Given the challenges women face in the workplace and their attempt to break away from societal stereotypes, Africa’s largest retail bank, Access Bank Plc., held a virtual fireside chat recently. The chat analyzed the issues women face and proffered solutions to help them own their voices, fight impostor syndrome and maintain assertiveness in a non-inclusive workplace.
The fireside chat was themed “Take the Centre Stage: Speak Up!” and featured keynote speakers Dr Dere Awosika – Chairman, Access Bank Plc.; Aishah Ahmad – Deputy Governor, CBN; Ayona Trimnell, Group Head, W Initiative at Access Bank; as well as an interesting line-up of panelists including; Marketing and Innovation Director, Guinness Nigeria – Adenike Adebola, Director of Governance and Sustainability, Sahara Group Limited – Pearl Uzokwe, amongst other remarkable women.
Dr Herbert Wigwe, the Group Managing Director and CEO, Access Bank PLC, gave the welcome address for the event while the keynote speech was given by Aishah Ahmad. Ahmad discussed the challenges women have faced and are still facing, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic – highlighting issues ranging from unemployment to domestic violence. Speaking on the notion that women have to work twice as hard as a men to stay ahead in the workplace, Aisha disagreed and said, “I don’t think women have to work twice as hard, I think they are working hard enough, what they need to do is to network more.”
Emphasizing the need for women to own their voice in the workplace, Ahmad encouraged women to speak up, saying, “I always tell people ‘don’t be a chair!” If you can’t think of what to say, you can amplify what someone else has said”.
Dr Dere Awosika in her address on impostor syndrome shared some interesting insights which highlighted the various ways women can overcome self-doubt. Dr Awosika said, “As women, we must understand and realize that we live in a world that recognizes confidence, so be confident. A woman must wear her confidence and not throw a pity party for herself. We must change that long-standing narrative that women must be pious and stop fostering narratives that promote imposter syndrome in women. Identify allies – mentors, advocates, friends, who are supportive of your talents and professionalism and work with them.”
Another topical area of discourse during the highly engaging event was the importance of flexible work environments that encourage the engagement and retention of women in the workplace as well as leverage intersectionality in the workplace.
Over the years, Access Bank, through its W Community initiative has been supporting women, promoting safe spaces for conversations that improve women’s lives and chart a course for progressive societal change.