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Gender diversity, inclusion improves in African businesses

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 04 March 2020   |   By Grant Thornton
Gender diversity, inclusion improves in African businesses

Over the last five years, the case for diversity and inclusion has looked good for Africa. In 2020, 38% of senior management positions in African businesses are held by women, compared to 29% of global businesses. The African average has steadily risen from 23% in 2015 to 38% in 2020. The changes are reflective of the actions that businesses are taking to improve or preserve the gender balance of their leadership team. 78% of mid-market businesses globally and 85% in Africa, are actively working on removing barriers to gender parity at senior levels according to the latest research from Grant Thornton’s International Business Report.

The number of businesses driving initiatives such as ensuring developmental opportunities (34% globally, 45% in Africa), creating an inclusive culture (34% globally, 38% in Africa) and flexible working (31% globally, 39% in Africa), have all seen an increase across all initiatives measured by the report. 

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Aparna Vijay, who recently took over as Partner in charge of the Corporate Services division of Grant Thornton says, “It is extremely encouraging to see deliberate action taking place as mid-market businesses ramp up activities that encourage progress and accessibility to leadership positions for women. The last couple of years have seen a sharp rise in the representation of women at a senior level within African businesses, and this is also evidenced within the Botswana market. With women such as Ms Naseem Banu Lahri, Ms Motshabi Mokone and Ms Jane Tselayakgosi taking on roles as Managing Director of Lucara Botswana, Managing Director of Absa Life Botswana and Group CEO of Hollard Insurance Botswana, respectively, the possibilitie looks positive for women in senior leadership roles in Botswana.”

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. Aparna says, “If we want to continue to see more women in senior positions, businesses need to be intentional. Policies that ensure diversity of thought at the decision-making table, that address equal opportunity in career development and bias in recruitment and develop inclusive cultures can’t just be a “nice to have” – they are a must. Once implemented, these policies must be enforced and regularly reassessed to judge their effectiveness. When that is combined with real commitment from senior leadership, only then will real transformational change take place.”

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Significant findings: ●38% of senior management positions within mid-market African companies are held by women (29% globally)  ● 98% of African businesses have at least one woman in senior management (87% globally)●85% of mid-market African businesses are actively working on their gender balance (78% globally). Common initiatives include: ● Ensuring equal access to developmental opportunities (45% in Africa, 34% globally)

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● Enabling flexible working (39% in Africa, 31% globally) ● Creating an inclusive culture (38% in Africa, 34% globally) ● Mentoring/coaching (38% in Africa, 26% globally) ● Reviewing recruitment processes (27% in Africa, 26% globally) ● Gender quotas (27% in Africa, 22% globally) ● Reward for senior management linked to targets (23% in Africa, 23% globally) ● Unconscious bias training (19% in Africa, 21% globally),  The number of women at CEO level in Africa has increased from 11% in 2019 to 22% in 2020 (15% in 2019 to 20% in 2020, globally), while those in CFO roles has increased from 30% in 2019 to 43% in 2020 (dropped from 34% in 2019 to 30% in 2020, globally). [Source: Grant Thornton]



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