5% of CEO roles in Africa are held by women. Let that figure sink in a moment. For a continent where women outnumber men, according to the 2011 census by the Worldstat (Source: here), you might think this percentage shocking. And it is. Yet across the continent and the Africa diaspora, companies and individuals are fighting for equal representation. This blog will examine some of these profiles alongside the problems this lack of diversity creates.
In a recent interview for New African Woman Magazine (Source: here), Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Women’s executive director, pointed to a lack of participation for men and boys at home to engage in the current issues faced by Africa’s women. A two-part approach, the sensitisation of men to the problems and the encouragement of female representation, she believes, will be the key to unlocking the potential in Africa’s economy. Subordinating women is also considered as one of the major factors in the lack of female representation across Africa.
Why though should companies strive for a more gender-balanced workforce? The advantages seem endless. For businesses that target a wide-ranging market, diversity in the workplace helps encourage a diverse way of thinking. This helps bring together different kinds of energy, which complement each other and help a business achieve its potential. Women in business are also better suited to corner those markets traditionally supported by women. Put quite simply, a 50/50 workforce reflects the society in which we live.
The situation currently is not as bleak as previously thought. Thanks to the power of the Internet, the number of female writers and bloggers has tripled in recent years. Blog such as the Lionesses of Africa (Website: here) help women entrepreneurs connect and share their various experiences in a very male-dominated market. The number of African women billionaires has also risen in recent years: women like Isabel dos Santos, who is the controlling stakeholder in the Portuguese telecom company, Nos SGPS, and Folorunsho Alakija, the self-made billionaire and founder of the tailoring company, Supreme Stiches, are paving the way for women in the higher echelons of the African business world.
Yet these examples represent only a very small number of women at the top, and often are only the very rich. How can companies then promote and improve their diversity so that we find a better representation in every position? There are various methods but the most effective ones appear to be developing a hiring strategy to make the workforce represent the society one works in. Another method involves diversity training for the company, a method which more and more businesses are beginning to adopt. On the recruitment side of the matter, it remains important to ensure that any recruitment agency or HR departments align with your company’s commitment to promote diversity in the workplace.
And what about the Talent Agenda Series? Here at TAS, we have always believed in the importance of diversity in the workplace and as such, attendees to the Johannesburg conference will be able to participate a breakfast briefing on the future of women in African business and the methods current leaders use to promote such diversity across the panellists. Those lucky listeners will hear Brighton Mwiinga, the Head of Human Resources for Prudential Life Assurance and Precious Murena-Nyika, the Human Resources and Communications Director for Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe & President of The Institute of the People Management in Zimbabwe.
Come along then and hear from some of Africa’s leading women in business and ensure your company is keeping up-to-date with current diversity methods and strategies.
Do not miss the opportunity to attend to our upcoming event in Johannesburg!
You can find more information about our speakers and the agenda here