‘We ad­vo­cate for gen­der equal­ity’

. . . says Vo­da­com Ex­ec­u­tiveve Head of Depart­ment: Hu­man Re­sources, Ad­vo­cate Pu­lane Ra­monene

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

Vo­da­com Le­sotho this week lined up a se­ries of events in cel­e­bra­tion of In­ter­na­tional Women’s Week.

In this wide-rang­ing in­ter­view, Vo­da­com Ex­ec­u­tive Head of depart­ment: Hu­man Re­sources, ad­vo­cate Pu­lane Ra­monene, tells Le­sotho Times (LT) reporter, Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane, about the com­pany’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to­wards gen­der-par­ity and women-em­pow­er­ment both in­ter­nally and within the broader com­mu­nity.

ad­vo­cate Ra­monene re­cently as­sumed her po­si­tion as Head of the Hu­man Re­sources depart­ment af­ter she took a bold move from the com­pany’s le­gal unit. She ex­plains her in­ter-de­part­men­tal move­ment and gen­eral ex­pe­ri­ence with the lead­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany.

LT: Firstly, please could you tell us briefly about your jour­ney with Vo­da­com, from the time you joined the com­pany to where you are to­day.

Ra­monene: I joined Vo­da­com in march 2013 as the anti money Laun­der­ing man­ager, in the Le­gal and Reg­u­la­tory depart­ment. as a cu­ri­ous per­son, I wanted to di­ver­sify and gain knowl­edge on busi­ness end-end and thus made a lat­eral move to a hu­man re­sources en­vi­ron­ment.

I joined the HR (Hu­man Re­sources) depart­ment in Novem­ber 2014 as a Se­nior Hu­man Re­sources Busi­ness Part­ner. I was con­firmed as Ex­ec­u­tive Head of Hu­man Re­sources from 1Fe­bru­ary 2016.

LT: Please high­light some of your ex­pe­ri­ences work­ing for Vo­da­com.

Ra­monene: I think one key as­pect that I would like to high­light is Vo­da­com’s unique com­pany cul­ture. I think be­yond our pow­er­ful brand, we’re a com­pany with a very vi­brant cul­ture and high per­form­ing cul­ture; a com­pany made up of young peo­ple who are very tal­ented and driven.

our cul­ture re­volves around treat­ing one an­other as a fam­ily and putting cus­tomers at the cen­ter of ev­ery­thing we do. It’s a place where you are al­lowed to be your own per­son. For me, it was quite en­light­en­ing to be part of this phe­nom­e­non and dis­tinct en­vi­ron­ment where you are able to be your­self and un­leash your po­ten­tial.

It’s one of those en­vi­ron­ments where you are al­ways and con­stantly be­ing given an op­por­tu­nity to say ‘how well can you do in a cer­tain area, and to stretch your­self be­yond your nor­mal ca­pa­bil­i­ties’. That’s why I am where I am to­day.

Vo­da­com is also a tech­nol­ogy en­vi­ron­ment. of course, we all know that tech­nol­ogy as an in­dus­try, is a male-dom­i­nated arena, but the com­pany has a lot of solid poli­cies and ini­tia­tives to en­sure there is di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion within our work­place.

LT: On that note, you play a sig­nif­i­cant role, as the Head of HR, in terms of em­ploy­ment and de­ploy­ment of both men and women in bal­ance. How do you man­age this?

Ra­monene: It’s a chal­leng­ing task, but one that I be­lieve is very achiev­able. We are pos­i­tive and am­bi­tious that at one point we will be able to say that we have achieved our goal of gen­der-par­ity in the work­place.

as I men­tioned, our vi­sion, es­pe­cially as HR, is to en­sure that we don’t only mo­ti­vate but also de­velop and em­power women within the work­place.

as a com­pany, we strongly ad­vo­cate for gen­der equal­ity and women em­pow­er­ment in the work­place and in the com­mu­nity backed up by clear, bold and solid poli­cies on di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion.

