Paga: Challenging the Norms; Creating a New Future of Female Leaders.

Gender plays a significant role in defining leadership roles and determining the quality of services in organizations. Gender refers to social traits of men and women that range from norms and relationships to roles which studies have revealed to affect people’s perceptions. Leadership, on the other hand, refers to practical skills incorporating the ability of an individual to guide others towards attaining a common objective. These structures, relations, and social roles influence people’s activities and approaches to handle challenges. Essentially, leadership decisions and gender have a significant connection that have been evaluated to facilitate smooth operations in an organization.

The global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has created significant challenges for leaders at all levels in industries across the world. The events of 2020 have turned workplaces and work patterns upside down creating a “new normal”. A key factor that has emerged is that during a pandemic, resources for and access to services are often disrupted and unfortunately, because of the way of the world pre-pandemic, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that there is a gender vulnerability, with women bearing the impact in disproportionately higher numbers.

At Paga, we believe leadership is a journey that never stops — and the organizations that can evolve, adapt, and turn challenges into opportunities will be the ones who thrive in the world that comes next. We are convinced that attracting and developing female talent and having more gender-balanced teams will help us become more successful as a company. For Paga’s Founder/Group CEO Tayo Oviosu, “women are increasingly representing the bulk our clients — with over 30% of our Agents being women — in this changing world and as we continuously build our company, we have deemed it important that women are at the core of our organization — bringing diverse ideas and new thinking to our industry.”

We are building a work environment where both men and women can thrive. We believe we have a responsibility to treat each other with dignity, decency, and respect, which means appreciating diversity. For us, our differences bring to light different perspectives of the world, which enhance the Paga perspective of the world and enable us to be the best we can be. Thus, we value and promote a workplace that is inclusive and fair, and which fosters respect for all our fellow employees, customers, and business partners.

We aimed at achieving 30% minimum of each gender at all management levels and as at today, we have achieved 50% of our leadership team being women. This target reflects our vision and commitment to better reflect the existing global talent pools capitalize on the increasing role of women among our customers, suppliers and within the communities where we operate.

Increased diversity and gender-balanced leadership is an essential requirement in key committees and in multilateral organizations in; especially now as relates to developing pandemic preparedness and responses. Intentionally cultivating and amplifying female leadership is paramount to creating effective leadership models and gender inclusive responses to improve outcomes for businesses.

To move forward, we must know our starting point. The conscious decision to have women hold 50% of all management and professional-level jobs-role in Paga has in huge part yielded results in the key areas where they hold office. The upshot was that while women currently represent less than a third (29%) of all leadership roles — in many organizations — we at Paga have reported increase in creation of new solutions and opportunities, with many team members 1.5 times more likely to work across an organization’s silos and exhibit a growth culture.

With our Arike Okunowo, Folakemi Falodun, Tinuke Ayanbadejo, Leila Abu, Patience Gold, Fade Ayorinde and Antoinette Edodo, Paga is committed to setting the pace in ensuring there are women in leadership positions actively contributing in key areas of the business — from human capital management to sales and finance — and being developed for future roles while building a case for the creation of a pipeline that ensures we are building and supporting a workplace that offers more diverse development opportunities, executive visibility and sponsorship.

The truth is that in many spaces, women face challenges, stubborn stereotypes and stigmas that are roadblocks to their advancement. At Paga, understanding these dynamics was the first step toward creating a more equal and productive workplace. Below are a few things the business has kept in mind in creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

We Celebrate Successes.

Women tend to be less comfortable with self-promotion and with this in mind and deploying technology support — using OfficeVibe — we encourage calling out the good work done by these women — and other team members — around them, recognizing colleagues during team meetings, highlighting their impact to leadership, and even recognizing them on platforms when the opportunities arise. When someone does good work, they should be appreciated and celebrated for it.

Pulling women into leading more projects.

Research has shown that celebrating women’s successes (and, in fact, giving them an opportunity to accomplish more) is to have more of them on larger projects. As we all know, those projects are the ones that regularly lead to promotions and recognition from management.

At Paga, it is not just being included in “hot” projects that matter — think about the specific roles women are assigned to. Our experience over the years has shown that without the opportunity to do different things, many women might not have the chance as men to discover what they excel at, find what they love to do or demonstrate their leadership potential. Not utilizing women’s entire skill sets not only impairs their professional development but could also be an inefficient use of a business’s resources. Our women are also encouraged to help themselves in this area to seek for more opportunities, to stretch your own capabilities and swim outside your lane. Fortune favors the brave.

Overall, if the data shows there is room for growth, you should take intentional steps to improve the situation. As an organization, there are questions we keep asking ourselves: are there more changes we can make to our management development programs that will lift more people up? Can we do more to actively ensure the talent pipeline is diverse? Are we creating a welcome and inclusive environment for our teams?

An undeniable fact remains that the achievements and efforts of women in the past have united them on a common goal: to pave the way for future women, talented and committed to perform in the profession and enjoy their families. They all share the same satisfaction: the conviction that their courage continues to open doors for future women to keep filling positions that were traditionally filled with men. At Paga we promote female development in every business unit and department, with the active participation of both female and male leaders, because we are convinced that the only way to succeed in breaking paradigms is with everyone’s engagement.

So, this International Women’s Day, we say, every woman must advocate for herself, challenge the barriers and social constructs set up to limit her, seek out new opportunities to grow and take a chance in her career and personal growth. Together we can continue the progress of the women who came before us and set the stage for an equal and inclusive future.

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Paga is Nigeria’s leading mobile money company. We are enabling people to digitally send and receive money, and creating simple financial access for everyone.