The annual International Women’s Day Celebrations (IWD) presents an opportunity to celebrate the impressive achievements of women. It draws attention to women’s economic, social, cultural, and political contributions across communities. It recognises the progress that has been recorded in creating a level playing field for both the male and female genders to advance their careers in whatever industries they choose.
The world over, women’s role in society is fast evolving. More women are going to college, taking up employment outside the home, climbing up the ladder in the workplace, and making significant contributions to the global economy. It is reported that 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies are presently being led by women. Women’s sports are also gaining more traction as seen in the wild celebrations that followed the English Women’s football team’s triumph at the Euro Cup in 2022.
Narrowing this down to Africa, there has been an improvement in women’s participation in the economy and politics. Notably, about 20 percent of the African Union (AU) member states have accomplished a 30 percent women’s representation in parliament. Strategic state administrative roles in finance, defence and foreign affairs, which were usually filled by men, are being occupied by women in some states on the continent. The remarkable leap in the female gender’s socioeconomic participation in Africa is not unattached to the segment’s access to formal education, vocational training, and adoption of technology on a wider scale.
Hence, to commemorate IWD, businesses, governments, and regional and global agencies unfurled their women empowerment credentials as well as spotlighted the women driving change and providing inspiration for others in the category. Olam Agri in Nigeria, a leading agribusiness, chose the commemorative day to demonstrate its commitment to providing opportunities for women to access equal opportunities and positively impact society.
One of the pillars of the agribusiness Seeds for the Future (SFTF) Foundation’s corporate social and sustainability drive is economic empowerment of women. The firm’s women empowerment focus has seen it embark on strategic empowerment programmes comprising equipping women with baking skills, supporting female smallholder farmers with irrigation facilities, and sponsoring women to acquire useful certifications, such as the one offered by National Business and Technical (NABTECH) board to women bakers.
To commemorate the 2023 IWD, the agribusiness chose to fete and celebrate the extraordinary achievements of its female staff members under the ‘Supercharger’ and Globally Reaching Olam Women (GROW) initiatives.
The Olam Agri ‘Supercharger’ initiative is targeted at recognising high-performing staff members who are leveraging their job roles and responsibilities to make meaningful impact on the business. These women are seen as rare breeds who constantly suggest more efficient ways of getting work done, serve as role models, leaders, and coaches, promote positive energy, and demonstrate integrity, accountability, a growth mindset, respect for others and responsiveness at the workplace.
The women who emerged as ‘Superchargers’ for March 2023 and were celebrated as part of the IWD commemoration are Ayotomilola Oyebanji, Uduak Joshua Eyo-Ansa, Oluwakemi Oni Human Resource Managers in the Group’s Animal Feeds’ business, Jimoh Rasheedat, a Microbiologist in the Quality Control unit. These women are growing leaders who have taken up the opportunity availed them to make impactful contributions to the business.
Elated by the recognition, Ayotomilola captured the mood of the three other women superchargers. According to her, “We are so excited to be recognised for our contributions to the business. Olam Agri motivates its staff members to grow. The business is always willing to recognise and celebrate everyone notwithstanding gender. The ‘supercharger’ recognition will inspire me and my colleagues to perform even better in our roles.”
Speaking about the business’ gender equality focus and IWD commemoration, Ashish Pande, the Country Head for Olam Agri in Nigeria, said, “When you empower a woman, you are indirectly empowering a nation. We understand the role of women in achieving growth. We support our women with access to the right tools, capacity-building trainings, and growth opportunities that are necessary to advance their careers and lives.”
“We are proud to have some of the women emerge as superchargers in commemoration of the 2023 International Women’s Day. Superchargers are high-performing staff members who leverage their roles to drive organisational strategy & growth,” he added.
Jaideep Biswas, the Regional Head of Human Resources at Olam Agri, commented, “We prioritise diversity and equal opportunities for all our staff members. Of course, that is one of the reasons we have been recognised as an Employer of Choice by the Top Employer Institute for three consecutive years. It is a delight to see our women thriving in their roles as we provide them with the right tools and environment to make useful contributions to the organisation and advance their careers.”
Olam Agri continues to provide valuable pathways for women to advance their socioeconomic relevance.