Critical Conversations

Skirt Marketing: The Horrors and Pressures on Female Bankers

Concerned stakeholders have continued to lament the pressures female marketers are made to undergo. Some banks are known to engage female employees and assign to them very high and unrealistic targets for deposit mobilisation and other assets creation ventures.

With the current challenging times and the struggle for survival in Nigeria’s uncertain labour market, those pressured female bank marketers have very little options than to compromise their dignity under the guise of marketing.

Irked by this dangerous trend, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila recently expressed serious concern about the exploitative ways banks use their female marketers.

 Mr Gbajabiamila said, “Some years back, I came up with a bill against corporate prostitution but it did not sail through. We need to know the kind of marketing that takes place.  We also must ensure that they set realistic targets for the marketers.

“We have the responsibility to protect Nigerians, and we also have the responsibility not to kill your business, so it is a delicate situation.”

Gbajabiamila, who expressed disappointment that top female bankers equally raised objections to the bill, noted that some of the international affiliates of the local banks wouldn’t attempt to send their staff out to solicit for funds in their home countries.
Citing Section 34 of the constitution which protects Nigerians from inhumane and downgrading treatment, he said the motion was timely as it would draw attention to the undignified treatment bankers are put through.

The Majority Leader lamented that “Marriages have been wrecked and homes destroyed because of this practice and I am sure that none of us here will allow our daughters to be involved in this.”

Sharing her experience on how banks are using female marketers as corporate prostitutes in Nigeria, a marketer with an old generation bank in Lagos who refused to confirm or deny whether as a marketer she has been a victim of this nefarious practice said:

“There is no university that will teach you how to be an efficient marketer; when you get to the field, you will learn to navigate your way to get your desired goal whether by sleeping or not sleeping with anybody.”

 She did not rule out the fact that most of the banks deliberately recruit pretty ladies to attract customers:

“Several years ago when l joined the banking industry, it was obvious that they had hidden agenda because they did not mince words. ‘Go over there and woo new customers with all that you have’ were the words from our supervisor, who told us that we were lucky to get the job because it was competitive.

 “More agonising was the fact that some of us who were sent to Abuja at the inception of the 7th National Assembly were specifically briefed to woo senators and members of the House of Representatives to open accounts with our bank.  Before we knew it, it became a rival race with other banks with similar motive, and some of us soon found ourselves on their beds in our desperate attempts to secure good bargaining.”

Although she did not confirm the extent of her involvement, she pointed out that the members of the National Assembly felt their presence so much that “most of them saw female bankers as preys they must sleep with before they can part with their deposits.

“Some of our colleagues eventually became second or third wives to some of these politicians when the chips were down. That is why you’d see most of them with kids, but they could not sustain the relationship because most of the ’emergency husbands’ went back to their bases after the Abuja sleaze.”

Under normal circumstances, firms use women for this role because of their psychological advantage over men. Women are known to have good human relations skill and are capable of building strong relationships with customers.

According to psychologists, women have natural social skills and acute emotional antennae, which make them ideal candidates for marketing success.

Women are also adept at getting through the door faster than men. Psychologists have also observed that pretty ladies tend to have their way easier with some men.

Studies by Harvard University researchers, as well as the Department of Management Science and Engineering at China’s Zhejiang University, have shown that beauty effectively overrides men’s capacity to behave rationally.

However, forcing bank marketers, especially females to meet unrealistic deposit targets could influence their decision to engage in illegal and immoral acts.

CEO, LEAH Foundation and former first lady of Kwara State, Mrs. Omolewa Ahmed, who condemned the act, regretted that the aim of recruiting these female marketers is to serve the selfish interest of their employers.

According to her, “These ladies are given unrealistic targets to meet. In a bid to meet the targets and particularly keep their jobs, these ladies are consequently forced or led into prostitution with potential customers.”

She pointed out that all hands should be on deck to stop the ugly trend, adding that like minds should provide a panacea to preserve the woman from losing her dignity on the platform of employment.

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 Stakeholders believe that the situation can be salvaged if all hands were on deck. At a recent seminar organised by a section on the legal practice of the Nigerian Bar Association, in Lagos, on the theme, “The Reality of Women’s Rights in Nigeria”, women were encouraged to wake up from their slumber and confront the ugly trend holistically.

Speaking at the seminar, a former executive director in Access Bank, Mrs Titi Osuntoki argued that there is no bank that would go all out to recruit marketers for prostitution. She added that there are lots of organisations that do not have a clear-cut policy on the sexual harassment of their female workers.

She argued that “The loss of moral values in the society has led to erosion of our cherished culture that protects our women in all ramifications. Therefore, if you have an environment that does not place limits or boundaries on exploitation, this is the type of thing you are bound to witness.”

Many people have shared their experience with female marketers who seem to be under pressure to do anything to get prospective male customers’ money in their banks.

 The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiel added his voice to the ugly trend. He stressed that the practice goes against ethical conduct and corporate governance. According to him, the practice could induce negative moral implications.

It is obvious that financial institutions are taking undue advantage of the state of unemployment in the country to exploit their female employees when proper morals should be the compass of any business.