Women are advancing in leadership roles across Africa, but there is still some way to go before we see real equality at the top. We gathered some female African business leaders to ask what has been achieved and what needs to happen next on the road to gender equality in leadership.
CEO, Absa Bank Zambia PLC
‘Businesses are more mindful of solutions that are inclusive of women’
“As the number of female board members increases, businesses are becoming more mindful of solutions that are inclusive of women.
At Absa Bank Zambia PLC we have seen this through our experiences with Kongola, a digital product that is designed to give small loans to the ﬁnancially excluded. With this product, we have been deliberate with female participation and have put forward solutions such as increased ﬁnancial literacy for women to really support this growth.
“We need to ask ourselves how can we ensure we have more women in business who own equity in major companies. Women have proven that they are deserving of their seat at the table. The next phase of the conversation is to ensure we begin to see the numbers equally distributed both in terms of opportunities as well as reward parity.”
CEO, Uganda National Oil Company
‘Women have been inspired to aim higher’
“The increased visibility of women in the boardroom has inspired other women to learn more, aim higher and ably compete on a continent where males have dominated the boardrooms and businesses since time immemorial. African businesses with female diversity in leadership get more attention and trust of customers hence better returns due to the competitive edge of soft skills that women bring to the organisations.
“All CEOs must have diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as part of the business case for their organisations. Companies must make a deliberate effort to create an environment that allows employees to feel valued and be their true selves at work. Employees are looking beyond pay, towards companies’ value propositions! Without diversity, companies will struggle to secure the best workforce.”
Managing Consultant, AKMS Consulting, Founder of Women in Successful Careers
‘We must embed diversity and inclusion mindsets in the workplace’
“Although Africa has more women in senior roles than the average worldwide, women are still under-represented on every step of the ladder. Moreover, these numbers often do not translate to influence, as the quality of roles and the accompanying portfolio are often limited to staﬃng as opposed to line responsibilities. What is required is full female participation across all levels in core roles.
“The next phase of the conversation on diversity should be focused on advocating for CEOs, governments and public sector to make diversity a priority in their own interest, setting merit-based gender targets, monitoring and reporting on progress and making the required structural and process changes to embed diversity and inclusion mindsets in the workplace.”
Managing Director, Multichoice Tanzania
‘For the next phase, we need to go to the roots of the organisation’
“Gender diversity in the boardroom is gradually becoming a common agenda in both public and private organisations, particularly in the ﬁnancial sector. However, the journey has just started and has a long way to go before we can prove the impact of diversity in our communities.
“For the next phase of the conversation, we need to go to the roots of the organisation. More genuine and concerted efforts are needed from key decision-makers to make gender parity a reality from the board level to the senior and mid-level managerial positions, which are still largely dominated by men.
“As a female leader, I see a lot of opportunities for women in building strong and sustainable business entities by creating more gender-balanced teams across small and large corporations.”