An inclusive environment is the foundation for sustainable profitability in every organisation worldwide. Such an environment allows all staff to be better and more productive and feel respected and valued for what they bring to the common table.
How well has corporate Nigeria done to promote inclusivity? In commemoration of Women’s History Month 2023, we highlight data on this, with a special focus on gender barriers.
Inclusivity is intertwined with equality — a situation when all individuals have commensurate opportunities and resources to utilise those opportunities. In the corporate world, equality means allowing everyone to be formally, legally and decently employed despite their peculiarities.
In our Gender Barriers Report; Unmasking the Barriers to Women’s Participation in Nigeria’s Labour Market, the numbers speak loud: 95% of all employed women in Nigeria work in the informal sector. These numbers do not reflect the actual career aspirations of many Nigerian women. However, 51% of Nigerian women across Lagos, Kano and Kaduna desire employment in the formal sector, yet only 1 million of women in these states are formally employed.
Our research also revealed that organisational barriers are the second limiting factor towards achieving gender equality in Nigeria. Organisational barriers are outside the control of these women, and overcoming them mostly depends on the employers` willingness to create and maintain gender-inclusive workplaces. Incidentally, 43% of Nigerian employers suggest that one of the leading causes of women’s passiveness in the labour market is a lack of desire to work – which conflicts with the type of work women say they desire. The suggestion itself undermines gender equality and makes employers prejudiced towards hiring women.
The dangers of gender inequality for organisations are numerous. There are undiversified teams, myopic and limited perspectives on workflow, jaundiced employee feedback and eventual underperformance compared to more inclusive industry peers.
As a human resource consulting firm, we propose 5 strategies on how your organisation can remove gender barriers in the quest for workplace inclusivity:
- Sensitise senior managers on why gender equality is rewarding.
Real changes start at the top. If senior executives in the organisation see no specific benefits to
have a diverse team and maintain a conducive environment for female employees, all attempts to address gender inequality in the company will fail. Your c-suite unit should work in tandem with HR to get it right.
- Set employment quotas for women.
To leapfrog the gender inequality barriers, especially in male dominated industries, consider establishing hiring quotas to recruit not less than a certain number of women per period. But ensure to provide sufficient productivity tools that will help new female staff thrive.
- Design a hard skills training for female employees.
Our data showed that 72% of Nigerian employers think that women require more training to work productively. If you decide to hire more female employees, plan ahead what internal upskilling options will be available in your organisation to help them perform up to your standards.
- Host Soft Skills training for already onboarded employees.
Some employed women tend to leave their workplace because the environment is unfriendly to them. Train your employees to communicate respectfully to their colleagues and jointly create a workplace where everyone feels comfortable working and growing. We offer a free Soft Skills training programme for employers looking to upskill their employees. Check it out here.
- Create regulatory HR policies to maintain principles of equality.
Beyond sensitisation and training, employees across all levels need practical guidelines that help them understand the possible consequences of discriminatory actions and inactions. Make sure that these policies keep executives accountable, too.
At Jobberman, we work to eliminate gender barriers through focus research, thought leadership events and, of course, supporting our own Jobberwomen.
On March 8, we hosted a live session with four senior female corporate management experts who spoke about the importance, essence and development of gender parity in the workplace. The insights they shared include practical strategies on how organisations can create an inclusive environment for all.
We also curated various fun and inspiring activities to celebrate our JobberWomen. See excerpts here.