence.
In this article, we have examined the board composition of top banks listed and trading on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, to understand and illustrate the gender representation in their corporate governance structures.
Access Bank Plc
Access Bank’s board of directors is led by a woman, Dr. Ajoritsedere Awosika, who replaced Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga in January 2020.
According to information obtained from Access Bank’s Q1 unaudited report, the 14-member board of directors has 2 female Executive Directors namely – Ms. Hadiza Ambursa and Mrs. Chizoma Okoli. There are also 3 female Non-Executive Directors — Mrs. Anthonia Olufeyikemi Ogunmefun, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Osime, and Dr. Ajoritsedere Awosika the current board Chairman.
Based on the foregoing, we can see that there is 35.71% female representation on the Access Bank board, as against 64.29% male representation. Although this is not balanced, by all means, the 35.71% female representation is well over the 12% average that seems to be the norm in Nigeria. It is important to also note that Access Bank lost 3 directors with two retiring and one resigning respectively. 2 out of the three were men and resigned March 30th and 31st respectively. This adjusted the gender balance significantly in favour of women. The bank is yet to announce if it will be replacing the board members with women or men.
United Bank for Africa Plc
The United Bank for Africa Plc has 19 members on its board of directors, with Tony Elumelu as Board Chairman. Out of this number, there 4 female Non-Executive Directors namely— Foluke Abdul-Rasaq, Owanari Duke, Erelu Angela Adebayo, and Angela Aneke. This indicates a 21.05% representation.
In addition to this, one has to give this bank credit because a lot of competent females are also seen holding key management positions across the group as you can see below:
The Regional CEOs for West Africa 1 and 2 are women – Abiola Bawuah and Amie Ndiaye Sow. Also, UBA’s operations in New York, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Liberia, and Cote d’Ivoire are headed by female bosses – Adesola Yomi-Ajayi, Noellie Tiendrebeogo, Chioma Mang, Nkechi Arizor and Sarata Kone.
Zenith Bank Plc
Zenith Bank Plc’s board of directors is comprised of 13 members, with only one woman in the mix. This 7.69% female representation appears to be unfair, although one can take solace in the fact that there are females occupying other top management positions in the company.
Note that Dr. Adaora Umeoji is the Deputy Managing Director of Zenith Bank and the only female on the company’s board of directors. Zenith Bank has a total of 51.8% male and 48.2% female out of a total of 5,982.
Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc
This company’s board of directors is made up of 10 members and led by Basil Omiyi who serves as the Non-Executive Chairman. There are 4 female Non-Executive Directors who are – Ifeoma Esiri, Ngozi Edozien, Nkemdilim Cay Uwaje, and Salamatu Suleiman. This shows 40% female representation and 60% male.
In a similar assessment done in 2016, Stanbic-IBTC Holdings Plc had the highest percentage of women on its board at 42.85% (3 out of 7 members), compared to other banks. Stanbic IBTC has about 2,936 employees with 57.4% male compared to 42.6% female.
FCMB Group Plc
FCMB Group is governed by a board led by the Non-Executive Chairman Oladipupo Jadesimi. Out of the 10 members on this board, there is only one female and her name is Mrs. Olapeju Sofowora. She is a Non-Executive Director.
Note that there is no female Executive Director on the board, and the Chief Executive Officer is male. The current structure on the board shows 10% female representation and 90% male. In terms of employees, out of the total 3,893 strong workforce there are 60% male and 40% female out
FBN Holdings Plc (First Bank)
The 10-member board is led by Dr. Oba Otudeko as Chairman. The female members of the board include Otunba (Mrs ) Debola Osibogun, Cecilia Akintomide OON, and Oluwande Muoyo as Non-Executive Directors and Independent Non-Executive Directors. Note that this is no coincidence as it appears to be in line with FBN’s culture of giving 30% representation to the fairer gender.
It should also be noted that across FBN Holdings’s subsidiaries, women are known to hold key positions. The Chairman of the company’s main subsidiary (i.e., First Bank of Nigeria Ltd) is a vibrant and well-known female boss by the name Ibukun Awosika.
Note, this is the board representation for FBNH, the holding company that includes First Bank Plc.
Union Bank of Nigeria Plc
There are three females and ten males on Union Bank’s board of directors. The women are Mrs. Beatrice Hamza Bassey (the Acting Board Chairman), Mrs. Furera Isma Jumare, and Mrs. Obafunke Alade Adeyefa. This represents just 23.08% female representation on the Union Bank board of directors.
In terms of employees, the bank has 38.8% female workforce as against 61.2% male.
Guaranty Trust Bank Plc
Guaranty Trust Bank Plc is another Nigerian bank that has a woman chairing the board of directors. The 14-member board is headed by Mrs. Osaretin Demuren, with Ms. Imoni Akpofure and Mrs. Victoria Adefala as Non-Executive Directors. Meanwhile, Mrs. Miriam Olusanya serves as an Executive Director on the board. This makes it a total of 4 females compared to 10 males, with the females representing 28.57%.
The bank has a total of 3,509 employees out of which 54.3% are male and 45.7% are female.
Gender distribution across major Nigerian banks
There appears to be an improvement in female appointments in boards of top banks in the country, as they join their male counterparts in the corporate governance world. While the agitation for better representation continues, it is important to bear in mind that the issue is not merely about increasing the numbers but getting the perfect fit for the positions.