By Azeez Disu
The press for progress is eminent for any individual, for the female folk, the need to succeed is eminent than ever. Yet, statistics have shown that few female professionals globally have been able to rise to key positions of leadership.
It is a known fact that today, women constitute the largest customers of brands. Industry analysts also revealed that women drive 70 to 80% of all consumer purchases. Interestingly, the age-old business mantra, “Customer is king,” is now changing to “Customers are Kings and Queens” as more brands struggle to capture women’s attention, this, they know will change their organisations’ fortune considering that women constitute about 49.6% of the global population and also possess an influencer and buying power.
Despite glass ceiling the world over, some women are still making it to the top of their careers, becoming Amazons in men dominated industries.
Charting A New Course
In the words of Tian Wei, TV host, World Insight with Tian Wei”, CGTN “Any society that fails to harness the energy and creativity of its women is at a huge disadvantage in the modern world”
However, gender parity has been a subject of discussion at many forums but , however, data continue to show that few women make it to the top in the corporate world. On the global scene, the share of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 dropped by 25% in 2018. After reaching an all-time high of 32 in 2017, the number of female Fortune 500 chiefs slid back down to 24. The drop is due primarily to a number of powerful women leaving their corner offices. In the past year alone, more than a third of those women (12) have left their CEO jobs, including a few long-time veterans of the ranking.
With glass ceiling and several data showing that only a few women are able to make it to the boardroom in Nigeria and globally, stakeholders at W omen In Marketing and Communications Conference and Award (WIMCA) 2018, the largest gathering of female professionals in marketing and communications industry, have urged female marketing and communications professionals to be deliberate in pressing for progress to the highest position of leadership in their careers.
They made the assertion at the second edition of the event held at Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos, on August 31st, 2018. The event is an initiative of frontline brands and marketing publication, Brand Communicator Magazine.
The theme of the event was “Women in Marketing Communications: The Press for Progress”, in line with the theme of the International Women Day celebration “Press for Progress” commemorated in March 2018.
The essence of this gathering according to the organisers of the conference and awards is to urgently proffer lasting solutions to challenges confronting female professionals in the marketing communications industry in the interest of all.
“In our industry too, for instance, only three out of the top advertising agencies in Nigeria have women at the helms of affairs. The ten major Media Independent agencies, on the other hand, do not have any woman at the helm. Other subsectors of the industry cutting across both agency and clients’ divide also have very few active women at the helms.
“This obvious lacuna of women in key positions among other challenges gave birth to WIMCA four years ago. WIMCA was therefore designed to identify the current trends in marketing communications while addressing the career challenges of female marketing executives” Joshua Ajayi, Convener of the event and Publisher of Brand Communicator disclosed.
Men Say The Glass Ceiling Is Just A Mindset
“I never thought I was breaking a glass ceiling. I just had to do what I had to do, and it never occurred to me not to.” Marian Wright Edelman, an American activist for the rights of children, once said.
Glass Ceiling is defined by Encarta Dictionary as an unofficial but real impediment to somebody’s advancement into upper-level management positions because of discrimination based on the person’s gender, age, race, ethnicity, or sex.
While Glass Ceiling is seen as a global phenomenon, some men at WIMCA said women’s thought about Glass Ceiling is just a mindset and can be overcome when female professionals change their perception and have a mindset to achieve whatever they set out to achieve.
Ayo Oluwatosin, Group Managing Director, Rosabel and Chairman of the occasion, pointed that “the glass ceiling is real but more and more women are breaking through the glass and are making remarkable statements in their various field of human endeavours and Nigeria is not an exception”
He adds, “the glass ceiling is just the thing of the mind and as long as you and I can fight the battle of the mind, then nothing is impossible”
Can The bridge Be Linked in IMC?
Undoubtedly, the integrated marketing communications industry (IMC) in Nigeria has few women at the helm of affairs. Industry analyst revealed that only 4 out of the top 20 Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) member agencies have women at the helm. Other sub-sectors of the industry cutting across both agency and clients’ side have very few women at the helm.
However, Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) and Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) boost of women as heads with Folake Ani-Mumuney and IJedi Iyoha (acting Registrar) respectively, and industry watchers are advocating that more women be given the chance to lead other associations and regulatory bodies in the nearest future.
While speaking at the event, the President of Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria (EXMAN), Kehinde Salami, said the association is giving more women the opportunity to be members of the executives and committees and he is hopeful that in the nearest future a woman would emerge president.
Chuka Eborah, Council member, National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN) and representative of Tony Agenmonmen, President of the institute also reiterated that the institute is encouraging more women to be part of the body and he is optimistic that someday they will be part of the decision makers.
