Banking on women – Executive leaders play an important role in fostering gender equality says Murorua
A voluntarily adopted transformation charter – The Namibian Financial Sector Charter – introduced by the Ministry of Finance in November 2008, constitutes a framework and establishes the principles upon which empowerment is to be implemented in the financial services industry by the end of 2021.
To this, Martha Murorua, Manging Director of Nedbank says, “Namibia has seen great strides the past few years with an active focus on ensuring transformation and gender diversity in financial services”.
Appointed in 2020, to lead the commercial entity, she is by no means new to the financial services sector and has spent over two decades contributing toward shaping the industry.
Murorua is also one of four female executives recently honoured by the Governor of the Bank of Namibia, Mr. Johannes !Gawaxab for their involvement to the sector.
In a 2018 study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Women in Finance: A Case for Closing Gaps, found that greater inclusion of women as users, providers, and regulators of financial services would have benefits that stretch beyond addressing gender inequality. By narrowing the gap, greater stability within the banking systems would be fostered, thereby enhancing economic growth as well as contributing to a more effective monetary and fiscal policy.
The IMF, has been promoting women in leadership roles since 2011 when the institution appointed its first female Chair of the Executive Board and Managing Director. Her successor, a Bulgarian economist and another female powerhouse in the finance world, Kristalina Georgieva. Georgieva is also known for being the first person from an emerging economy to head up the institution.
During the same year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published findings that women accounted for less than 2% of financial institutions’ CEOs and less than 20% of executive board members. The proportions of women on the boards of banking-supervision agencies was also low at an average of only 17% in 2015.
When one considers the global statistics of women in leadership positions in banking, sub-Saharan African countries have the highest share of female banking executives, while Latin America and the Caribbean have the lowest. The more advanced economies are in the middle, according to the WEF.
Internationally when we focus on the banking industry alone, we learn of Citigroup appointing the first-ever female President and CEO of Consumer Banking to lead a Wall Street Bank – Jane Fraser in 2020. Regionally, commercial banks followed this global trend, making great strides by appointing women in senior roles traditionally been held by men.
On the local front, the stubborn reality of male domination in the boardroom has too been disrupted starting in 2014 and has now progressed to four of the country’s five commercial banks, with a combined value of over N$90 billion, being head by women.
Murorua believes that executive leaders play an important role in fostering gender equality. They are responsible for promoting social change, from helping to forge an inclusive society where diversity is celebrated to building workplaces where women’s careers can flourish. “It is important to shine a light on industry and workplace champions actively forging gender equality and learn how they #ChooseToChallenge. My journey has been one of calculated risk, consistency, going the extra mile, putting in the time and rising from every fall. I therefore, aim to fully maximise our opportunities” she says.
As we approach a new and crucial year for working women, Murorua calls on us to support International Women’s Day approaching on 8 March, under the theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”
She pledges to call out inequality, question stereotypes and encourage people to commit to helping forge an inclusive world.
“It is our collective duty step up as employers and provide women with the tools they need to be able to continue to play the vital role they play in the Namibian workforce. We must take on a panoramic view of gender diversity across all stakeholders. This will lead to creative solutions in defining an action plan, embedding diversity and inclusion as part of business strategy, and calling for public commitment to gender equality in financial services. And in so doing, pushes the gender agenda into the daily path of executive committees” she concludes.