Cape Argus

Addressing gender inequality at work

- TARA TURKINGTON Turkington is chief executive of Flow Communicat­ions.

GENDER inequality remains rife in South Africa as it does across the world. Research shows that teams that are diverse and inclusive are more productive, more innovative and more profitable.

Here are eight tips to building gender inclusivit­y in business.

Employ more women in management positions

The number of women in management positions is shockingly low all over the world, across all industries.

According to PwC’s 2021 Executive Directors Report, only 13% of executive directors (81 women in total) in JSE-listed companies currently are women.

Whichever industry you look at, including the agency world, numbers are similar. As an agency leader, commit to improving gender equity at a management level: build a strategy and implement it. It might not happen overnight, but change starts with identifyin­g an issue and commitment to addressing it.

Create a mentorship programme for women in your organisati­on

Numerous studies have shown that formal and informal mentorship increases the likelihood of a woman going further in her career.

Interestin­gly, a recent study on women in the public sector in South Africa found that this was true, no matter the gender of the mentor.

Create a strategy to hire young women as interns and junior staff

Before women can be in high-level positions, they need to start somewhere.

Create a strategy that will ensure you are hiring a high number of young women into your agency and that they are adequately trained and supported.

Give women platforms to share their ideas in the workplace, irrespecti­ve of their status

Women often find it harder to speak up in the workplace because they may not have the confidence or cultural capital to do so.

Make it easy for them by building opportunit­ies for them to share ideas and to build confidence on platforms where they feel safe to speak.

Check unconsciou­s bias

Unconsciou­s biases are assumption­s or attitudes we may not be aware of that may reinforce stereotype­s.

Examples of unconsciou­s bias regarding gender include thinking it’s okay to pay women less than men or believing blonde women are stupid.

Here is a list of some types of unconsciou­s bias to check your own attitudes against:

Speak up for gender equity

Make it clear in your company values statement that you treat all genders the same, so this is clear to everyone, and so the company can be held accountabl­e if this doesn't happen.


in girls’ education and developmen­t

Focus your BB-BEE budgets and your mentoring programmes on funding the education and training of young girls, especially black girls, who are the most disadvanta­ged of all in South Africa.

Take a girl child to work

Expose girl children to career choices and opportunit­ies that they may not otherwise be aware of as often as yowu can.

Create job-shadowing opportunit­ies and ad hoc internship opportunit­ies for girls.

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