Ensuring gender equality in the workplace

Accra The International Women’s Day was instituted more than 100 years ago – in 1911, while the Fourth World Conference on Women by the United Nations (UN), popularly known in Ghana as the Beijing Conference, occurred 25 years ago.

These two events mark milestones on the difficult drive for gender equality. We have made strides along the way that have sustained our progress.

Gender equality is not an issue that has to be tackled by women only; it is economically expedient to get all hands-on board in achieving this goal.

The “HeforShe” initiative by the UN is an example of how men need to make conscious efforts at closing the gender gap.

Research is unanimous in arguing that women’s active participation in the workforce bolsters productivity and enhances the economic growth of any organisation, yet, practically, statistics also reveal that enough is not being done in this regard.

A study by “The Boardroom Africa” shows that women make up a paltry 8% of all Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) listed on Ghana’s Stock Exchange and they form just 3% of all Chairpersons on Ghana’s listed boards.

In other words, female CEOs and female Chairpersons are less than 1 in 10, and 1 in 5, respectively.

There are similar figures for positions like Managing Director (MD), Chief Operations Officer (COO), and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), where women occupy 5% or less across companies in Ghana.

Again, women represent 15% of company secretaries. In terms of directors, there are 62 female directors to 244 male directors. And finally, out of all non-executive directors on Ghana’s listed boards, women constitute 20%. These statistics illuminate the extensive gap that requires concerted and strategic efforts by all players in corporate Ghana.

This data does not reflect the immense contribution of women in our corporate workforce; rather it illuminates the various biases which inhibit their progress and affirms our view that in order to ensure women’s equality at the upper echelons of any corporate organisation, a safe working space has to be provided for all genders to thrive; where women perceive that they can give the best of themselves without imposed stereotypical albatrosses around their necks, we will be all the better for it.

These figures clearly demonstrate the extensive gap that requires concerted and strategic efforts by all players in corporate Ghana.

International Women’s Day 2020 has been a great opportunity for us at Standard Chartered to continue to promote equality and inclusion. We know we are heading in the right direction but remain acutely aware of the need to take bolder actions to rapidly level the playing field for our clients, colleagues and stakeholders.

As we foreground the lives of 49.2% of our female workforce, other female stakeholders and especially our female customers, we reiterate that achieving gender equality requires effort from all genders especially those in privileged positions.

Ensuring gender equality transcends individual acts, especially when systemic and structural regimes maintain the status quo. We need to prioritise actions over rhetoric.

It is refreshing that the female representation on our senior leadership team is 47% and that of our board, 38%, something ahead of our global aspirations as a Bank.

Added to that, are the high standards of conduct and the safe channels for employees to speak up should they face any form of gendered harassment or abuse. Furthermore, we prioritize work-life balance through our parental leave policy. Our female colleagues are eligible for up to 5 months of paid maternity leave while our male colleagues get up to 2 weeks of paid paternity leave. This helps ease the burden placed on women after childbirth and encourages both parents to actively support each other on the parenting journey. We believe that our colleagues should not be forced to choose between being good parents and good employees. We can do both.

I believe our female staff are doing a great job –overachieving targets, mentoring and training talent and living up to W.E.B Dubois’s quote which says, “There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.”

We will continue to support them to reach the apex of their careers and take on the world.

We can only continue to volunteer our skills and time to support the development and progress of women across the age spectrum by way of mentoring and coaching sessions with girls in second and third cycle institutions.

Having been in the Ghanaian market for over 120 years, we remain committed to supporting communities to become more prosperous by sustainably supporting small, medium and large corporates while enabling the full potential of women in a balanced working environment.

Source: Ghana News Agency