AFRICA IS AHEAD OF THE WORLD IN BUSINESS GENDER PARITY

Grant Thornton report says Botswana is among leading countries

According to independent assurance, tax and advisory firm, Grant Thorton, the case for diversity and inclusion has looked good for Africa over the last five years. The firm says 38 percent of senior management positions in African businesses are held by women in 2020, compared to 29 percent for global businesses.

Aparna Vijay, Partner in charge of the Corporate Services division, has stated that the African average has steadily risen from 23 percent in 2015 to 38 percent today. The changes are reflective of the actions that businesses are taking to improve or preserve the gender balance of their leadership teams. Referencing this year’s Grant Thornton’s International Business Report, Vijay noted that 78 percent of mid-market businesses globally and 85 percent in Africa are actively working on removing barriers to gender parity at senior levels. 

According to the report, the numbers of businesses driving initiatives such as ensuring developmental opportunities are at 34 percent globally and 45 percent in Africa. Creating an inclusive culture is rated 34 percent globally and 38 percent in Africa while flexible working is at 31 percent globally and 39 percent in Africa. Vijay noted that Africa has seen an increase across all initiatives measured by the report.

“It is very encouraging to see deliberate action taking place as mid-market businesses ramp up activities that encourage progress and accessibility to leadership positions for women,” she said. 

She added that the sharp rise in representation of women at a senior level within African businesses was also evidenced within the Botswana market. “Women, including Naseem Banu Lahri, Motshabi Mokone and Jane Tselayakgosi, who are taking on roles of Managing Directors at Lucara Botswana, Absa Life Botswana and Group CEO of Hollard Insurance Botswana respectively, show the possibilities that are there for women in senior leadership roles in Botswana,” Vijay pointed out.

She said with many mid-market businesses now being intentional in their efforts to boost equality, markets may continue to see more women in leadership positions over the coming years as initiatives are embedded and begin to show results. She emphasised that if people want to continue seeing more women in senior positions, businesses need to be intentional. For her, policies that ensure diversity of thought at the decision-making table, that address equal opportunity in career development and bias in recruitment and that develop inclusive cultures cannot  just be a “nice to have” because they are a must. Once implemented, these policies must be enforced and regularly reassessed to judge their effectiveness. Vijay said when that is combined with real commitment from senior leadership, real transformational change take place.