Empowering women not charity‚ but good for business and profits‚ says Graca Machel
TMG Digital | 2017-05-16 18:53:12.0
“Women must be allowed to assume positions where they can unleash their transformational power in business and society. There’s still an enduring view that women have a collateral and auxiliary role‚ rather than reflecting the 52% of the society which they make up‚” Machel said. File photo
Image by: SIPHIWE SIBEKO
Companies should learn that it is for their own benefit to empower women and ensure that they move into leadership positions in businesses‚ the late Nelson Mandela’s widow‚ Graca Machel‚ said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the Trialogue Business in Society Conference in Johannesburg‚ Machel said empowering woman is a business case.
“Bringing women into the formal economy‚ making them grow within our companies up to leadership roles is not charity. It is a business case. It is to improve how your companies are going to perform‚ how they are going to be profitable and how you are going to have a better working environment if you do so.
“It is in the interest of companies first‚ the interest of our nation but of course at the end‚ the interest of women’s rights. I would suggest‚ of course that each one of you as companies look inside and say are we paying the same to women and men. This is a global issue. There is no country which can say it has resolved the issue of equal pay‚” Machel told the business community.
She also challenged business leaders to make a concerted effort to ensure women are empowered in their businesses.
“I’ll leave you today with a challenge to formulate ways in which you can play a greater role in your spheres of influence and make sure that women’s voices are heard. Ensure that they have a seat at the decision making table and they are enabled to participate fully in the economy.”
The Trialogue is aimed at strengthening collaborative partnerships between business‚ civil society and government.
“Women must be allowed to assume positions where they can unleash their transformational power in business and society. There’s still an enduring view that women have a collateral and auxiliary role‚ rather than reflecting the 52% of the society which they make up‚” Machel said.
She referred to the McKinsey Global Institute report titled Women Matter Africa‚ which found that African companies with a greater share of women on their boards of directors and executive committees perform better than their male-dominated counterparts.
Specifically‚ the earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margin of companies with at least 25% of women on their boards was on average 20% higher than the industry average.
The report also found that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 simply by advancing women’s equality.
Machel added: “I’m no mathematician‚ but the calculation is simple: without women participating in the formal economy‚ our economies do not grow to the extent they could or need to grow. There are untold benefits for our continent should we really begin to seriously invest in our female employees and women entrepreneurs.”