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Positive signs for businesswomen in Africa


Mercer South Africa CEO Tamara Parker

Johannesburg – Mercer’s When Women Thrive 2020, Sub-Saharan Africa Report, finds that women in about 94% of organisations in sub-Saharan Africa have equal access to roles that lead to advancement into leadership positions, significantly higher than the global 79% average.

 Mercer South Africa CEO Tamara Parker says in the findings, 88% of respondents in this region report that their organisationsare already focused on improving diversity and inclusion.

 “This is an incredibly positive sign that backs up progress we have seen in a few countries such as South Africa, Ethiopia and Rwanda. More women are becoming CEOs, joining corporate boards and appointed to high-level ministerial positions in governments,” Parker says.

 Another positive aspect advancing workforce gender parity is equal access to opportunities, 56% have talent management practices in place for high-potential women, compared to 35% globally.

 Additionally, 78% of organisations say women are equally likely as men to move across business units and geographies, as compared to the global average of 71%.

 The Mercer report highlights that 82% of respondents say pay equity is part of their organisation’s compensation philosophy or strategy; compared to 74% globally. Moreover, 78% of organisations have a team responsible for conducting pay equity analysis; compared to 72% globally.

 “In organisations where a diverse workforce and inclusive culture is flourishing, senior leaders and board members play an important role. Senior executives in sub-Saharan Africa help to support cultural transformation by sponsoring meetings, publicly positioning diversity and inclusion as a business imperative, and participating as members of internal diversity councils; 48% in sub-Saharan Africa versus 43% globally,” the report says.

 The Mercer report adds that managers in Sub-Saharan Africa are significantly less involved in supporting diversity and inclusion efforts than senior executives, which is a major barrier, and missed opportunity to achieving the required progress.

 “For instance, the figure for middle managers is 65% in sub-Saharan Africa, against the global average of 53%. A critical part of the solution involves driving culture and tone from the top, a feat that can only be achieved by embracing a deep leadership commitment to taking action and engaging employees. Real diversity and inclusion in the workplace could become a force for change, particularly in Africa where gender inequality remains high across the continent. That is why women are better represented in organisations that view women’s health as critical to developing and retaining women, and that offer targeted programmes, including gender-specific health education campaigns and parental leave,” the Mercer report says.