WIMCA 2019: Experts chart ways for more gender-balanced IMC’s board rooms

Figures on the fact sheet should, ordinarily, guarantee them a fair share of the global ‘cake’.  According to statistics reeled out by Worldometers, a live world statistics on population, government and economics,  out of the world’s  7.62 billion population, in 2018, the feminine gender constituted a decent 49.56 per cent, almost half of the population; a considerable population figure, by every standard.

Other reports even have it that a huge number of girls/ladies at the secondary and tertiary levels of education, all over the globe, have continued to make exploits, too.

Curiously, in spite of the impressive figures, showings and feats being achieved by the feminine gender, around the world, not a few are of the belief that the necessary recognitions that should have accompanied such exploits are still not there.

For instance, a cursory look at the global scene revealed that the number of female CEOs in 2019, according to Fortune 500, still stands at a paltry 6.6 per cent, though a ‘considerable’ jump from 2018’s total of 24 of 4.8 per cent.

Nigeria is not left out of the seeming ‘apartheid’ against women and its resultant imbalance in the boardrooms, too. For instance, only four, out of the top 20 Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) member agencies have women calling the shots, as the agencies’ CEOs; while two out of the nation’s 21 commercial banks have female chief executive officers.

The story is most unpalatable in one of the sub-sectors of the nation’s integrated marketing communications, the media independent agencies. None of the 10 major agencies in the sub-sector can boasts of a female chief executive.

Other sub-sectors of the industry, cutting across agencies and clients’ sides, seem to have also shut their doors firmly against women, regarding sitting on the ‘executive’ chairs of their firms. Very few women pilot the affairs of these organisations; though a good number of them call the shots as Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs).

Not a few, therefore, would see this year’s edition of the Women in Marketing Communications Conference/Award (WIMCA), held recently in Lagos, as imperative and auspicious.

For instance, it provided the much-needed opportunity to bring to the fore the burning issue of ensuring more participation of the feminine gender, in the boardrooms, especially in the nation’s marketing communications space.

The event, according to the organisers, Brand Communicators, stemmed from the need to urgently identify the current trends in the nation’s marketing communications industry and address the career challenges being faced by female marketing professionals.

Explaining the rationale behind the event, Mr Joshua Ajayi, Publisher of the Brand Communicators and convener of the event, argued that this year’s edition of the annual forum, provided the platform for marketers to seek new ways of connecting and engaging the female population.

He explained that this year’s edition of the award tagged ‘Better the Balance in the Brands and Marketing Communications Industry’, was aimed at renewing the call for gender equity and charting the way forward for professionals in the nation’s marketing communications industry, in sync with this year’s International Women’s Day’s theme, Better the Balance.

“The theme is a reminder to us in this industry that the race is on for gender-balanced boardrooms, government, workforces, media coverage, income and wealth distribution among others.

“Interestingly, the industry, the nation, the continent and the world, generally, have in the few couple of years recorded history, defining achievements in gender balance, though, there is more to be done,” Ajayi stated.

Speaking on the theme, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of WEMA Bank and the event’s Keynote Speaker, Mr Ademola Adebise,  commended the feminine gender for their contribution to the growth of the  nation’s marketing  communications industry. He harped on the need to be focused and more deliberate to be able to secure more space in the boardroom.

Adebise, who was represented by the bank’s Chief Finance Officer, Mr Tunde Mabawonku, added that getting more women involved in governance, economics and boardroom would go a long way in enhancing the nation’s economic growth.

“For instance, women are more honest, that is why you find out in banks that they hardly default, when they take loans. So I think the issue is about encouraging them to stay focused,” he argued.

He also charged the womenfolk to up for themselves, set goals and work assiduously to achieve those goals.

“You should exude confidence by being good at what you do, be a role model, set goals and go for those goals. This, no doubt, would earn you the necessary attention from the boardroom,” he stated.

Another Keynote Speaker, Mr John Ugbe, believes, if well harnessed, the abundant potential, possessed by the womenfolk, should  guarantee them some ‘decent’ representations  in  boardrooms and governance.

Ugbe, who is also the CEO, MultiChoice Nigeria, however harped on the need for the society to encourage and provide the necessary support for the feminine gender to succeed.

“There are some things women are better at. For instance, when it comes to multi-tasking, I think they have it more than men. I think it will not be out of place to think of how to encourage them in that regard and leverage such skills,” he stated.

The Multichoice Nigeria boss added that one way such support could be rendered is by turning some of the challenges, presently facing the women folk in the society, into opportunities.

“If you think it is the kids that will make them lag in the workplace, why not provide such comfort in the workplace for the kids, so that the attention of the mothers would no longer be divided? We have to take up all these challenges and turn them into opportunities,” he added.

While stressing the need for the society, especially the marketing communications industry to celebrate the achievements of women, Ugbe explained that the creation of the Multichoice Women’s Forum, by the paytv service provider, is aimed at recognising and celebrating the achievements of women, in its operating environments.

At the second session of the conference, Dr Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien, Group Chief, Sustainability & Governance, Dangote Industries Limited who spoke on the sub-theme, ‘Better the Balance in the Work Place; Equity or Equality?’ described women in business, as a ‘dedicated lot’, but insisted that for them to find their way to the top, they must “define and understand ‘the problem’ and align with a global movement.”

In his goodwill message, former Chairman of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) and the Group Managing Director, S.O&U, Mr Udeme Ufot, stated that the forum had become imperative; since the feminine gender, in this part of the globe, belongs to a culture where it is naturally relegated to the background.

He however noted that for women to get the much-needed attention from the boardrooms, they must be ready to fight for the available ‘opportunities’.

“Success or failure is a personal choice. You must be determined to achieve the impossible and contest the space with men,” he counselled.

The event also provided the opportunity for organisers to celebrate prominent and outstanding female marketing professionals in the nation’s IMC space.

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