Absence of women on boards harming businesses - Esua-Mensah
Companies will continue to miss out on talents and performance if they do not employ deserving women to sit on their boards and bring to bear required skills to enhance growth, Pearl Esua-Mensah, Managing Consultant, Feniks Ltd has said.
“If we do not get women into the board rooms and very senior positions in institutions, then we are actually doing ourselves a disservice. The companies are losing out on a lot of talents and performance and the country is losing out on where it could be because they do not have women in a lot of places.”
“This is not about women being pushed forward so that we have only women in places, it is about gender diversity, it is about complementing the assets per personality; the characteristics of women with men. Men are good at certain things, women are very good at other things, men and women together can work magic,” the Former Deputy Managing Director of UT Bank emphasised.
Mrs. Esua-Mensah was speaking during a panel discussion at the launch of the “Women on Boards” research initiative held in Accra.
The research, an initiative of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in collaboration with the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) and the Swiss Cooperation (SECO), aims to strengthen corporate governance practices in Ghana.
Mrs. Esua-Mensah also added that even though it was critical for women to climb to the top, women must also note that they have the responsibility to add value to themselves and make themselves available to show that they are ready and fit for such positions.
Key findings from a research by the African Development Bank (AfDB) last year showed that majority of African companies have minimal women representation on boards.
Titled: ‘Where are the Women: Inclusive Boardrooms in Africa’s top listed companies?’, the report revealed that women hold 12.7 percent of board directorships (364 out of 2,865) in 307 listed companies based in 12 African countries. This is 4.6 percent lower than the 17.3 percent women’s representation on the boards of the 200 largest companies globally.
The findings also showed that majority of African companies have at least one woman board director. However, about one-third (32.9%) have 0 women on board, and another one-third only have one female director (33.6%).
Speaking at the launch, Chinyere Almona, Regional Programme Manager, IFC Corporate Governance indicated that launching the initiative sets the space for positive action towards creating the culture of encouraging, enabling and accelerating diversity on boards in the corporate environment.
“IFC is dedicated to building a strong business case for corporate governance in every market where we operate. We have seen the importance of good corporate governance practices for the long-term success of companies.”
“As an investor, we look for good corporate governance practices in our partners which will serve as a guarantee of reliability, fairness, transparency and accountability, and hopefully, by the time the outcome of this research is made public, Ghana’s ranking on the global gender gap report might improve significantly,” she envisaged.
Mrs. Almona was also of the view that having women on boards guarantees a company’s success, hence the need to champion the cause, saying: “In European countries mainly, and for researches I have seen, countries with more women on their boards have been found to outperform their rivals with up to 42 percent higher return on sales, 66 percent higher return on investors’ capital and 53 percent higher return on equity, and these figures are not small figures.”
She pledged her team’s commitment to building capacity of women to improve diversity on boards and consequently improve performance of companies.