Stanbic Bank Botswana’s Head of legal Siamisang ‘Thokie’ Morolong has a new perk on her shoulders – the bank’s Diversity and Inclusion Champion.
She was unveiled during the Bank’s International Women’s Day commemoration, which is part the institution’s Women Network initiative.
By all indications she is more than ready to take charge of this initiative.
“All women are leaders,” she states boldly whilst talking about the place of ‘the woman’ in all tenets of life. “We want women to stand up and be counted while men also step up and acknowledge that women are important stakeholders,” she declares.
She believes that she should, in her position as the leader of the bank’s cohort of lawyers, be able to identify valuable team members who are worthy of handling the intricate issues of the bank’s legal department. She should then groom them to become the best leaders they can be after she is gone.
She credits her first employment as a lecturer at the University of Botswana for equipping her with the resonance to acknowledge performance when she sees one.
“There was a point when my former boss would expect me to be hands-on on everything regarding the department. I had to make sure he had as much trust in my team as I did,” she says, adding that having faith in one’s team is an invaluable trait for any leader to have.
She recalls being asked, at the recent launch of the Stanbic Bank Women Network campaign, about the legacy that is worth noting with regards to women empowerment in the office.
To this, she said leaders in organisations need to be accommodative of employees’ personal concerns and act with remorse. “Would you work to your best ability knowing you left a sick child at home?” she challenged.
Despite going full steam ahead on women empowerment and advocating for their inclusion in all aspects of life, Morolong insisted that the issue is still a new conversation for the Group that they intend to conquer.
As the campaign champion, her main aim is to ensure there is diversity in the personnel tasked with pushing the agenda of the bank such as hiring and catering for people with disabilities who are just as capable of producing results. She also has to ensure there is a balance in the number of women employed in contrast to their male counterparts.
“We currently stand at 63 percent female staff complement through all our branches,” she said. She, however, also noted that though promising, more still needs to be done to ensure qualifying women are offered a seat at the bank’s executive table.
Another field she is tasked with cracking is how the bank can tackle the issue of youth unemployment, the up skilling of women, entrepreneurship as well as health and wellness.
Some of the initiatives through which these will be done include the international ‘HeForShe’ campaign endorsed by the Stanbic Bank Botswana CEO. ‘Lionesses of Africa’ is another such initiative aimed specifically at zoning in on the solutions to the challenges women entrepreneurs face in the various communities within which their enterprises are based. With the bank also being a partner to the Botswana Careers Roundtable, youth entrepreneurs and women businesses get to contribute to the country’s economy whilst creating the much needed employment. This, she explained, is done by linking youth entrepreneurs with professionals through roundtable discussions. These also end up in beneficial one-on-one sessions that have proven to be highly productive.
Before joining the bank, Morolong was a Senior Lecturer at UB and the transition to the corporate world back in 2010 had been an eye opening experience. She was reminded how at first, she found it difficult to adapt to the environment, unable to speak the business language.
“The business people want immediate solutions to technically business oriented problems, something I had to learn on the job,” she indicated. On the tenet of ‘Inclusion’, Morolong said she challenges her team to strive for improved communication with the business community, something which she is still learning after close to 20 years on the job. She also encourages personal development that would better place candidates for better placement within the company with.
She revealed that the bank encourages all employees to have their own personal development vision that is in line with that of the company. “This is so that as one works, they are fulfilling a purpose, that of their own and the organisation,” she explained, noting that she first entered Stanbic Bank as a lawyer and has grown through the ranks to become a department head as well as an ambassador for the company’s latest women empowerment campaign.