African countries are more progressive compared to some of their European counterparts in the inclusion of women in finance.
CEO of 100 Women in Finance Amanda Pullinger says many firms on the continent are making significant strides to include women’s participation in the sector, but more needs to be done.
100 Women in Finance is a global association of professionals, women in the finance industry in 32 locations across five continents.
South Africa is the first of 30 locations for the organisation.
Pullinger was speaking ahead of International Women’s Day being celebrated on Wednesday after her visit from South Africa earlier this month.
100 Women in Fnance established its location in South Africa in June, last year.
It launched at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
Pullinger met various business leaders and challenged them to increase the participation of women in the financial industry.
A PWC report released last year showed 95% of all CEOs and 87% of CFOs in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange were male.
Despite this, Pullinger says African countries have made enormous progress in the inclusion of women in the financial corporate space.
“So, you know, I get to travel the world, our 32 locations are literally across five continents. And I think what’s surprising when people say to me, you know, where are the best places in the world for professionals? In this industry? Where are the worst places? They might be surprised that actually South Africa and Nigeria and Kenya, where we are located on the continent, are actually doing relatively well compared with the likes of places like Germany and Switzerland, where there’s enormous stigma still around highly educated women with families working at war.”
Pullinger says their organisation focuses on how they can change the perception of who can be a CEO or CFO at a corporation.
She believes firms want to create change and many are looking for solutions.
Pullinger elaborates how they use education to help improve perception of the industry.
“So, how do we do that and one the things is that we out on an educational event, so we’ll make sure on our panels, we have women who are expert in the field, this isn’t about talking about being a woman in the industry. It’s talking about what they are expert at, because we believe that if women who are experts in a particular area are visible. The next generation of young women can see that it’s possible for someone like them to be in that role.”
100 women In finance offers free membership to university students – mostly women studying finance.
They also offer a free jumpstart programme for female students.
The programme gives students access in understanding what the industry is about.
“We connect female students with early career women to really understand how do they get a job in this industry. And I know that there’s a lot of focus in South Africa around youth unemployment. We believe that there are opportunities in the world for women to come into this industry to find opportunities internationally through the skill set of whether it’s whether it’s being an analyst in the industry, or on the operational side or in the business development or marketing side. There are amazing opportunities in this industry for the next generation.”
The organisation is also pushing for the inclusion of black women in the sector.
“Know that 40% of CEOs in the financial industry in Nigeria are women, and they are black women. 40% of chairs of boards in Nigeria are women, and they are black women. And so what part of the power of what we can do as an organisation that’s not just in one location, but in many is to demonstrate that it is possible that there are firms that are creating opportunities not just for women, but for women of colour”, adds Pullinger.
International Women’s Day is a global event celebrated annually on March 8.
This years even will be marked under the theme digital innovation and technology for gender equality.