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Nuggest From WIMBIZ 2017 Annual Lecture By Nimi Akinkugbe

The 2017 WIMBIZ Annual Lecture themed Bold Steps in the Face of Uncertainty”which held on Tuesday, March 7 challenge women to push the envelope and chart new territories in line with our objective to empower women to achieve their potential and become meaningful contributors to economic development. The Lecture by Mo'Abudu was delivered on the eve of the International Women’s Day, in efforts to align with this year’s theme, “Be Bold for Change”. 

Here are some nuggets from Mo Abudu's Lecture compiled by Nimi Akinkugbe 

Who are you? What is your Unique Selling Proposition? (Mo’s is persistence and consistency). What are your strengths and weaknesses? Build on your strengths but give some attention to your weaknesses. You can take steps to correct some of your shortcomings.

It is your responsibility to seek and find your God given purpose. You are more likely to excel if you do what you are made to do. 

You can't achieve your dream by staying put in your room. You do have to venture out to meet people and be connected. 

Believe in your dream no matter how big or scary it is. Write your ideas down. There will be “Dream Makers” and "Dream Killers.” Don't get put off by the dream killers; learn from their criticism. If necessary, go back to the drawing board and come back stronger. 

You can't do everything alone. Collaborate with experts that can execute. Build partnerships. Don't be casual about such relationships; trust is critical. Partnerships can and do break up. Legal agreements should clearly address such eventualities, including exit. 

Your team drives your success. Invest in your people and empower them. 

What are you about? How relatable is your business? It is important to make noise about your business. Invest in promoting your brand and let people know what you do. By embracing social media, you can share your story widely.

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‘When the woman starts talking, the men switch off’ – Christine Lagarde on why gender parity is taking so long

Christine Lagarde shared her thoughts on the world’s glacial progress towards gender parity in a Davos session on disrupting the status quo of gender roles

“We have been talking about it for as long as I can remember,” she said, noting that, according to World Economic Forum research, it would take 170 years for the economic gender gap to close, with the rate of progress stalling in the wake of the financial crisis.

The head of the IMF, who was was formerly France’s first female finance minister, then gave some examples to shed light on why parity remains elusive.

“We have to identify our own biases,” she said. “Sometimes you have to identify that when a board member who happens to be a woman takes the floor, guess what, many of the male board members start to withdraw physically, they start to look at their papers, to look at the floor… and you need to disrupt that.”

Lagarde, who once walked out of a job interview when she was told her prospects would be limited as a woman, also said: “When I was Finance Minister, very often the presidents of companies would come and report on their strategies, and when I asked them about their board composition, they would always say - ‘I would love to have a woman on the board, I just can’t find any, and the ones I know are fully booked.’ So I had a bit of paper in my bag with the names of 20 women on it.”
Progress is not easy or straightforward, though. She said that in order for the IMF to reach its gender quotas, in some areas they would have to hire only women for the next five years, which made her uncomfortable. Once they had reached the top, women should support other women: “It’s our responsibility to help others progress along the way.”

In the same session, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the Oscar-winning documentary maker, took aim at the obsession with women and motherhood.

“Women, even if they’re very, very successful, they keep getting asked: how do you juggle family and work? How many male CEOs get asked, how do you juggle being a CEO and having a family? I refuse to answer the question. I am a film-maker. What is a female film-maker?”

Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Panama’s foreign minister, shared an anecdote on how family roles can be deeply ingrained - even for high-flying women.

“I’ve always been a professional but I’ve always taken care of my family… My daughter needed to go to the doctor. I told her, the appointment is made, Daddy is taking you, and she asked, but will he know what to tell the doctor? And I said, but he’s sitting right next to you... Many times men just don’t take on some roles because we don’t let them.”

Article written by Ceri Parker, Commissioning Editor, Agenda, World Economic Forum

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Inspiring The Next Wave of Female Leaders At #WIMBIZAnnualConference

The theme for 2016 International Women’s Day was Pledge for Parity with a focus on getting everyone to accelerate gender parity. The conversation about gender equality in spheres of life particularly in the workspace is an ongoing one that is guaranteed to continue until the desired goal is achieved. Women have and continue to make great strides, accomplishing various feats in several fields, proving that they are just as capable as their male counterparts and sometimes better. So why aren’t there more women in positions of leadership?

