Are Equal Opportunities Enough?

Dear Sara Woman,

How are you doing today? With all the noise, cash scarcity, coupled with the excessive charges on transactions by Point of Sales (POS) agents, has also brought about an increase in the prices of commodities, just as the situation is crippling businesses that are heavily cash dependent, it is easy to get swept up in the heat of it all. I would like you to cling to hope, despite the current happenings around you. Hope makes our present moments less difficult to bear.

I’m pleased to inform you that it is that time of the year again, where like clockwork; you can expect to see a slew of questions from the usual suspects. “What about the men?”, “Is it all the time, women? How many mother’s days are there? In the spirit of focusing on other things, we hope you can take some time for yourself to enjoy the recognition that you deserve as a woman. For all our community members who attended the last International Women’s Day 2023 edition, you will agree with me that it was a swell time at the conference. WEMA BANK commemorated the 2023 edition in grand style as women from various fields converged at Civic Center in Lagos to discuss the significance of gender equality and equity.

The event was hosted both virtual and physical, where diverse people joined the session to discuss several topics of the event. With thought leaders like Mrs. Audrey JoeEzigbo, Fela Durotoye, Oluwatosin Olaseinde, and Adenike Oyetunde Lawal on the panel with very inspiring discussions on different topical issues including women empowerment, reaching career goals, and also closing gender gaps in the workplace. The speakers also shared their experiences and perspectives on how women can achieve their career goals.

Our #He4She4life, The MD CEO of WEMA Bank, Moruf Oseni, passionately spoke about the bank’s commitment to reducing the gender gap and emphasized the need for equity to drive sustainable development in the sector. He stressed the importance of providing women equal access to opportunities, resources, and support to achieve their career goals. WEMA bank also appreciated the oldest female customer by age in WEMA BANK, Mrs. Abimbola Olufunmilola Payne, and the most engaging Sara community member.

Wema Bank Plc through its female proposition, Sara by Wema, also launched The Big Sister Project to support female staff in the area of equity in the workplace and improve their lives. They were also trained to mentor
younger female professionals and entrepreneurs.

A snippet from the event captured by TVC can be seen here. If you would like to catch up or think you missed out on something, you can also access the International Women’s Day conference program via this link. Now, back to my question, are equal opportunities enough? Sure, they are an essential step towards achieving equity. Years back, women couldn’t vote, were sparsely educated, and were incredibly disadvantaged in many ways than one. We have things better now, but they are still not enough on their own.

Women make up a significant portion of the population. In Nigeria alone, we are over 105 million. That’s pretty big, right? And it is great to see the progress we’ve made in terms of financial literacy and management. Please permit me to brag a little more. Take a look at millionaires like Mo Abudu and Alakija. Now, that’s real proof! Yet, we can’t say we’ve truly won. Significant gaps still exist between men and women when it comes to earnings and wealth. As of November last year, the gender gap regarding financial inclusion in Nigeria remains persistent at 8%, according to the deputy governor of CBN. But we have to start somewhere, right? So, let’s begin with where you get your daily bread, the workplace. Fortunately, there are practical steps we can take to bridge this gap:

  1. Negotiate your salary: Don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary and benefits when starting a new job or during annual reviews. You’d be surprised that the colleague you are on the same level with, is probably earning more than you because they opened their mouths and spoke up.
  2. An open-door policy for employees to voice any concerns about unfair practices of any kind: This one is for the managers and CEOs. Trust me, you may not see anything wrong or discriminatory in the policies you are boldly making. Whether it’s in a pay gap or not, give others the opportunity to tell you when you aren’t getting things right.
  3. Mentor People: Knowledgeable in one or more fields? Thousands of persons with potential would be better off financially if they could just be mentored. Help people in any way you can to hone skills and advance their careers. Good things that go around, come around too. You can join the SARA community to connect with like minds and mentorship.
  4. Upskill: Sometimes, to earn better, you have to be better. Invest in training programs and courses. It could be your money; it could be your time or even both. And if you are an employer, make training programs accessible to employees. You are contributing to their lives in many ways you don’t even know. And if you are a female entrepreneur, there’s no one solution to fixing the problem of the lack of investment in women-founded startups. The smartest thing that you can do to increase your chances of raising funds is to network with other female founders. Learn to network and connect! Do you know that our membership gives you exclusive access to finance training, mentorship, Health plan, Deals & discounts, and Community and curated events? You can join our community by clicking on the link. Home – Sara By Wema Bank.

As we continue to strive for a more equitable society, it is important that we focus on promoting equal opportunities for women at work and everywhere in general, especially when it comes to financial matters. This means ensuring that women receive equal pay for equal work and are given the same opportunities for career advancement.