THE Ghanaian chief executive of electricity company Daystar Power, Olaedo Osoka, said on Monday that Africa was leading the way in gender diversity and served as a model for other continents.
Osoka was speaking in Accra ahead of the eighth Africa CEO Forum taking place on March 9 and 10 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The forum starts straight after International Women’s Day on March 8.
Osoka said the timing may be coincidental, but the topic of women would be at the top of the agenda of the Pan-African exchange of experiences. The 2020 forum aimed to raise the profile of women in decision-making positions on the continent, she said.
‘There is a clear economic imperative for diversity. Beyond intuition, empirical data shows that greater gender diversity gives businesses a competitive edge.
‘Companies with more women (in revenue-generating roles) enjoy higher financial returns and superior value creation. The (International Monetary Fund) IMF also posits that adding one woman to senior management or boards, while retaining the size of senior teams, is associated with eight to 13 basis points higher return on assets,’ said Osoka.
Africa surpassed other continents in the representation of women in company boards and was a model for other regions, she said, adding that one in four board seats on the continent was occupied by a woman, compared to the global and European averages of 17 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
‘Yet, women are still underrepresented, and many remain economically and politically excluded.
‘Improving the representation of women isn’t only fair but also critical for sustainable economic growth. The future and the strength of the global and African economy depend on the extent of the inclusiveness of women. This should transcend economic opportunities and include greater access to corporate and political decision-making positions.’
Osoka said companies with foresight would recruit, train, sponsor and create economic opportunities for women. In doing so, they would be maximising their chances of long-term success.
‘As the case for greater diversity becomes more compelling, dialogue and awareness – which the forum will provide – is helpful. Beyond this, however, we need commitment, actionable plans and real accountability towards intentionally creating opportunities for women to lead and accelerate growth on the continent.’
The annual Africa CEO Forum is touted as a meeting of decision-makers from Africa’s largest companies as well as international investors, multinational executives, heads of state, ministers and representatives of the continent’s major financial institutions.