LT: With re­gards to In­ter­na­tional Women’s Week, we are aware that you have pre­pared some events to em­brace women. Could you tell us about th­ese ini­tia­tives?

Ra­monene: For In­ter­na­tional Women’s Week, we have a struc­tured plan out­lin­ing how we are go­ing to rec­og­nize, em­brace and com­mem­o­rate the week.

cur­rently the cam­paign that we are in­ter­nally push­ing is called Heforshe, which is a global sol­i­dar­ity move­ment that calls upon men and women to take ac­tion and ad­vo­cate for gen­der-equal­ity to en­sure their moth­ers, wives, sis­ters, daugh­ters and other women in their lives have more em­pow­ered fu­tures.

The move­ment for gen­der-equal­ity was orig­i­nally con­ceived as a strug­gle led by women for women.

How­ever, in re­cent years, men all over the world have be­gun to stand-up and ad­dress the in­equal­i­ties and dis­crim­i­na­tion faced by women and girls.

Voda­fone and Vo­da­com have com­mit­ted to sup­port the cam­paign and have pledged to sign up 100,000 em­ploy­ees world­wide to make the Heforshe com­mit­ment and con­trib­ute to the one bil­lion United Na­tions tar­get.

Be­yond that, last year we in­tro­duced a new ma­ter­nity leave pol­icy, which is rec­og­nized as one of the most pro­gres­sive in the world. Voda­fone and Vo­da­com im­ple­mented this with the in­ten­tion of us demon­strat­ing that as a com­pany, we sup­port the work-life bal­ance and re­alise the im­por­tance of women in the work­place as well as the fam­ily com­mit­ments they have.

The new ma­ter­nity leave pol­icy grants four months fully paid ma­ter­nity re­gard­less of one’s po­si­tion, the en­ti­tle­ment goes be­yond the statu­tory re­quire­ments. The pol­icy also pro­vides for full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months of nurs­ing hours af­ter their re­turn to work.

We are also cog­nizant of the fact that fam­i­lies are not only made up of women thus we also in­tro­duced a five-day fully-paid pa­ter­nity leave for male. This is also a mile­stone we are proud of as a com­pany.

as ear­lier men­tioned, we ap­pre­ci­ate peo­ple for who they are, we do cel­e­brate the fact that be­yond you be­ing a Vo­da­com em­ployee, you are also a mem­ber of the so­ci­ety. So we have what we call the Women in Red awards.

Th­ese awards have been in­tro­duced to recog­nise women who go the ex­tra mile to give, on their own ac­cord, a help­ing hand or any sup­port or guid­ance in the com­mu­nity. They are women who are very pas­sion­ate about giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity.

The win­ners of the award would ob­vi­ously have some­one mo­ti­vat­ing them to make that ex­tra time to be do­ing such a phe­nom­e­nal job out­side Vod - acom and there­fore a men­tor is also rec­og­nized for their guid­ance and sup­port.

The Women in Red win­ners are not only recog­nised in Le­sotho, but world­wide where Voda­fone and Vo­da­com op­er­ate and in to­tal, 100 women and their re­spec­tive men­tors are awarded.

Fur­ther­more, we have nom­i­na­tions for in­tel­li­gent and dy­namic fe­male en­gi­neers within the com­pany whose achieve­ments we cel­e­brate.

The recog­ni­tion of in­di­vid­u­als’ per­sonal ef­forts is ex­tremely im­por­tant and Vo­da­com en­cour­ages the cul­ture of recog­ni­tion as we be­lieve it builds con­fi­dence and drive within women in the com­pany, and for that mat­ter, for all staff that as­pire to as­sume se­nior ex­ec­u­tive lead­er­ship po­si­tions in the fu­ture.

LT: What about the women out­side Vo­da­com? Do you also rec­og­nize and cel­e­brate them?

Ra­monene: We do, in­deed. There are a num­ber of ini­tia­tives we have in place to cel­e­brate women out­side Vo­da­com’s work­place. The first is the mwomen En­trepreneur­ship Pro­gramme, launched to em­power women in the com­mu­nity.