At #WIMBIZAnnualConference, we will spotlight the state of gender parity in Africa, as it achieves global prominence as a key Sustainable Development Goal and private sector buzzword. Panelists will examine the different perspectives and what (if any) progress has been made in bridging the gender gap. Participants will be inspired and left with a strong sense of what today's crop of aspiring female leaders should do to leverage increasing focus on diversity to build successful businesses and careers in the private and public service.

Do you know that the WIMBIZ Annual Conference is the largest and most inspiring Conference for women in Nigeria? If you have not registered to attend, what are you waiting for? Visit www.wimbizannualconference.com or send an email to conference@wimbiz.org

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An Unexpected Way to Stop People from Quitting by Ryan Holmes CEO at Hootsuite

At my company, year after year we score high in our employee satisfaction surveys. Yet, despite these results, we still see a sizeable chunk of annual staff turnover. 

This has always bothered me. If people love the company, why are they leaving? In part, it’s simply a sign of the times. Millennials change jobs more frequently: an average of once every 2.5 years during the first decade out of college. That’s double the rate of their Gen X predecessors. 

But I wanted to better understand the actual reasons why this happens. So over the past year, we spoke to a range of employees in an effort to find out. In doing so, I realized it wasn’t about compensation (or, at least, just about compensation). Nor was it problems with bosses or coworkers. Many people were leaving because they wanted to try something new. They wanted to be challenged with a different role and different set of responsibilities.

We were losing A players, in other words, because they were bored. Personal development is far more than just a buzzword to Millennials. In fact, 65% of Millennials say that personal development is themost important factor on the job, according to a UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School study. And this doesn’t mean just leveling up an existing skill set. It means being able to explore and internalize different skills entirely: to learn something new. 

I can relate. As a career entrepreneur, I know the allure of moving from one venture to another, gaining new knowledge with each pivot. But that same dynamic doesn’t always work within a company, where people are hired for discrete roles and expected to excel within clear boundaries. If one of our developers decides he or she is bored with coding and wants to pursue a love of blogging for a living instead, for example, that person probably needs to find a new place to work. 

Or maybe not. 

A lesson from Google’s bungee program
The more I thought about this, the more I realized a pretty universal hiring truth. Great employees are great employees. It’s not the particular skill set that sets them apart, as much as their intrinsic attitude, focus and dedication. And all of these things can transfer readily from role to role. So why not give these exceptional employees a chance to try out new positions within the company, rather than risk losing them altogether? 

Luckily, I had Google to turn to for some inspiration. For some time, Google has operated a unique “bungee program,” which empowers employees to plunge into an entirely different department for a brief period. After learning about the program from my HR team, I wondered if we could flesh out a more robust version of this—with clear rules and guidelines—in our own company. 

The goal was straightforward: to keep good employees in the company. The mechanics proved a bit tricky, though. Which employees would be eligible? What about the hole left when they leave their current roles? How do we ensure that real learning is going on and this isn’t just a waste of everyone’s time? 

We ultimately settled on some ground rules for a "stretch program" of our own. First, participants need to be performing at or above expectations already, based on performance reviews—success in one role is a powerful predictor of success elsewhere, after all—and to have been with the company for at least a year. Assignments to other divisions are capped at three months, giving participants up to a full quarter to test the waters.

To avoid disruption, "stretch" employees spend roughly one day a week on their adopted team during this 90-day period and the remaining time in their official role. Their existing manager needs to sign off on the move and be okay with the reduction in job duties. And importantly, participants are required to draft "learning plans" in advance and get approval from both their current and rotational manager.

At the conclusion of the trial, if the new role is truly working for everyone—and if the new manager has a need and the resources to bring on a new staffer—then that employee can make the jump full-time, once his or her old role has been backfilled. If things don’t work out, no harm done—they're free to return full-time to the original role or try on a new assignment.

How we’re beta-testing our new “stretch program”
Here at Hootsuite, this program is still in pilot stage. We kicked it off earlier this summer with roughly a half-dozen participants, but we’re already seeing some positive results.

A leading salesperson originally focused on large, enterprise-level companies has stretched over to an assignment in our product management group. He's now working alongside our VP of operations to come up with ways of standardizing the life cycle for our products. He spends about 10 hours a week in this role and will wrap up his rotation at the end of September.

