Ratio of women in business leadership drops

Boakgomo- Ntakhwana
Boakgomo- Ntakhwana

The percentage of business leadership roles held by women in Botswana has fallen sharply from 32 percent in 2014 to 16 percent this year, a survey conducted by Grant Thornton International has revealed.

Findings from the survey concluded that women in Africa were more likely to be blocked from reaching business leadership positions because of gender bias. The report further revealed that there had been an astounding rise in the number of Botswana businesses that reported to have no women in senior management positions, form 19 percent last year to 45 percent in 2015. The Africa average of this statistic stands at 23 percent.

Among some of the prominent women in business leadership positions in Botswana include Bank of Botswana governor Linah Mohohlo, chief Executive Officer of National Development bank Lorato Morapedi and Catherine Lesetedi-Letegele of Botswana Life Insurance Limited.

High profile women that have left their jobs in the recent past include former FNBB CEO Lorato Boakgomo-Ntakhwana, BDC managing director Maria Nthebolan and Bifm CEO Tiny Kgatlwane. On the other hand, from the 22 listed domestic companies on the Botswana Stock Exchange, only one firm, Barclays Bank is headed by a woman.

When asked about perceived barriers to women progressing, 59 percent of female respondents in Botswana said they saw no barriers to women advancing into senior positions, a proportion much bigger than the South African and African average, where only 26 percent and 21 percent of females reported no barriers to women progressing into senior roles. While majority of women in Botswana did not perceive that barriers to women progression exist, survey data specifies that the remaining women indicated family obligations, lack of female candidates putting themselves forward for promotion, insufficient support structures for women and gender bias were existent barriers.

Grant Thornton principal human resources manager, Pushpa Ramesh said barriers to women progressing were recognised as a significant problem across Africa. “They usually work hard at the beginning of their career, but slack as they move towards senior positions. It becomes extremely hard on women when they have progression challenges in the work place after they have invested energy and effort in balancing the home front amicably,” he said.

Globally, 22 percent of senior roles are held by women, slightly up from 19 percent in 2004, but down from 24 percent last year, highlighting broad stagnation. To ensure equal opportunities for the number of women on executive boards of large listed companies, Botswana has reported a high percentage, 93 percent of respondents in support of the introduction of quotas. The report also recommended that government should mandate quotas for women who sit on boards, facilitate shared parental leave, as well as build the necessary infrastructure. “Businesses should make a top-level commitment to support women leaders, design leadership positions to be more attractive and invest in mentoring and sponsorship programmes,” read the statement.

Women were also urged to put their hands up for stretch assignments, push themselves out of their comfort zones as well as challenge their organisations to tackle gender bias, while society is urged to end the stigmatisation of men who share childcare.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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