Similarly, Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, President, African Public Relations Association (APRA) and Group Chief Executive officer, CMC Connect urged more women to venture into public relations practice because the professional requires more of the gender to thrive.
Never the less, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Lagos Chapter led by Olusegun McMedal has been an advocate of women empowerment and gender equality with its Strong Tender Empowered Women’s (STEW) summit.
Engaging Female Consumers In The Digital Age
Female consumers are changing and to capture the attention of women, brands need to chunk out engaging contents, promos and marketing activities both online and offline. Iquo Ukoh, Managing Director, Entod Marketing and one of the keynote Speakers in the session tagged “Engaging Female Consumers in the Digital Age” at WIMCA said, “Consumers are no longer just king, that are equally Queens while the digital space offer brands the opportunity to reach their target market. ”
She urged marketers to understand the digital space and provide tailored made messages to the specific audience on a social media platform because the right engagement will lead to Return on Investment (RoI) and not the numbers of likes on the social media pages.
Ukoh pointed that for brands and entrepreneurs targeting women their attention should focus on owning a good share of her (consumer) wallet, make deposits in her emotional account, sustain her loyalty and offer value to her.
She explained further that technological disruption is already here and more will be invented in the nearest future but how best it is used by women will define how best the gender will rise to the top.
Similarly, Steve Babaeko, CEO/Chief Creative Officer, X3M and one of the panelists said, “The new media today, is going to be the old media in another two years, but one thing that will remain with us is storytelling and sharing of that human experience, if we understand that as marketers we are going to be fine”
Nsima Ogedi-Alakwe, Marketing Director, Unilever Nigeria PLC on her own part called for proper consumer understanding before embarking on a digital campaign. “You cannot engage a consumer that you do not know.” She said that there should be a conscious effort to know the consumer adequately well.
Cherry Eromosele, Group Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Interswitch disclosed that consumers’ trust especially women of e-commerce and online platforms is growing, adding that the growing trend opens up a lot of opportunities for brands and their businesses considering that women constitute the large churn of consumers .
She added that brands’ engagement activities should be strategic in order to increase sales.
“E-commerce is also growing; today you see a lot of transaction happening on Instagram. A lot of people do not go to shops now, particularly the corporate women; they do most of their buying online. For instance, am an example of that, I do some of my shopping online, in the past I liked to physically see the items and I then purchase, but now sometimes, I go to Instagram or website of an e-commerce company and I do my transaction, then I move on. I think over time, people are beginning to trust the use of social media and websites for their transaction and payment”
In the same vein, Funmilayo Falola, Head, Brand and Marketing Communications, Wema Bank urged brands to build a women community and build their brands on trust.
Pressing For Progress To The Boardroom
Women are often described as multitasking, bold, beautiful and diligent yet, only a few of them make it to the boardroom.
The Second session of WIMCA 2018 tagged: “Progressing for Progress to the Boardroom” was an eye-opener for many especially when Alex Goma, Managing Director, PZ Cussons and Keynote speaker of the session stepped on stage.
Goma explained that leadership comes with responsibilities and the boardroom is the position of responsibility. To get to that height, he urged women to be deliberate and work diligently to be outstanding no matter where they find themselves. “Women should have a clear deliberate plan to be independent and stop acting like victims.”
He stated that most women do not support each other, rather they antagonize each other. He said for the gender to succeed they have to support themselves.
According to Julia Oku Jacks, Managing Director, TreeWater Limited, women should not wait to be treated special, rather take the bull by the horn, thrive in men dominated industries and rise to the top and at the same time inspire more women to rise to the top of their career.
In line with this, Folake Ani-Mumuney, Chairperson, FBN Insurance Brokers & President, Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) explained that women have to be deliberate in their approach to life and work, part of which is forming a community which supports each and encourages each other to rise to the top through mentorship and other support they outline.
“By organizing a support group for women to educate and enlighten them, women should help women by mentoring and focusing on their behavioural aspect to life”. She disclosed.
She added “Women should be creative and have a vision for their life as a head start. They should have a support structure, by building a wall of determination around themselves. There are a lot women can do instead of thinking about when they will get to the top, they can engage in skills, seminars and mentorship.”
Similarly, Lampe Omoyele, Managing Director, 141 Worldwide who said his organization plans to support women within the group to get to the board, pointed that women would not be given such positions on a platter of gold without having the right skills and competency for it.
How WIMCA Has Bridge The Gap
The event had about 700 female professionals who networked and shared ideas on ways to better the female population despite the fact that they constitute the larger per cent of the country’s population.
WIMCA offered the exchange of new ideas, trends and proffering solutions to issues affecting female professionals. Women who attended the event said they were inspired and would aspire to do greater things and also press to excel in their career path.