A social-media marketing specialist with experience using Facebook and Twitter as promotional tools has jumped over to our corporate development team. He’s taking that tactical, hands-on knowledge of social media and is now evaluating how to incorporate newly acquired products into our larger business strategy. He dedicates about 15 hours a week to this rotation, which concludes in September.

Whether these individuals end up transitioning full-time to their new roles or deciding to return to their home teams, the program still represents a win-win in many respects. Employees who participate get a chance to try out a new calling, without ever leaving the company (which is a whole lot easier than hunting down a new job … only to find out it wasn’t what you were looking for). They build a professional network that extends beyond their team and add a new skill to their toolkit. In the best-case scenario, they actually find a brand new career. 

The benefits flow the other way, too. Hootsuite gets to retain smart, passionate employees who want to grow and evolve. Corporate silos are broken down and employees gain insight—and empathy—into other areas of the business. If you’ve never worked in sales, for instance, you might emerge with newfound appreciation for the hustlers who keep revenue coming in the door.

Ultimately, the desire to learn and evolve isn’t just a Millennial virtue—it’s pretty universal. Giving employees a chance to truly grow—without having to pull up stakes and leave the company—is a common-sense tactic to attract and keep great talent.

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My WIMBIZ Story By Ronke Onadeko

I had been aware of WIMBIZ from its founding year, the concept was interesting but not high on my priority at that time. Timing as they say is crucial because our times and seasons vary. I enjoyed the gist and snippets of information I gathered about the conferences and other activity and at that time it was more than enough for me, somehow you hear more social gist than substance, perhaps people were hoarding the real value, making light of the substance within or didn't know how to express the value they were getting from the organisation and the networks.

Over the years as I got more grounded in my business space I began to feel the need to connect with other professional women for many reasons:

  • Network outside my sector: I knew I needed to start meeting people across sectors, outside my existing network and building relationships in professional and structured organizations. WIMBIZ immediately came to mind.
  • Benchmarking: I needed to find yardsticks to measure my journey, achievements and goals against my superiors and to a lesser degree my peers, particularly to get a closer look at their business and career trajectory to model mine.
  • Capacity Building: There was evidently a need to equip myself with a broader economic, business and personal knowledge on a wider range of topics that wouldn't normally cross my space. 
  •  Expose myself to more Nigeria business practice and methods. There was a business gap I knew existed having worked only as an entrepreneur in a self structured environment and in international organizations, understanding the Nigeria corporate context was important to have and I was naturally curious to have a range of people to check in with periodically.
  • Social Responsibility: Time management issues caused me to consolidate my social responsibility activity towards women, entrepreneurs, youth etc that over the years it had spread across many organisations, FateFoundation, Lagos Business Schools, EDC, Success Digest Leadership Academy, the IFCs STEP program & several tertiary educational facilities in the south west.

The Journey Begins:
I attended a few Annual Lectures and Conferences depending on whether I liked the speaker, I found the theme interesting and even in some cases based on too numerous to ignore text messages and emails from WIMBIZ devotees.

The events I attended were worth it and easily was value for money. That's how the journey started, continued, deepened and improved. Then I joined the devotees in pulling people formerly like me into the fold.

At the start of 2013, I got invited to participate in planning the 2013 Annual Conference which I agreed to with trepidation. I worked with some brilliant and extraordinary result oriented women and spent plenty of sacrificial hours making sure we delivered great content, while meeting the need of modern day women and looking for partnerships to support the conference in excellence. It was both fulfilling and rewarding and I was back on the planning committee in 2014 and 2015. I devoted much of my time to fundraising through individuals and corporates to augment and support some of our flag ship events. In 2013, I also had the opportunity to facilitate at the mentee workshop sharing on my favorite topics: Networking, Goal Setting and Actualization.

I have acted as a mentor for three years and assisted various secretariat activity. There is much bonding that takes place and learning across board. I participated in the 3-6 month internship program to help young women get practical work and professional experience, it guides and prepares them on making their CVs employment ready, positioning them for employability and helping them transit from tertiary school life to work life seamlessly.

WIMBIZ is not all work, there's lots of fun too. There are a few clubs that help us de-stress and gives us the opportunity to enjoy our hobbies with like minded women, one of which is the Food and Tavel club. I've acted as co-chair of this club and met many foodies, we meet monthly to try out new restaurants, recipes, cuisines of other lands and local food. We get instructions and learn how to make the food under the chef's instruction. As if that's not enough fun, anchoring the associates inductions in Abuja and Lagos and the after parties are some of the ways we've let our hair down while welcoming and meeting new associates. 

