The Institute of Directors Nigeria (IoD) has advocated for a more diversified board in corporate organisations across the country in order to deepen gender equity in the private sector of the economy and inclusion of more women in governance.
“I think it is imperative for us to address the nitty-gritty of the evolving nature of boards of which a major focus is on the inclusion of women in nation building. The main aim is to create and raise awareness about the extent of female participation in all aspects of the economy,” Demola Osibogun, chairman, women directors development committee of the IoD, said.
Speaking at the recent 2022 Women Directors’ Annual Conference themed, ‘Facing Forward: The Evolving Nature of Boards in a Rapidly Changing World’, which held at the Ecobank Pan African Centre, Lagos, Osibogun said that the conference was designed to broaden the horizon of women as an advocacy forum of the institute. “The conference is an advocacy forum to continuously propound the importance and imperatives in creating gender-inclusive growth as a cornerstone of sustainable development,” Osibogun said.
According to her, the theme is a wakeup call for boards because of its evolving nature. “The choice of this important theme was carefully made in recognition of the global paradigm shift. The scope of change is massive, the pace is extremely rapid, everyone is affected, and huge expectations are firmly placed on the shoulders of company owners, boards and management”.
She reiterated that the IoD remains committed to promoting best corporate governance practices, including the need for increased female participation both in the private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy.
According to her, issues of board diversity are critical to the sustainability of business and organisations.
Kunle Elebute, chairman, KPMG Africa, in his keynote address, urged the female directors to think strategically, stating that cost of management is a day-to-day activity. He said that it is critical for the focus of the boards to increasingly go beyond the fast-paced changes in technology; impact of the global economy; rising talent emigration levels; increased stakeholder expectations; social norms; inclusion and diversity. “With the changing times, it is critical that the boards continually evolve to remain relevant”, Elebute said.
According to him, boards must be able to engage in strategy and in envisioning the future of the business by developing a vivid picture of the future.
“Reassess the board’s engagement in strategy, digital transformation and other accelerating mega trends. Review the alignment of corporate purpose, culture, values and strategy, and identify specific practices to drive quality boardroom discussions about strategy and future of the business,” he said.
The KPMG chair also urged that directors must prioritize talent, human capital management and CEO succession. He said these will help in identifying key talent categories in short supply and the company’s strategy to successfully compete for these talents.
“Ensure that the company is prepared for a CEO change either based on succession or an emergency. Understand the company’s talent strategy and its alignment with the broader strategy and forecast needs for the short and long-term,” Elebute said.
Ije Jidenma, president and chairman of governing council, IoD, in her welcome address, said that progressive board now goes beyond compliance, stating that careful deployment of talent yields better outcomes.
Razia Khan, chief economist and head of research, Middle East and Africa (MEA), Standard Chartered Bank, stated that there is a new growth headwind for Sub Saharan Africa. He advised that central banks might have to slow growth to ensure stability.