The 2020 edition of the prestigious Women in Marketing and Communications Conference/Awards, WIMCA, the first virtual special edition and the fourth edition which held November 13, 2020 via the Hibrid/Zoom platform has set the agenda for female marketing professionals in Nigeria in the quest to advancing their careers.
The special edition which held virtual online and at a physical ‘Hibrid’ location had various experts and leaders in the Nigerian marketing Communication Industry as participants and resource persons who dissected the theme for the occasion which is “Generation equality; imperatives of gender inclusion for the growth of brands and marketing communications.”
Convener of WIMCA 2020, Joshua Ajayi while welcoming physical and virtual participants to the event had explained that the theme of the International Women’s Day (IWD) Celebration commemorated every March has always informed the theme of WIMCA, and this year was no different.
Further explaining the rationale for the event, Ajayi revealed that this year’s WIMCA topic is exploring how women can navigate through the tough terrain to shatter the glass ceilings to attain their potential professionally, especially in the IMC industry. “As usual, women continue to encounter challenges when it comes to advancing in the workplace—and in many facets of the society. Some of these challenges include Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs), the issue of equal renumeration or equal pay, bias which is an issue women continue to deal with at the place of work, and advocacy, among others.
Victor Afolabi, Group Managing Director of GDM Group was the keynote speaker of the conference and he spoke on the general theme where he admonished brand custodians and marketers to always ensure that women are always made the fore focus of marketing strategies as they are economically empowered to make purchase decisions.
He noted, “according to research, globally, women control over US$20 trillion of the total consumer spend as they wield an influence of over 80% in buying decisions. They spend more time than men daily making economic decisions for their families — from consumer goods to services. These women hold crucial purchasing power. In fact, 50% of products marketed to men are purchased by women.”
The event also featured two highly interactive panel discussions which had some of the best minds in the industry as panelists. The first which is geared towards providing a mentorship platform for young and prospective professionals as well as igniting the potential in women towards attaining enviable heights in marketing and management is titled “Leveraging Data Science for Effective Engagement of Female Consumers.” The session had the event keynote speaker joined by Ifeoma Dozie, Director of Marketing and Communications, SSA, Mastercard (virtual presence) and Dr.Tola Elatuyi, the Executive Director of Marketing, Hs Media Group. Bukola Akingbade who is the Founder/CEO, Kucheza Gaming was sensational in her role as the session moderator.
In her contribution, Dr. Elatuyi explained the relationship between data analytics and data science in relations to marketing. “Data analytics, helps marketers in understanding what happened in the past. It helps you understand the ‘why, what, when, where and how’ of consumers actions in the past. With this information, you are better informed and know where the gaps are and of course where the opportunities are. Data science on the other hand is predictive data. Meaning it is a kind of data that tells you if a customer bought this item, they are likely to purchase this other item. With data science which is predictive, marketers are able to think of product management and innovation. It shapes the way the brand thinks, the way we are communicating and the way we are packaging products even to the way we put our products on the shelves,” she explained.
Responding to the Moderator’s question on the place of digital in marketing to women and how Mastercard is engaging the female consumers in this digital age, Ifeoma Dozie decried the dearth of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics especially cyber security and artificial intelligence. According to her, the last two are the hottest tech fields today, but unfortunately, women make up less than 20% of the professionals in this field today. She further noted, only 1 in 20 girls opt to take a STEM based career.
She however added, “MasterCard is cultivating young tech enthusiasts as parts of our signature platform called Girls for Tech. This is a fun and engaging curriculum built around global science and mathematics. And we have made a commitment to reach 1 million girls globally by 2025 with this programme.
“Our second step is at the product stage, by creating the right solution. We asked ourselves, “are our products and services meeting the actual needs of women? Do we have insights that can help us incorporate women’s experiences into the design and innovation process? As a payment technology leader with global insights, we have invested significantly in understanding women’s financial priorities, and mapping out these priorities across different stages. So, we are committed to designing and developing a world with both women and men in mind. Because creating a better world for women creates a limitless opportunities and possibilities for us all,” she added.
The second session was themed “Each for Equal: Navigating Through Tough Terrains.” It had Ayodele Otujinrin, Head of Marketing, West Africa, Godrej Consumer Products Limited; Amaechi Okobi, Group Head, Corporate Communications, Access Bank; Nkiru Olumide-Ojo, Author/ Founder, Lighthouse Women’s Network and Ilyas Kazeem, Marketing Director, Eat ‘N’ Go Limited (last two participated virtually) as discussants. The session was moderated by Pheobe Dami-Asolo, Customer Marketing & Commercial Manager, The Coca-Cola Company.
In her contribution, Ayodele explained that beyond the workplace, there are internal factors from the family as well as the society that make it hard for women to go far professionally. She explained that Based on upbringing, women are expected to be noticed and not heard. Women have been programmed by the society to be demurred, domesticated to fit into the role of the housewife.
She advised that for women to advance in their careers, they need to be more aspirational beyond the need to get married and raise a family. “We need to rise up to battle out our challenges. Women need to be more aspirational. Personally, my upbringing was different as a daughter of a single mother. Like Kamala Harris who says she eats ‘No’ for breakfast, I have had to find my way competing with every other person on an equal pedestal.” She further advised women to better themselves by going for trainings among other things.
Amaechi in his summation explained that Access Bank is an equal opportunity employer where men and women are judged by their performance rather than by gender. “At Access Bank, we don’t think of men and women in the traditional sense. Access Bank is a bank where we are driven purely by performance. So, as long as you are performing, you will rise. Equal pay is a norm at Access Bank as males and females occupying similar positions earn the same thing. Also importantly, we have the Access Women Network at Access Bank. What this does is that it gives women an opportunity to be mentored, supported and essentially encouraged.
Advising other brands and organisations on building workplaces and culture that women can better thrive in, he advised. “For other industries and organisations to step up the game, you have to be concerted in your effort. You can’t just wish it; you have to put policies and initiatives in place to drive this. Its key that even when these things are in place, they are followed, they are tracked and there is accountability.
However, he added, “The end goal should be, there would be a time when there will be no women’s day, or an award for the first woman to do something. It shouldn’t have been a big deal that Kamala Harris is the first female Vice President of the US or that we have first women to do exceptional things in the banking industry. These women are just exceptional in what they do and it should not be a big deal. Until we get it in our heads that these are just human beings trying to drive excellence, we are just getting there.
For Nkiru Olumide-Ojo, a woman’s work is not done until she has pulled up lots of seats for other women to also seat with her on the table. “I am irritated at the fact that women are always being the ‘first of it’ and very few of them are pulling the seats for other women.” She advised that to pull the seat for others, women should be respecter of other women. They should encourage other women to see their potential, help them self-correct and provide mentorship and sponsorship. She explained that sponsorship is advocacy and advocacy is getting people to change policies to ensure there is equity in terms of equal pay, positions, etc.
Ilyas noted that it is important for women to know that they should not expect to grow in their career just because of their gender. He however, advised organizations to ensure there is enough capacity development in terms of functional equities. “Being in that role, you need to be an expert. Everybody should know that irrespective of gender, you know what you are doing. You know the numbers, you know the history, place of ideas, etc. Personal growth, among others. That gives you authority to hold your position.”
Just after the thought leadership sessions, organisers of WIMCA recognized and rewarded outstanding women who have contributed to the growth of the IMC industry as well as corporate organizations who have contributed to the growth of women in the country at large.