This week saw the Launch of Safaricom’s Annual Sustainability Report. This marked the 6th year since Safaricom began publishing the report. The report interprets the set of procedures, business practices, and policies that constitute the organization’s philosophy comprehensive compilation. This allows the public to understand what defines the decision-making process as well as the company’s future proposition.
This year, Safaricom began its first phase of integration of the first phase of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). The purpose of the SDG’s is to convert the sustainability ideals into meaningful, realistic and measurable daily objectives for their staff members. Among these, SDG5 is the issue of gender equality. The report showed that there had been an increase in the number of women in the overall permanent staff. However, executive leadership took a great hit from last year’s numbers dropping from 42% or women representation to 25%.Senior management representation also recorded a slight decline from 33% representation to 30%.
According to Bob Collymore CEO Safaricom, ‘Gender equality and diversity were areas of particular focus for me this year. While we have made great strides as a business in terms of our overall gender parity, women are still relatively underrepresented at senior management levels. It is an area that we are determined to address further and one of our first steps is to disclose the matter transparently and start reporting the numbers and our progress against these annually.’
The above statistics may be a little surprising especially with the recent improvement we have seen in closing gaps and increasing female employment levels. However, what those numbers communicate is that there is still so much more to be done about this issue. So what is the importance of having women in our businesses? Well apart from the fact that it is their right, here is why businesses should increase the number of women in their workforce.
Diversification of talent
It does not matter what angle you look at it from. Women and Men are fundamentally different at their core. They each bring their unique touch to the table. They have different talents and abilities. According to The Advocate Group eliminating or decreasing the number of women in your workforce means you are losing out on half of the talent you should be getting. Recently Victoria Kingori got a position as a new Vogue Publisher. Her previous achievements have seen her appointed as the first female publisher of the male magazine- GQ. Even though she was a woman, her talent saw her thrive in a male-dominated area.
In today’s world, business reputation is increasingly becoming an important business tool. How other businesses, potential clients or customers view you impacts greatly on business performance. A study conducted by PWC cited that 83% of women seek careers in business who demonstrate strong records of diversity and equality. Potential clients may also shy away from working with companies known to treat women a certain way or discriminate from women in any form. The business is also likely to get heat from Human Rights organizations depending on the seriousness of the matter
It is important for any business to engage and retain a diverse audience or customer base. This requires as much effort to be put in the diversity in the workplace. Businesses should be able to connect to its customer base. According to Forbes, women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing through a combination of their buying power and influence. The biggest number of online buyers are women. All business would perform better if they grip female consumers. One way of doing this would be to increase women in the workforce. After all, women know what other women want.
‘If she can see it, she can be it’. We are in the business of motivating our young men and ladies to work towards greatness. I believe there is a greater number of role models for the male gender than there are for the female gender. Even with the increasing number of women in power or positions of leadership, more women in those roles would be of significant help. Young girls need to know that they can actualize their leadership roles in whatever sector. Role models are key in changing the previous perception of women. If young girls see other women occupy seats in senior management and leadership in businesses, they know that it can be done. It is important to celebrate our women as much as we do our men. The Top 40 Under 40 Women in the Business Daily is a great illustration of how we can showcase our women in leadership roles.