A speech delivered by Mrs. Chioma Mordi, Chief Executive Officer, Society for Corporate Governance Nigeria (SCGN) at the International Women’s Day Roundtable themed: “Board-Ready Female: Modeling Ethical Leadership and Driving Transformation”
Good morning, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. It is an honour to speak to you today on the topic of “Board-Ready Female: Modeling Ethical Leadership and Driving Transformation.”
Businesses are today an integral part of society. Little wonder then that the expectations for businesses are higher than ever.
In the quest for sustainability, this expectation places a new burden on business leaders and increases the need for social accountability. One of the most important drivers of sustainability on corporate boards, according to studies, is gender diversity.
In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, it is more critical than ever to have a diverse and inclusive board that reflects the needs and interests of all stakeholders. This includes the need for more women in leadership positions, especially in the boardroom. Research has shown that companies with diverse boards perform better than those with homogenous boards. They have a wider range of perspectives, better decision-making, and improved corporate governance.
One crucial aspect of board diversity is the representation of women. Despite the progress made in recent years, women are still underrepresented on corporate boards. According to a recent report, women hold 22.5 per cent of board seats in Fortune 500 companies in 2020. This is a concerning statistic, as research has shown that companies with diverse boards outperform their peers in several key areas, including innovation, financial performance, and risk management.
Moreover, having more women on corporate boards can lead to a more ethical and sustainable corporate culture. Women tend to bring a different perspective to the table, which can help to identify and address ethical and social issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.
However, having women on corporate boards is not enough. Board-ready females must also model ethical leadership and drive transformation. Ethical leadership refers to leading by example, making decisions based on principles, and prioritizing the long-term interests of all stakeholders. Driving transformation means being willing to challenge the status quo, taking risks, and embracing change.
So, what does it mean to be a board-ready female? Being board-ready means having the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to serve on a corporate board effectively. It means understanding the complexities of the business environment and being able to provide valuable insights and perspectives that contribute to the board’s decision-making process.
To be Board-ready, women, like everyone else, must have the following qualities:
Firstly, they should have a strong sense of ethics and integrity. They should be able to make decisions based on principles rather than personal interests.
Secondly, they should have a deep understanding of the industry, the company, and the markets it operates in. They should be able to analyze data and identify trends that can help the company stay ahead of the competition.
Thirdly, they should be excellent communicators. They should be able to articulate complex ideas and persuade others to support their position.
Fourthly, they should be able to collaborate effectively with others. They should be team players who can work together with others to achieve common goals.
Fifthly, they should have a growth mindset. They should be willing to take risks, learn from their mistakes, and adapt to changing circumstances.
Importance of Having Women on Boards
The consensus is that it is important to have women on corporate boards. Several reasons have been adduced for this including:
Most importantly, women bring diverse perspectives to the table. They approach issues from different angles and can provide unique solutions that men may not consider.
In addition, research has shown that companies with more women on boards perform better financially. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies with diverse executive boards had a 36 per cent higher return on equity than those without.
Furthermore, having more women on boards is a sign of progress and equality in society. It sends a message that women are capable of holding leadership positions and making significant contributions to the success of the organisation.
Ethical leadership is crucial in today’s business world. It involves making decisions that are in line with moral and ethical principles. Women are often seen as having a higher sense of morality and ethics, which makes them natural ethical leaders. Women on boards can help promote ethical behaviour and decision-making, which ultimately benefits the company and its stakeholders. Studies have shown that companies with more women on boards are less likely to engage in unethical behaviour or financial fraud.
Transformational leadership involves inspiring and motivating employees to achieve a common goal. Women on boards can bring a transformational leadership style to the table. They can motivate employees, set a clear vision for the company, and inspire others to work towards achieving that vision. Women leaders are often more collaborative and communicative, which helps build a strong corporate culture. This ultimately benefits the company’s bottom line, as employees are more engaged and productive.
How Board-Ready Females CAN Model Ethical Leadership/ Drive Transformation
Firstly, they can lead by example. By demonstrating ethical behaviour and making decisions based on principles, they can set a positive example for others to follow. These principles, must, of course, align with the organisation’s mission, vision, and values and be integrated into all aspects of the company’s operations.
Secondly, they can challenge the status quo. By asking difficult questions and proposing innovative solutions, they can help the organisation adapt to changing circumstances. This will also involve fostering a culture of transparency and accountability by providing clear and accurate information to all stakeholders and by holding themselves and their executives accountable for their actions.
Thirdly, they can prioritize the long-term interests of all stakeholders. By taking a broader view of the organisation’s impact on society and the environment, they can help ensure the organisation’s sustainability and success. They can actively engage with stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and the community, to understand their needs and concerns and to develop strategies that align with their interests.
Fourthly, they can foster a culture of diversity and inclusion. By encouraging different perspectives and promoting a culture of respect and openness, they can help create a more inclusive and innovative organisation.
Finally, they can be agents of change. By embracing technology and innovation, they can help the organisation stay ahead of the competition and create new opportunities. They can lead the adoption of technology and innovation to drive transformation within the organisation. This can include implementing new technologies, developing new business models, and exploring new markets.
In the words of Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, “If you want to make a difference and be a leader, you have to be willing to take risks, and that includes standing up for what you believe in, even when it’s hard.” As board-ready females, it is our responsibility to model ethical leadership and drive transformation. We must be willing to take risks, challenge the status quo, and hold other leaders accountable for their actions.
Promoting board-ready females is not just a matter of diversity and inclusion; it is a matter of business success and sustainability. By embracing these principles, we can build a more resilient and prosperous future for our organisations, our stakeholders, and our society.
This is the goal of International Women’s Day! To celebrate women’s achievements, increase visibility and set the stage for a more inclusive future.
Thank you for your attention.
Chioma Mordi is the MD/CEO
About The Society for Corporate Governance Nigeria
SCGN is a registered not-for-profit organisation committed to the development of corporate governance best practices in Nigeria. Today, the Society is the foremost institution committed to the development and promotion of corporate governance best practices in Nigeria. firstname.lastname@example.org