There are 3 hallmarks for women being fairly represented in a business, namely, representation, role type, and decision making. Being present in the room doesn’t amount to much if you don’t have equal weighting in decisions driving the business forward. ROAM Africa has hit the trifecta of not only treating women fairly, but equitably.
For decades women have fought for equal rights in the workplace and in many instances, this remains a challenge. According to Catalist, 87% of global mid-market companies have at least one woman in a senior management role. In 2020, 62% of ROAM Africa’s senior managers are female leaders.
This involves three schools of thought. Firstly, the awareness of hiring managers and decision makers of biased societal influences in perceived competence of men vs women. Secondly, when faced with selecting senior leaders, viewing their inherent capabilities, background, and potential for impact above perceptions of gender. Lastly, we embrace the research by the World Economic Forum amongst others that states diverse teams enable more agile business, accelerated growth, and a better bottom line.
In a time where representation is increasing in organisations worldwide, the roles that women play in these businesses come into the fore. Women can often be pigeonholed into softer skilled roles suited to communication and human relations or provided with what HBR terms “office housework”. This also comes at a time in 2020 where in a free market, men still hold 90% of C-level executive roles according to Catalyst. ROAM sees this as an opportunity to further our growth above the global norms with women in key positions such as CEO, managing director, group head of operations, group head of HR, financial controllers, amongst others. We have women in more analytical-heavy roles than men in ROAM. We view this with an eye for PEW Research Centre’s findings with women being stronger in key areas of business such as 34% better at developing compromises, 25% more likely to stand up for their beliefs, and 30% more likely to provide fair pay and benefits. Equity at ROAM is choosing the right candidate for the right position, which includes the soft skills which often pigeonhole women as a strategic advantage.
The last piece of the pyramid for equity for women in business is pushing past figure-head type roles on executive committees. This is where women have a tangible and impactful role in decision making and business steering. Our management team comprises more than half of it being women (4 out of 7 members), each with pivotal roles in directing our business strategy and execution. We achieve a dynamic and strong management team cohesion because we prioritise the insight and business opinions of each management member equally. Enabling effective leadership requires concerted effort from all parties to co-create an environment of shared accountability and to mould this as a new reality for future generations of leaders.
But for us, there is more. Gender equity is part of ROAM Africa’s core mission: connecting Africans to opportunities. If we consider ourselves to be innovators on the African continent, to truly connect to more democratic access to opportunities, this must include gender equality in our workforce.
ROAM Africa was not built by allocating tick boxes for gender equality. We have grown because we looked beyond the social construct of gender to unlock the capabilities of diverse thinking not just across gender lines but across culture, experience, industry, and other factors. It’s an ongoing journey in creating more than a fair workplace, rather an equitable one that has long-lasting impacts on the markets we operate in and our industry at large.
Want to read more?
Catalyst, “Women in Management”
World Economic Forum, “The business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming”
The Atlantic, “The more gender equality, the fewer women in STEM”
Harvard Business Review, “Office housework gets in women’s way”