At WorkExpert Piece

Cowrywise’s Commitment to Gender Equality: Ensuring Women Have a Seat at the Table

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At Cowrywise, one of our favourite days of the year is March 8th—a day dedicated to women across the world.

International Women’s Day is celebrated to highlight and appreciate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. In 2021, we launched the Design Fund for Women campaign, launching the career of over 600 women in Design, with over 6,000 female participants in total. We figured out that the probability of finding a female designer in a Nigerian firm is 20% and we set out to contribute our quota towards bridging this gap.

Last year, we chose to bring the appreciation in-house by providing Period Care packages to each female staff. As we mentioned on Twitter, “This isn’t just because they have been a wonderful addition to the team, but because we understand the struggles of women and choose to celebrate them for coming through in the tech industry, despite the challenges.”

This year, we’ve achieved a major milestone and we’re excited to share it. Happy reading!

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, it is important to reflect on the progress we have made as a company towards gender equality in the technology space, as well as the work that remains to be done. One area where we have seen significant progress is in closing the gender gap in our work environment, especially within the senior management. 

Why is closing the gender gap in senior management important?

Senior management positions are widely considered to be the most influential roles in any organization. In her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, the former Chief Operating Officer at Meta, emphasizes the significance of having women in leadership roles. She said, “Women bring a unique perspective to the table. The inclusion of diverse perspectives leads to better decision-making, more innovation, and better business results.”

However, women have been underrepresented in these positions for a long time. This lack of representation not only undermines the potential of talented women but also limits the diversity of perspectives and experiences that shape organizational decision-making. At Cowrywise, we believe that gender diversity is not only morally right but it is also a critical motivation behind a better business performance.

Closing the gender gap in senior management sends a powerful message that women are valued for their leadership, expertise, and contributions. It also creates a more inclusive and supportive environment for women to advance their careers, take on leadership roles, and become role models for future generations. In her book, Women and Leadership, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard writes, “If we can change the ratio of men to women in leadership roles, we will change the culture of organizations and the society they serve.”

Diversity and business success

Research has shown that companies with more diverse leadership teams are more innovative, resilient, and financially successful. A 2018 study by Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue-driven innovation. 

Source: BCG Diversity and Innovation Survey, 2017 (n-1,681).

Could we easily attribute this to how we consistently unlock innovative products tailored to the lifestyle and financial journey of Nigerians?  

We recognise that achieving gender equality in senior management is not only the right thing to do but also makes good business sense. As Ebenezer Akintomide, HR Manager at Cowrywise states, “Closing the gender gap is not just a social responsibility. It’s a business imperative.”

“With 46% of our management team being female, we recognise the valuable contribution of our female colleagues to our business. Closing the gender gap is beyond social responsibility, it makes business sense.”

Ebenezer Akintomide, HR Manager at Cowrywise

By focusing on closing the gender gap in senior management, we are not only creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace but also positioning ourselves as a leader in the financial technology industry. 

The exceptional state of gender equality at Cowrywise

According to a 2022 Catalyst report, the proportion of women in senior management roles globally stands at 31%, which is the highest number ever recorded, while Business Insider Africa reports 20% in Nigeria. However, at Cowrywise, 46% of senior management roles are held by women. These teams include Portfolio Management, Legal, Compliance, Finance, Product, and Customer Experience—all of which are major teams at Cowrywise.

This is a significant achievement in a country where women remain significantly underrepresented in leadership roles. By surpassing both the national and global proportion, Cowrywise is setting an example for other companies to follow in promoting gender equality in the workplace. In addition to having 46% of senior management roles held by women, it’s worth noting that Cowrywise as a whole has around 40% representation of women in the company.

This means that not only is the senior management team promoting gender equality, but the entire company is working towards more inclusive representation. Amazing!

Meritocracy in Hiring and Promotion—A Major Factor in Gender Equality at Cowrywise

“Do you have the skill?” “Can you show your results?” “Are you passionate about our solutions at Cowrywise?” — These are the questions that matter to us when hiring and promotion are concerned.

Our focus on a merit-based system is a key factor contributing to the company’s success in achieving gender equality, especially in senior management. We are committed to hiring the best candidate for each position, regardless of gender, and promoting based on performance and merit. To achieve this goal, we have implemented a rigorous and transparent recruitment process that evaluates candidates based on their skills, experience, and potential.

