The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Chair Centre Group, Ibukun Awosika, has urged women to be more confident about their abilities and in the value they bring to the table in the corporate world.
She said women were already working in a context that did not fully facilitate the maximisation of their potentials and, therefore, in order to break such norms, women needed to rethink the level of confidence they approached opportunities within the corporate world with.
She was speaking at the second edition of the Pan African Women’s Conference in Accra last Thursday.
“Half of the time, women give up on opportunities that they are overqualified for and sometimes women tell themselves they cannot win even when they have more than enough capacity.
“We need to be a lot more strategic and a lot more confident in the value we bring to the table and be more assured of our own gifting and talents,” the CEO who was speaking via zoom to a large congregation of women who participated in the forum said.
The conference, formed part of the 7th anniversary of Access Bank’s ‘W’ initiative, an empowerment drive to support women succeed in their various fields of endeavour.
It was on the theme, “Woman, be unstoppable; Break the bias”.
The conference, which was in partnership with ScaleUp Africa was also part of activities to mark the anniversary and to celebrate the efforts and achievements of women globally, in line with this year's theme for the International Women's Day.
It brought together several women leaders in different spheres of life to deliberate on how to support each other, build capacities to ultimately break the bias.
The event was also used to recognise 30 of the bank’s key female customers for their contributions and continued business towards the growth and success of the Bank, since the launch of the "W" Initiative.
Ms Awosika said women needed a thriving environment that provided them with better support systems that gave them greater confidence to step out and compete for opportunities.
To actualise this, she said women must be each other’s support system, adding: “For we as women to break our own biases, we must be unafraid to step out and compete for opportunities, take on challenges and speak on behalf of other women.
“A woman in the place of power, must be able to speak up for that other woman and it does not matter if you are the only woman in that boardroom, speak up for her if you know she is capable,” she added.
She further charged women to have honest conversations and conduct a thorough self-analysis of their gaps and make conscious efforts to close those gaps.
That, she said, would give them the needed capacity to compete for opportunities in the corporate world.
To build and sustain resilience in the corporate world, she urged women to continue building their capacities, adding: “if you have a plan to take up a position in five years, be ready by the third year”.
The Access Bank’s Executive Director in charge of retail and digital operations, Pearl Nkrumah, urged women not to limit themselves.
“We need to desist from limiting women's right from their childhood to certain roles and be intentional about breaking the bias,” she added.
Access Bank efforts
The Group Head of Retail Banking, Matilda Asante-Asiedu, explained that the bank had engaged over 400,000 female entrepreneurs and given them capacity training and invested in their businesses by giving them loans.
Currently, she said the bank was working with Mastercard Foundation on a project to reach out to women in rural areas to give them the power of savings to enable their businesses to thrive.
She said increasingly, women were delaying childbirth because of their career aspirations, hence the bank had also developed a product to offer women the chance to invest in fertility which is expensive.
“So, the bank is making that available at a concessionary rate,” she added.