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Glory Edozien: To significantly increase the number of women who enter senior management roles on the continent’

By Tonye Bakare
28 September 2019   |   4:30 am
Times have changed. While hard work (or rather smart work) is still extremely important, research now shows us that women can lose out on promotions and high visibility career opportunities because senior managers may not know them well or be acquainted with their work...

Glory Edozien

Glory Edozien is a gender workplace consultant and a certified expert in climate change and renewable energy finance. In the last five years she has trained over 500 women in networking for career growth, public speaking, confidence to mention a few and has contributed to climate change policy documents at the national level. She is the lead coach at the Inspired by Glory Academy where she is focused on increasing the number of women in leadership positions in Africa’s private sector. She is also the founder of 9to5chick a community of over 14,000 millenial career women. Glory holds a PhD in Real Estate and Planning from the University of Reading in the UK and is an alumna of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers. In this interview with GuardianWoman, Glory reveals her personality, why she teaches women how to become visible in their careers and climb the corporate ladder amongst others.

You teach women how to become visible in their careers. Why do you think this is important to those whom you have taught?
Times have changed. While hard work (or rather smart work) is still extremely important, research now shows us that women can lose out on promotions and high visibility career opportunities because senior managers may not know them well or be acquainted with their work and may therefore underrate their job performance. Research also suggests that women tend to have fewer meaningful interactions with senior leaders compared to male peers, a critical strategic tool for career advancement. For the women who come to our academy, learning about visibility and networking can make all the difference in their careers. These are brilliant women doing amazing work who are learning everyday to project the value they bring to the workplace in a compelling way and build strategic relationships for career advancement.

This is essentially our mission at the Inspired by Glory Academy, to equip career women across Africa, who do great work, with the skills and tools to raise their profile at work, so they can get the recognition they deserve, earn more money and climb the corporate ladder.

Boardroom politics has been blamed for the limited number of Nigerian women leading big companies in the country. How do you think women can get this right?
The Mckinsey Women Matter report on Africa suggests that in the private sector only 5 per cent of women make it to the very top of their careers. Lack of the right mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, low skill acquisition, gender bias in the workplace, and recruitment and company policies are just some of the challenges that prevent women from excelling in the workplace.

Fixing this will require a collaborative effort between both men and women. Women organisations and networks need to co-opt more men into conversations about unconscious gender bias in the workplace. Companies also need to promote more career sponsorship opportunities for women, where there is a deliberate strategy for senior established career influencers to advocate for more deserving women to move up the ladder or attain key high visibility career opportunities and/or line roles which lead to C-suite opportunities. Fundamentally, there needs to be a move to inspect and change workplace policies, which may mitigate against the advancement of women at work.

How and why did you start Inspired by Glory Academy?
I honestly was tired of seeing talented women hold themselves back either due to lack of confidence, limiting beliefs and/or narrowly defined societal norms of what women are allowed to be or become. Having struggled with confidence issues myself, I never want another woman to feel she is incapable of reaching her highest potential, whatever she deems that to be. However, I must be honest, I never set out to open an academy at the start. It evolved. First from trying to discover my own passions and potential. After completing my PhD and building a successful career as an environmental expert and climate change policy consultant, I wanted more for my career and for the women I met everyday, who were struggling to advance their careers. So I started with a small experiment. In 2014, I launched the Inspire Series, a video series which documented inspirational journeys of some of the most powerful women I knew. Through that experience and lessons from my own career, I saw first-hand how building a strategic network and finding compelling ways to communicate my expertise and value helped me, and some of the women I interview, advance their careers. It was on this foundation that the Inspired by Glory Academy was born.

How important is mentoring for women, especially those in the corporate world?
While I agree that mentoring is very important for career advancement, all the research now points to the fact that women tend to be over-mentored and under-sponsored. Sponsorship is the act of a more senior well-established career professional, employing their social capital to advocate for the career advancement of someone junior to them. Sponsorship is key because it goes beyond giving career advice to actually opening doors, which the recipient may hitherto not have been aware existed, especially as many career advancement decisions happen when the individual in question is not present. In other parts of the world sponsorship has been seen to have a more measurable impact on career advancement than just mentorship alone. It is therefore critical that career women deliberately begin to identify, build and maintain strategic networks of both mentors and sponsors.

You manage a community of young career women – in that community, are there times you think there is a truth to the notion that women are their own worst enemies?
I have never believed in that notion. I think it is a dangerous mentality to imbibe. Women support women, so do men, and I have seen many cases of this. In instances where there are issues it is usually as a result of miscommunication or personality clashes both of which are non-gender related. What is fundamental though is to have an open and generous mindset. I do not believe anyone deliberately sets out to not offer support, but we are all busy individuals with varying commitments, which is why it is important to keep an open mind and give people, men or women, the benefit of the doubt.

You have a doctorate degree in real estate and planning, why are you focused on mentorship for women?
I still actively use my doctorate degree in my work as a climate change policy consultant where I am frequently part of various national policy expert groups. My specific focus is on the power sector where I regularly provide contributions on climate change mitigation options or climate finance perspectives. Having successfully built (and still building) a career in this space, I am passionate about sharing my expertise with women who want to lead fulfilling careers.

As a certified expert on climate change and renewable energy finance, what roles do you think Nigerian women can play in the global scheme of things with regards to the environment?
I could write a book on this. Firstly, while climate change impacts are felt by everyone, evidence shows that the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change affect the more vulnerable in our society. Women and girls typically fall within this group. Furthermore, since women are typically responsible for household chores such as fetching water, securing fuel for cooking and cooking, they must work harder when access to these resources become strained as a result of climate change. In addition women are typically not well represented in political/policy decision-making processes both at the national and community levels, which effectively excludes them from critical information that could steer policy. Women, therefore, have a huge role to play at all decision-making and policy levels particularly as climate resilient policies and plans are developed.

If you could influence change, what change would you effect for African women?
Our mission at the Academy is to significantly increase the number of women who enter senior management roles on the continent. We hope to achieve this firstly by working directly with career women themselves, empowering them with the skills to build strategic relationships and overcome gender- based workplace bias. Secondly, by fostering mentoring and sponsorship relationship opportunities between established career leaders in the C-suite and those women seeking to access senior management positions and opportunities. Thirdly, we are positioning to produce targeted African knowledge streams and research-based evidence which will shed more light on specific challenges women face in securing leadership positions in Africa’s private sector. Finally, it is our intention to work with organisations to increase the number of women in their leadership talent management pipeline.

Who and what drives you?
I want to make a difference. I want my life to count for something. I want to sit with my grandchildren when I am 80 and tell them stories of how their grandmother made life better for other women.