CNBC Africa anchor Esther Awoniyi opened the event by thanking sponsors Aon for facilitating the second ever Dive In Nigeria. She then put the issue of gender diversity in Nigeria into context: a recent survey by International Monetary Fund ranked Nigeria in the bottom 50% in the world for countries that supports gender equality in the workplace, something that be seen clearly in the Nigerian insurance industry.
Esther highlighted the challenges faced by women in insurance, in particular young women at the beginning of their career. She went on to read some powerful letters that had been written by senior female insurance professionals, addressed to their younger selves. The letters drove home the importance of listening to mentors, perseverance, seizing opportunities, setting ambitious goals, and striking the right balance between work and life. You can read more letters written to younger selves here.
Each panellist gave a two-minute introduction on the importance of diversity in the insurance market. Fumni Omo, the first female Managing Director at African Alliance Insurance and now the Managing Director at Enterprise Group, talked benefits to social economic growth and generational empowerment that come from greater gender inclusion.
Dr. Corneille Karekezi, Group MD & CEO of African Re Group, highlighted the importance of D&I on helping us address some of the world’s biggest problems, including climate change, poverty, and racial injustice. Adetola Adegbayi, Executive Director of General Insurance Business Division at Leadway Assurance Company, spoke about the importance of individualism and celebrating difference to achieve greatness.
Nike Anani, Nextgen Mentor and Co-Founder of African Family Firms, highlighted the economic advantage in gender diversity and the role mentoring can play in nurturing female talent. Ibitunde Balogun, from Tangerine Life, drew on the importance diversity of thought to create innovation that meets the needs of tomorrow’s customer.
The panellists then took part in an in-depth discussion covering topics such as support systems, succession planning, and making the industry more attractive to the younger generation. The panellists acknowledged that while progress was being made, not enough was being done to address the lack of gender diversity in business. Dr. Corneille discussed the benefit of setting targets, while Nike Anani and Ibitunde Balogun, advocated for mentoring. Having a mentor, Nike remarked, shortens the journey between where you are now and your intended destination.
The panel concluded with a discussion on authenticity, a core theme of this year’s festival. The panellists were all in agreeance on the value of individualism and the importance of creating an environment where all employees can bring their true selves to work.