In part­ner­ship with UNDP (United Na­tions de­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme), the pro­gramme was launched in Novem­ber 2015 with the man­date to sup­port women so­ci­eties in the com­mu­nity.

Vo­da­com gave retail con­tain­ers to six dif­fer­ent women so­ci­eties across the coun­try for free and to­gether with UNDP, en­sured the women re­ceived fi­nan­cial and busi­ness train­ing to en­able them to suc­cess­fully run their new con­tainer busi­nesses.

The mo­tive was to sup­port Ba­sotho women be fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent and have the ex­per­tise to op­er­ate a sus­tain­able busi­ness. We need to see more lo­cal women con­tribut­ing to the econ­omy of the coun­try through en­trepreneur­ship.

The se­cond ini­tia­tive we en­gaged women in was afCHIX, an En­gi­neer­ing Work­shop for women in tech­nol­ogy that is hosted an­nu­ally in var­i­ous african coun­tries. In 2015, the work­shop was hosted by Vo­da­com Le­sotho and Lca (Le­sotho com­mu­ni­ca­tions au­thor­ity), in part­ner­ship with the african Net­work oper­a­tors Group.

The aim of the work­shop was to give the fe­male en­gi­neers par­tic­i­pat­ing the abil­ity to in­stall, upgrade and se­cure the LINUX op­er­at­ing sys­tem and as­so­ci­ated func­tion­al­i­ties.

The over­all goal of the work­shop was to cre­ate a vi­brant net­work of african Women in com­puter Sci­ence and re­lated ar­eas for the pur­pose of sup­port­ing each other. over 30 young Ba­sotho women par­tic­i­pated with well over 50 per­cent of those not be­ing Vo­da­com em­ploy­ees. LT: Are there any other Vo­da­com sup­ported women ini­tia­tives in the com­mu­nity?

Ra­monene: We have the Women in Re­sis­tance Ex­hi­bi­tion. The Women in Re­sis­tance was a trav­el­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, which was orig­i­nally dis­played at al­liance Française and was ded­i­cated to women around the world who ex­ist, re­sist, ar­gue, sur­vive and re­build. Vo­da­com mwomen spon­sored 12 por­traits of ‘women in re­sis­tance’ in Le­sotho to be added to the ex­hi­bi­tion.

Sub­se­quently, we en­sured each of the women’s in­spir­ing sto­ries was trans­lated into Se­sotho and Her majesty Queen maseeiso of­fi­cially opened the ex­hi­bi­tion in Morija where it is for­mally housed at the mu­seum.

cur­rently, Vo­da­com is spon­sor­ing lo­cal stu­dents in morija to be taught pho­tog­ra­phy and writ­ing skills through our part­ner­ship with The Hub, which they are then us­ing to add por­traits of ‘women in re­sis­tance’ in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to the Ex­hi­bi­tion. The ad­di­tions shall be for­mally added dur­ing the month of march 2016 and will show­case sto­ries of em­pow­er­ment and in­spi­ra­tion of women in the morija precinct.

LT: What about the is­sue of gen­der­based vi­o­lence? What does the com­pany say about this scourge?

Ra­monene: Vo­da­com stands firmly be­hind the cam­paign to end vi­o­lence against women and girls. We have con­tin­u­ously sup­ported the min­istry of Gen­der and Youth, Sports and Recre­ation by work­ing with UN (United Na­tions) agen­cies and other Ngos ad­dress­ing gen­der is­sues to elim­i­nate vi­o­lence against women and girls in Le­sotho.

We are also ex­plor­ing an in­no­va­tive new, tech­nol­ogy-based ap­proach to pub­lic safety, which has the po­ten­tial to have a huge im­pact on crime in gen­eral, and gen­der-based vi­o­lence in par­tic­u­lar.

Ad­vo­cate Pu­lane Ra­monene

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