Accenture, Business Engage, MTN and Nedbank address pertinent issues affecting women in the workplace
Gender parity, leadership, stereotypes, and opportunities were some of the issues addressed at the Voices of Change event hosted by Accenture, Business Engage, MTN and Nedbank at a packed event in Johannesburg.
Themed “individually strong, collectively powerful“, the event took place at Emperors Palace a day ahead of National Women’s Day. It inspired women to harness their strengths, recognise their power and use their voices. Attendees also had the opportunity to engage, network, gain insights, share learning and identify interventions that will help to empower women and embed a new sustainable set of values across organisations.
“The Voices of Change allow us to separate competition and issues as we work side by side with our partners because gender equality is not a woman or organisation issue – it’s a human issue,” said Ntombi Mhangwani, Integrated Marketing & Communications Director and Women’s Forum Lead for Accenture Africa. “We also come together to remind women that there’s nothing more rare, or beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically and authentically herself”, said Mhangwani.
Partnership was also a topic for Anne Githuku-Shongwe, Representative for the South Africa Multi-Country Office at the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, who encouraged women to grow their circles of influence and find the people they needed to uplift them.
Githuku-Shongwe applauded South Africa for being the 11th country in the world when it comes to gender parity in the cabinet but urged women not to lead like men. “There’s power in feminine leadership, but we don’t need to lead like men do. Rather, we need to work with them in order to reach equality”.
Continuing with the thread of the importance of using one’s voice, Themba Baloyi, Co-Founder of Sithega Holdings, said women must use their voices to push forward and to change the mentality of “if it doesn’t come from a male”, it’s not good enough.
“Do not lose who you are as a woman and don’t lead like a man – lead like who you are. Be persistent until you break the resistance,” he encouraged.
Attendees were given the chance to network with each other in round-table scenarios and discuss day-to-day issues they face. A millennial panel also shared sentiments on women thriving with men, and that leaders of businesses and organisations have the power to close the gender gap in career advancement and pay. A workplace culture of inequality unlocks human potential, creating an environment in which everyone can advance and thrive.
Godfrey Motsa, CEO: MTN South Africa said that: “Over the years, MTN has seen a number of women professionals within the company leading from the front. They have taken their rightful place in developing and driving solutions that improve the lives of the communities within which MTN operates”.
“These women believe in the power of connectivity.–In MTN terms, this is about improving the quality of the lives that MTN touches but beyond that, these are women working in support of other women, connecting them to opportunities, experiences and career paths in this exciting industry. At MTN, through the establishment of Women’s Forum, we aim to further strengthen our commitment to women empowerment and growth within the organisation”, Motsa concluded.
“Our commitment to working together as corporates towards achieving gender equality roles can help pave the future,” said Mhangwani. “We now need to not only recognise the value of female inclusion and the value of leadership diversity but action it too.”
Lerato Maupa, Chairperson of Nedbank Women’s Forum, said the Voices of Change event provided women from all participating partners an opportunity to learn how leaders are tackling gender equality.
“At Nedbank, we focus on the development of female employees and on Black Women-Owned suppliers, which can be seen through our development and training programmes. We are also proud of the fact that Nedbank women make up 67% of the workforce.”
Colleen Larsen, founder of Business Engage said: “I’m happy to see how committed Accenture, Nedbank and MTN are in advancing women, and trying to achieve gender parity in the workplace. While we still have massive strides to take, these businesses are setting an example of how organisations should work together to address pertinent issues affecting women in the workplace, and in society. Business Engage will help them achieve their goals, and narrow the gender gap,” she said.
The Voices of Change is a movement that seeks to encourage both men and women to be at the forefront of gender equality and play a leading role. It also aims to demonstrate how global organisations, irrespective of their business purpose, can come together to work towards common goals.
The movement was influenced by the 2017 One Young World Summit where Accenture and Thomson Reuters attendees identified an opportunity to leverage their networks and experience to create lasting, impactful change. This prompted the idea of strong collaborative action to achieve gender equality.