Once hired, employees at Cowrywise are evaluated based on their performance and potential for growth, rather than their gender. We have a culture of continuous learning and development, providing opportunities for employees to enhance their skills and advance their careers. By prioritizing skills and performance over gender, we are able to attract and retain talented women who might otherwise face barriers in the workplace.

Career pivoting

It is also important to add that some of these women have grown within the company into leadership roles, even outside the original career path they were hired for. Yarmirama Ashama, for example, was hired to join the Customer Experience team but she now functions in a senior role in the Product Management team at Cowrywise. 

“One of the things I love about working at Cowrywise is the mutual respect and the genuine care that exists. I don’t feel like I’m treated any differently because of my gender. When it’s time to work, everyone recognises the value the next person brings to the table, regardless of their gender.

And outside of work, people also make time to show interest in your life, and to help and support you when and where you need it. I work with really beautiful and amazing people, it feels like I hit jackpot on most days”

— Yarmirama Ashama, Senior Product Manager, Cowrywise

These initiatives demonstrate Cowrywise’s commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive workplace for all employees, including women.

Why should brands promote gender equality in senior management roles?

The importance of gender balance in senior management cannot be overstated; It poses as both a matter of social justice and equal opportunity and also provides significant benefits to the organization. We have listed a few of the benefits that come with having gender equality in senior management roles.

1. Increased innovation and competitiveness

A study by McKinsey reports that “Our 2019 analysis finds that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile—up from 21 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2014.” This cannot be far from the truth as it is an obvious truth that having gender balance in senior management positions brings diverse perspectives, experiences, and ideas that can lead to innovation and competitiveness. We’ve had a first-hand experience of this.

2. Positive impact on company culture and reputation

Having a diverse and inclusive senior management team definitely has a positive impact on our company culture and reputation. Companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion are more likely to be seen as ethical and socially responsible, leading to a positive reputation among consumers and investors.

Cowrywise’s commitment to gender equality in senior management has helped to create a culture of inclusion and mutual respect. The company’s initiatives to support women in the workplace have helped to foster a positive and supportive work environment, leading to a strong reputation among employees, customers, investors and the general populace.

3. Increased talent attraction, engagement and retention

When employees see that their company values diversity and promotes equality, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work. They feel that they are part of an organization that respects their differences and is committed to providing equal opportunities for everyone. This can lead to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and retention. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to be committed to the company and stay for the long term. 

In addition, companies that promote gender diversity in senior management roles are better positioned to attract top talent. Today’s workforce is increasingly diverse, and job seekers are looking for employers who value and respect their differences. By promoting gender diversity, companies can send a message that they are committed to creating an inclusive and equitable workplace, which will attract a more diverse pool of candidates and increase their chances of hiring the best talent.

How to promote gender equality in senior management for forward-thinking companies

1. Implement policies and initiatives to support women in the workplace

Companies must actively implement policies and initiatives that support women in the workplace. This includes measures such as providing flexible working arrangements, parental leave, and equal pay for equal work. At Cowrywise, we have implemented various policies and initiatives to support women in the workplace, including flexible working arrangements, parental leave, and equal pay for equal work. We also provide menstrual care boxes in the office to ensure that women have access to basic healthcare necessities while at work.

These measures not only support our female employees but also contribute to creating a positive company culture that enables men to recognise and respect women in the workplace.

2. Create opportunities for women to gain experience and develop skills

This is crucial for achieving gender equality in the workplace. Provide or sponsor mentoring programs, leadership training, and opportunities for job shadowing and cross-functional work. By creating opportunities for both men and women to gain experience and develop skills, companies can build a pipeline of qualified female candidates for senior management positions, solely based on merit.

3. Build networks and communities to support and empower women

Building networks and communities to support and empower women is also essential for achieving gender equality in senior management. These networks and communities provide support, mentorship, and career development opportunities for women, which can help them overcome the barriers to advancement they may face in male-dominated industries.

Overall, achieving gender equality in senior management requires a multifaceted approach that includes implementing policies and initiatives to support women in the workplace, creating opportunities for women to gain experience and develop skills, encouraging more women to pursue careers in traditionally male-dominated fields, and building networks and communities to support and empower women. 

At Cowrywise, we have explored some of these steps and we will keep exploring a lot more to ensure that we stay at the forefront of forward-thinking tech companies promoting gender equality in the workplace, especially by giving more women a seat at the management table. For us, it’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a cause we will stay committed to.

Happy International Women’s Day! 🎉


Financial Inclusion in Nigeria


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