By Winnie Kabintie
Africa is still far from achieving gender equality despite the strides made to increase women participation in both the private and public sectors, which exceed global averages, a new report has revealed.
According to the Women Matter Africa by McKinsey Africa, which launched yesterday in Nairobi, seeks to help organisations to understand the benefits of gender diversity in the top levels of management, observes that companies with a greater share of women on their boards of directors and executive committees tend to perform better financially.
“This report found that the earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margin of those with at least a quarter share of women on their boards was on average 20 percent higher than the industry average,” the report says.
The women matter report also observes that despite Africa having more women in executive committee, CEO, and board roles in companies than the average worldwide in the private sector, women are still “under-represented at every level of the corporate ladder – non-management and middle and senior management – and fall in number the higher they climb” with Only 5 percent of women making it to the very top.
According to the report, for every 100 women promoted, 130 men are.
Africa has more women in parliament and cabinet
In the political arena, Africa has more women in parliament and cabinet than the average with Southern and East Africa taking the lead, however, the study notes that these representation does not equal to influence.
“Although the number of women in leadership positions may have risen, women do not necessarily have greater power,” the report says, adding that the increase in women’s share of cabinet roles appears to come more from the creation of new social welfare portfolios than from any real redistribution of power.
Benefits of having women in leadership
The women matter report observes a myriad of benefits associated with female leadership, which include; robust work ethic, Openness to new perspectives, Commitment to professional development, Collaboration and inclusiveness.
“Research shows that male board members rely more on normative reasoning – that is, they prefer to make decisions based on rules, regulations, and traditional ways of doing business,they can be more open to considering new ideas and a broader set of solutions,” the report says.
How organisations can make gender diversity a reality
To make gender diversity a reality, the report recommends that key among other things, for organisations to make gender diversity a top board and CEO priority, Confront limiting attitudes toward women in the workplace, Anchor gender diversity strategies in a compelling business case and Implement a fact-based gender diversity strategy.
“Senior leaders should develop and enforce a cohesive gender diversity transformation strategy, own the communication about this transformation, monitor progress and lead the change,”
The report also calls on organisations to Confront limiting attitudes toward women in the workplace.
“Address unconscious bias by educating all employees and reviewing and changing processes (for example, recruitment and performance reviews) to make decision-making more objective; include men in gender diversity transformation initiatives; conduct surveys to understand what the limiting attitudes are”.
The women matter report draws on surveys undertaken by 55 leading companies based in Africa, interviews with 35 African women leaders, and analysis of the financial performance of 210 publically traded African companies. They draw on surveys undertaken by 55 leading companies based in Africa, interviews with 35 African women leaders, and analysis of the financial performance of 210 publically traded African companies.