Governance, Women Inclusion and Credit Rating

Governance, Women Inclusion and Credit Rating

As the world celebrated the International Women’s Day in 2024, greater attention is now devoted to the role women play in enriching Corporate Governance and Credit Rating.

Corporate Governance surely plays a crucial role in determining Credit Ratings with factors like ownership structure and Board composition holding significant sway in the evaluation process.

Recognising the inherent value women bring to the Board table, companies worldwide are increasingly championing gender diversity initiatives.

It is often said that women generally have a better understanding of certain demographics. And that they bring valuable insights that lead to better product development, market strategies, and potentially increased revenue.

In Nigeria, Regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have initiated measures to promote gender diversity on Corporate Boards. The SEC’s Corporate Governance Code encourages diversity goals, while the CBN mandates a minimum of 30% female representation on Commercial Banks Boards.

The recent appointment of Adaora Umeoji as the first female Managing Director of Zenith Bank since its inception, underscores the momentum female inclusion has gained in the Banking industry. Adaora joins a growing list of current female Bank CEOs in Nigeria, including: Yemisi Edun (FCMB); Nneka Onyeali-lkpe (Fidelity Bank); Miriam Olusanya (GT Bank); Ireti Samuel-Ogbu (CitiBank); Kafilat Araoye (Lotus Bank); Halima Buba (SunTrust Bank); Oluwatomi Somefun (Unity Bank); Bukola Smith (FSDH Merchant Bank); Yetunde Oni (Union Bank) and Bolaji Agbede of Access Holdings.

The banking sector has witnessed significant strides towards gender diversity, with trailblazers like Bola Kuforiji-Olubi, who chaired the board of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) in 1984, setting the precedent. Ibukun Awosika’s appointment as chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Limited in 2015 marked a historic milestone, becoming the first woman to hold the position since the bank’s inception in 1894.

The appointments of Mosunmola Belo-Olusoga as chairman of Access Bank Plc and Osaretin Demuren as chairman of Guaranty Trust Bank in 2015 further underscore Nigeria’s progress in achieving gender balance at the highest echelons of the banking sector.

Despite Nigeria’s patriarchal underpinnings, the country has made significant strides towards gender equality, evident in the rising number of women assuming leadership roles and driving economic growth across various sectors.

In the pursuit of robust governance and sustainable growth, fostering gender diversity in leadership remains not just a goal but a strategic imperative for organisations navigating today’s complex business landscape.


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