In 2015, under the WIMBIZ umbrella I got the opportunity to be a speaker at the Global Summit of Women conference in São Paulo, Brazil on Renewable Energy and was invited to serve on the WIMBIZ Executive Council. I understand the enormity and responsibility of being a role model, moreover those who had served before me had made huge strides that one would have to improve on which is no mean feat but what better platform to ride on to meet my CSR goals of improving the lot of career women, young women and female entrepreneurs. WIMBIZ has now become more of giving back with the satisfaction of seeing the impact in the life's of women and their families and youths. 

My wish is that every woman gives WIMBIZ a try and makes up their mind from an insiders perspective. You will be pleasantly surprised. 15 years of building and growth has gone into WIMBIZ and it is stronger and better than ever. I look forward to welcoming the new entrants and collaborating with those of us already part of WIMBIZ. It's been a colorful journey so far and I'm looking forward to the adventures to come. 

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Christine Lagarde: Women need “skin as thick as an old crocodile” to get to the top

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde offered a hopeful lesson in how to overcome being the only woman in the room, especially in the high-powered male-dominated world of finance and economics, at the Women in the World New York Summit on Thursday

Interviewed by historian Niall Ferguson, the former French finance minister and top global corporate law executive admitted, as she looked laughingly at a telling photo of herself surrounded by the nearly all-male IMF board, that women still needed “skin as thick as an old crocodile” to get to the top in what is too often a macho world. “I regret to say that the crocodile skin is unfortunately a sine qua non for a period of time,” Lagarde said when asked about what Ferguson termed the current “nasty macho streak in politics” where men were making the most of their masculinity in sometimes embarrassing way.

“But then I very much hope that we can take off the crocodile skin and be normal human beings without having to shield against horrible attacks, below the belt punches and all this crappy stuff, frankly, that abounds at the moment.

“I believe that diversity and what we represent as human beings should have a seat on a photo like that and at all tables.

“Because if not all views and all sensitivities and what we believe in and the values we have are not represented properly and are not there — we’re just missing half the skills, the talent, the views, the humanity that we see badly need at the moment. So I hope this photo changes.”

(Courtesy Christine Lagarde)
Christine Lagarde and the mostly male IMF board. (Courtesy Christine Lagarde)
In a broad discussion with Ferguson ranging from international finance and economics to terrorism, and the refugee crisis — “a humanitarian issue first and foremost but its magnitude gives it an economic dimension” — Lagarde confessed she was concerned about the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union, or ‘Brexit’. “The risk of Brexit is a worry — because it’s uncertainty, it’s apprehension. The outcome of any new regime is totally unknown, and it’s a worry.

“London is a big financial city, has huge links around Europe and the world, and [Brexit] is one of the risks that we have on the horizon.”

Commenting on the Dutch no vote in the latest EU referendum that has given succor to Brexit campaigners profiting from rising Euroscepticism, Lagarde, a committed Europeanist, said: “I was not encouraged by the vote that took place this morning in the Netherlands!”

An interconnected world “completely without borders” was a key theme hammered home by the world’s top banker as she spoke of geopolitical risks that have “big economic consequences” — from terrorism to refugees, pandemics and conflicts.
Because these phenomena all “ignored borders,” Lagarde said “we simply cannot choose that road which would seem comfortable of retiring behind our borders. We have to face that adversity and that potential for opportunity together.
“What happens in one country is going to have ripple effects elsewhere in the world.”

The IMF used to deal with a world where the Federal Reserve and other central banks had impacts in their countries, but the situation had radically changed over the past year, particularly because of changes in China suddenly having repercussions elsewhere in the world. “The level of risk and the level of interconnectedness is ever so strong … at the same time because of fear, because of uncertainty, because of lack of confidence people are tempted to retire behind their borders and to say: let’s just protect our turf, let’s just be behind our borders, let’s do things at home, and never mind the rest of the world. Well the rest of the world is not at your doorstep it’s with us and we are whether we like it or not massively interconnected.”

The refugee question has personal resonance for Lagarde, especially since the moving experience of visiting the Jordanian Zaatari refugee camp to speak with women whose family members had been killed in the Syrian conflict.