“Have never been inspired like this, with the quality of Keynote speakers and panellists, am ready to take on challenges and press for progress to the boardroom,” an enthusiast participant, Okoro Joy stated.
The WIMCA has further shown the need for the female population to be active and dedicated as it also raised the importance of women to organizational growth and the country at large.
In addition, it provided an opportunity for young and prospective female professionals to be mentored by professionals and this will in the nearest future enable more women to attain enviable heights in marketing and management.
How Brands Leveraged On WIMCA To Speak To Women
The pizza and ice cream break session sponsored by Domino’s lightened up the mood of participants at the event. Break/Networking sessions are usually a section for Tea and Snacks but WIMCA changed the scene.
H20h! was the official drink partner of the event and customers who were yet to taste the brand had a great opportunity to feel with the ad message that “H2Oh! Water’s Gonna Be Jealous”. Also, Olympic yoghurt by PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc was also served at the event and consumers were thrilled.
The stands of Molfix, Knorr, Interswitch and Morning Fresh were also points of attraction for most participants who made enquiries, observed the products while some brought.
Other brands which sponsored and supported the event are First Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Wema Bank, Diamond Bank, FBN Quest, First Bank, and LAPO Microfinance Bank.
Aside from the awardees who had awards to take home, t he guests and participants had WIMCA bags filled with exotic branded items from the sponsors to take home. One of the participants, Adebisi Adegoke said, “this is wonderful, I cannot imagine coming to an event for free to learn, network and at the same time carrying all these big branded souvenirs home.”
Interestingly, Media partners like Multichoice Nigeria, TVC, STV, Nigeria Info, 19fifty, alpha & jam, plural media, eleva8media, Digimage Consult, and LASAA helped made the event a huge success during the pre and post media coverage across mass media. Meanwhile, WorldBay Technologies, Cloud 9 Events, Abelinis and IBST gave the event an international look from point of registration, interior design and multimedia effect respectfully.
For Moore Advice, the deployment of its DULU (Do you like Us) technology, a Customer Experience Feedback Solution at the event made it easy for participants to rate the speakers and the whole event on the spot. According to the feedback, the 360 degrees integrated marketing communication company gathered , 99% liked the event and they also loved the event process in terms of location accessibility, event time, venue and coordination.
And Award Winners Are…
According to the organisers of WIMCA, the event was to recognize and encourage excellence and at the same time reward outstanding women in marketing communications industry and corporate organizations from different sectors for their contributions to the growth of the Marketing and communication industry and the country as a whole.
“In recognizing and encouraging excellence, WIMCA further rewards outstanding women and corporate organizations for their contributions to the growth of their various industries and the country at large,”Ajayi stated.
Speaking on how the winners emerged, Ajayi said the selection of the awardees went through a select panel of assessors and the assessors were picked from the various sub-sectors of the industry.
“Unlike the norm where some platforms give out awards based on the ability of the awardee to sponsor or buy tables, we wanted to give a credible award to deserving female professionals who have in no small way contributed to the overall progress of this industry,” he said.
The award winner in the individuals categories are: Nkiru Olumide Ojo as the Female Marketing Professional of the Year (Banking); Rosemary Akpo, Female Marketing Professional of the Year (FMCG); Bunmi Oke, Female Creative Advertising Personality of the Year; Sinmisola Obisesan-Hughes, Female Creative Director of the Year; Nkechi Alli-Balogun, Female Public Relations Personality of the Year; Chizor Malize, Female Branding Personality of the Year.
In addition, Tolulope Medebem won Female Experiential Marketing Professional of the Year; Ada Adheke, Female Media Independent Professional of the year; and Bola Thomas, Life-Time Achievement Awards.
For the corporate organization category are; Felix King Foundation, Female-Centric Foundation of the Year; Access Bank Plc, Female Friendly Bank of the Year (The W Initiative); and Nestle Nigeria Plc, Seasoning Brand of the Year (Maggi).
What Does The Future Hold For Female professionals
“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” ― Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
The above quote emphasises that the future of anybody is in his or her hands. For the Womenfolk, men at WIMCA 2018 have said that glass ceiling is just a mindset and leading women at the event have concluded that females have great potentials and influence yet to explore.
For analysts, $28 trillion of the world’s $35 trillion dollar consumer economy is in the hands of females. Also, the Boston Consulting Group’s Global Inquiry into Women and Consumerism predicts global incomes of women to hit US$18 trillion by 2018.
With all these possibilities, the submissions at WIMCA 2018 align that it is imperative for organisations and brands to engage women more than ever because they hold the key to their growth. In spite of this, women were also urged to be deliberate in pressing for progress by acquiring the necessary skills and be prepared for the future is bright.