During a 2012 CBN Bankers Committee stakeholders’ forum on diversity in the banking sector, CNBC Africa cornered Bola Adesola for a quick interview. Back then, she had just been promoted to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Ltd. And she was present at the meeting because the topic of gender equality is something so dear to her. While speaking to the CNBC reporter, she raised an important point – how come there are so many women working in the African banking sector and very few of them occupying key management positions?
“In the banking industry at the entry level, you have more or less a fifty-fifty employment of women. As you know, there are probably more women coming out the universities than men. But what we’ve also found is that there are few and fewer women at the top. And again, that begs the question – why?” she said.
The issue of gender inequality is a pervasive problem that is not peculiar to the banking sector. A 2015 survey by the African Development Bank found that out of the 307 biggest companies in Africa (many of which are banks), women only accounted for 14% of total board membership. Again, this is a very sad reality, although possible improvements may have occurred between 2015 and date. Women like Bola Adesola have been on the forefront of this fight for gender balance.
So, who is Bola Adesola?
Bola Adesola ((also known by her full name Harriet-Ann Omobolanle Adesola), is a Nigerian banker and executive director. Upon graduation from the Nigerian Law School in 1985, she had her mind set on a career path that had nothing to do with banking. The University of Buckingham-trained lawyer initially worked as a corporate lawyer until 1990 when she made the switch to the banking sector. Ever since then, she has had about thirty years’ worth of experience in the sector, gradually rising to the highest echelon of decision-making. She has also ensured to pave the way for other women to climb up the corporate ladder.
A complete timeline of Adesola’s Career Advancements
Between 1985 and 1990, Mrs Adesola worked as a full-time corporate lawyer in Nigeria whilst ensuring to undergo studies in Accounting and Advanced Management at the Harvard Business School…
EDITOR’S NOTE: You may read the rest of the profile on Joomag. It’s on page 36 of our 50 Most Influential Women in Business edition. Follow this link.
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