One woman in particular who held her hand for a long time, and had lost her husband, sons and many relatives, left a strong impression on Lagarde, who also admitted to crying when she first saw the photo of refugee Aylan Kurdi, the Kurdish toddler who drowned and was washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015. “Sometimes when I have my economists putting [out] all these charts and tables and modernizations and heavy duty economic work I always have this woman in the back of my mind.
“She said to me ‘I want to go home’.

“I asked her what home meant for her …and she said ‘nothing’,” Lagarde recalled. “There’s nothing left right no home no walls?

“She said everything’s been destroyed. So I said ‘why do you want to go home?’ She said ‘because I want to touch my country’s soil I want to feel it. I want to be at home.’ And she said to me ‘I hope you’re going to help me.'”

One of the IMF’s missions, alongside the World Bank and other international institutions was therefore to restore stability and help with the economy. “So that once peace has returned — which unfortunately I cannot do much about [as] this is not the mission of the IMF — which is a pre-condition to any economic revival, then clearly it will be our duty together … to actually help it get back on its feet and realize her dream which is to go home touch the ground of Syria and rebuild what spirit she has.”
Christine Lagarde. (Marc Bryan-Brown/Women in the World)
Christine Lagarde. (Marc Bryan-Brown/Women in the World)

In further remarks on the pressures bearing down on European leaders and societies amid successive waves of refugees, Lagarde went out of her way praise her friend German Chancellor Angela Merkel for taking the decision last year to welcome more than a million people fleeing conflict and economic hardship. “I want to pay tribute to her because I think … she has taken the moral high ground at that time and she was isolated frankly.”

Recounting a dinner meeting she had with Merkel this week, Lagarde argued there could be hidden benefits to taking the humanitarian decision to allow more refugees to settle in countries like Germany.

The German Chancellor explained to her that the tradition of jealous guarding of information dividing the state and federal governments had been largely broken down since the wave of asylum-seekers from Syria, parts of Africa and South Asia began arriving. “Because of the refugee situation suddenly there is a willingness to actually share information and reconcile databases,” Lagarde said. “And the second benefit is a more united European approach to asylum seekers.”

You can watch the entire interview with Christine Lagarde here.

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WIMBIZ supports the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill!

WIMBIZ supports the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill and is dismayed by its failure to pass at the Senate last Tuesday, 15th March, 2016.

Over the past 15 years, WIMBIZ has worked to inspire and empower women through various programs including advocacy efforts to ensure equal representation of women at all levels in the private and public sectors as well as promoting and actively supporting laws and bills that eliminate violence, discrimination and ensure the protection of women.

Promoting the rights of women is promoting the progress of the future generation of Nigerians. Who does not have a mother, sister, daughter? Studies have shown that women make significant contributions economically, socially and culturally and clearly no nation can thrive with more than half of its human capacity left behind. Thus we would like to categorically state our support for the Gender & Equal Opportunities Bill and reiterate that protecting the rights of women is critical to the long term viability of our nation and to ensure global competitiveness. These Rights include but are not limited to:

  • Eliminating all forms of discrimination in private, public and political life on the grounds of gender, age, marital status, socio economic status or disability

  • Ensuring parity in educational enrollment and in the award of bursaries for girls and boys

  • Ensuring fair, humane treatment of widows and protecting their rights to custody of their children, and equitable share of inheritance

  • Protecting women, the elderly and those with disabilities from violence and discrimination

WIMBIZ supports the passage of this bill and urges all women to be vigilant so that this bill is passed. We are encouraged by the Senate President's assurance that the bill will be reintroduced and read again. We urge that all relevant stakeholders including women’s groups such as WIMBIZ be engaged through the redrafting process. All necessary reviews including alignment with existing laws and all other relevant considerations must also be conducted to ensure the bill is successfully passed when it is re-presented.

Let us all, as Nigerians, men and women, ensure the passage of this bill, to guarantee the future of Nigeria and the future of our children - male and female. Passing the bill represents Change! Change includes Women! Let us all support the elimination of all forms of Gender discrimination.

WIMBIZ supports the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill!

WIMBIZ supports the elimination of all forms of Gender Discrimination!

Nigerians, we count on your support!

WIMBIZ ....Inspiring & Empowering women since 2001

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