We live in a male dominated society and, while many of us believe in equality, we have an unconscious bias towards homogeneity. This is a tremendous barrier to diversity, however. Women like Esther Nenadi Usman, however, a former finance minister from Southern Kaduna in Nigeria, is tackling this issue head on. She is providing the strong leadership that is an absolute requirement for change. As an economic and financial minister for a state that is driving the global economy, Nenadi Esther Usman has brought about significant change the world over. “Change”, according to Usman, is precisely what is needed in business, in politics, in education, and in life. And this is true not just in Kaduna, Nigeria, but all over the world.
There are many reasons why gender equality should be increased, and particularly in leadership. Research has shown that women in leadership, like Nenadi, have higher soft skills than men, which has made their leadership far more effective. Research has shown that women like Esther are better at motivating others, and better at taking initiatives. Furthermore, when rated by companions, bosses, and colleagues, women like Nenadi score higher in overall effectiveness of leadership.
Studies like this show two key things. Firstly, it shows that women like Esther Usman are incredibly good at what they do. Secondly, however, it shows that the gender bias is still firmly in place. Women have to work much harder to achieve positions of leadership. If a man and a woman with the same educational background are put side by side, it is a known fact that the man is more likely to obtain a higher position. This provides a lack of security for women and that is a significant barrier. Nenadi Esther, for instance, was bypassed for her role several times before she became Senator Nenadi Esther.
However, Esther Usman believes that a change is going to come. More and more often, businesses are making commitments to increasing the representation of women in positions of leadership. They have agreed to become more accountable and to assess the results they create. HR departments now focus on ensuring women have equal opportunities, and entire industries are following. Businesses also significantly increase their reputation if they show they are committed to diversity.
Women carry half the world. They are potential customers, major consumers, and strong decision-making, particularly in terms of financial spending decisions in the home. In retail, this is particularly true. This is being recognized, which can be seen clearly in the increase of women-owned businesses all over the world. Gender inequality is being aligned, and gender diversity is improving. However, more clearly needs to be done. Businesses and governments alike need to understand that their productivity, ability to retain talent, and consumer satisfaction will be greatly increased if they have a better representation of women. More does need to be done, but women like Nenadi are paving the way and making the world a better place for women, empowering them to become the best they can be.