Gender inequality at work remains an issue for women in big corporates and SMEs – regardless of industry – not only in SA but on a global scale. Women work twice as hard for half the recognition while juggling families; and they are still paid less for positions of equal status to men. Ashley Judd’s fiery “Nasty Woman” speech delivered at the DC Women’s March earlier this year [January 2017] is evidence that women are becoming increasingly more vocal against this disparity – and rightly so.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016 – women around the world work on average 39 days per year more than men do and only have access to 59% of the economic advantages enjoyed by men. The same Gender Gap Report says it will take another 170 years before there is global equality of the sexes. While it’s true that well-educated women are moving up the corporate ranks, disproportionately few reach the summit.
These stats prove women are not just getting worked up about their position in corporate life and according to Isilumko Activate Executive, Lauren Durant, although many leadership teams work at removing organisational barriers – addressing unconscious biases and limited flexibility of hours for example – many of these hurdles are deeply intertwined, making them even harder to eliminate.
So what’s to be done about a problem that’s so engrained?
“Talk is cheap and mission statements too easily hung on the wall,” says Durant. “I believe closing the gender gap takes action driven by commitment from the top down. But it’s ultimately women who have the power to help their peers succeed.”
Adding to this, Durant says that all it takes is one woman to break the mold within an organisation. “As every corporate ladder climber knows – having a seasoned guide can make all the difference so nurturing and guiding woman coming through the ranks has become a way of life for me.”
Durant proposes tackling the system that prevents women from getting the jobs they deserve by consciously adopting new behaviours to change this, including:
• Build women up – both in skills and confidence; attitude and resilience are the difference
• Be a good role model – mentor women and provide regular feedback
• Be honest and keep communication channels open – sharing the details of your personal career challenges
• Support the entire person – help them manage their home and work life in a way that keeps her on track professionally
• Exposure – make sure your female staff are exposed to new opportunities for growth
Be an Olivia Pope
“It’s time more of us stood up like the Ashley Judd’s and Olivia Pope’s of the world – both for ourselves and for our female colleagues. It’s time to rewrite the history books. It’s time to own our rightful place in the boardrooms of South Africa and while we can’t directly change what’s happening at Davos – we need to commit to ensuring our organisations – start-ups, SMEs, and big corporates alike – are diverse, inclusive and support gender equity,” concludes Durant.
To find out more about Lauren Durant – follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-durant/
Read the full transcript of Ashley Judd’s speech here:
About Lauren Durant
Lauren Durant is an Executive at Isilumko Activate. She’s been with the company since its inception and has contributed significantly to the evolution of the business to one of the market leaders in the activations space. Durant spends much of her time with clients, understanding their needs and assisting in the development of cutting edge activations strategies. Parallel to this, she mentors members of the team to do the same, often lauding the value of co-operation and communication – all of which contributes to the customer-centric culture of the organisation which is built from the heart and soul of its people.
About Isilumko Activate
Isilumko Activate (powered by Studentwise) is a company focused on facilitating creative, integrated one-on-one interactions between a brand and the consumer. With impressive credentials built up over 24 years in the in the industry, this level 1 BBBEE accredited company has a rock-solid reputation that attracts and retains staff that are as passionate about activations as the company’s original founder members.