Company Boards Need To Have Women to Enhance Their Profiles

PCGI board member Nur Bano Ali said companies have heard the message that gender diversity will help both their image and their business.
05 Apr 2019 14:46
Company Boards Need To Have Women to Enhance Their Profiles
From left: Consumer Council of Fiji chief executive officer Seema Shandil, Fiji Fish Group Financial Controller Anabel Ali, Pacific Corporate Governance Institute (PCGI) board member Nur Bano Ali, South Pacific Stock Exchange chief executive officer Krishika Narayan, Fiji Revenue and Customs Service technical advisor Sujatha Nair and Fijian Holdings Class ‘A’ director, Kalpana Lal during the PCGI Summit at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel on April 4, 2019. Photo: Maraia Vula

In a room full of men, during the inaugural Pacific Governance Summit, hosted by the Pacific Corporate Governance Institute (PCGI), questions were raised on gender diversity on boards.

The summit was attended by scores of 140 business people at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel yesterday.

PCGI board member Nur Bano Ali said companies have heard the message that gender diversity will help both their image and their business.

But while progress is being made, especially at board level, reports have pointed out that companies need to go beyond the token appointment of one or two women to their boards before any positive impact is felt.

Since inception last year, PCGI has provided training and implemented awareness initiatives for over 300 people – about one-third of whom were women – on various topics ranging from “governance for family businesses” to “board gender diversity”.

Ms Ali said 50 per cent of the population is made up of women, who also make most consumer decision like it or not.

Women’s contribution

She highlighted that more than 80 per cent of consumer decisions are made by women, so to ignore their voice is ignoring a huge customer base from a business point of view.

From an ethical and moral point of view, she noted that women bring more integrity, honesty, transparency and accountability and they are more accountable more aware of something going wrong.

She said some things which companies are missing out on the highest level are integrity, honesty, transparency and accountability and disclosure which women can bring to the board level.

Women, she said, bring different thought process ‘when you have both men and women on boards they come up with best results.

She highlighted that we can’t have all women or all men on boards, we must have a mix, to ensure there is more robust debate to bring out the best results.

Ms Ali is calling on women out here to be part of boards as it is an opportunity for them because companies and Fiji is ready to accept women in leadership.

She said check your credentials and put your hands up, prepare yourselves to take this position and don’t say no, when you are offered this position.

She noted from a Women In Business point of view they have submitted a recommendation to Government if there could be a national policy of some form or requirement or disclosure requirement even to say that there should have at least 30 per cent of female directors considered for any board for decision making level or sitting panels.

If it comes from that perspective she said they can be able to drive it harder in terms of getting more women on board.

More Training

She highlighted that they have been offering training to women on board preparatory workshops teaching them of how to be a board member.

PCGI board member Nesbitt Hazelman said what he is more agreeable to is the levels of expertise brought in by women and the contribution
they make to the board level.

He said they should be thinking about what is their contribution, at the end of the day that’s what they are going to be measured on, whether your male or female.

He said this is because the contribution to the board ensures the success of the company at all times.

He also noted that they have a young cohort of potential board members coming on board and taking courses and being part of the programme to make Fiji a better place in terms of Corporate Governance.

He said once these young people are trained, they are able to take up board positions.

He also stressed that employers who feel are they have young people capable of moving up the ladder, to allow them to sit on various boards should they have the capacity and ability to do so.

He also noted that the whole week was a huge success and that the Summit will be an annual event.


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