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Upping the ante on gender diversity

15 March 2018Lindiwe Miyambu, African Bank
Lindiwe Miyambu, African Bank’s Group Executive: Human Capital.

Lindiwe Miyambu, African Bank’s Group Executive: Human Capital.

Basani Maluleke.

Basani Maluleke.

Female empowerment and gender diversity has taken centre stage globally this year with a renewed focus on the need for gender diversity in all sectors of society.

“Diversity in the workplace creates more robust companies by bringing about greater innovation to increase revenue, manage costs and mitigate risk,” says Basani Maluleke, who is earmarked to take over the CEO hotseat from Brian Riley at Africa Bank in April this year.

“By simply having more women in the boardroom who contribute to our strategy, vision, operations, etc. we automatically create a more inclusive culture as these are traditionally voices that are absent from many boardrooms,” says Maluleke.

She highlights that since the launch of the new African Bank on 4 April 2016, the bank has been “unrelenting in driving gender equity and inclusivity” and hopes that in her new role at African Bank she will further amplify the voices of women and other under-represented groups to further entrench the development of an inclusive culture. “We are already slightly ahead of the curve with female employees representing 65.6% of our total workforce,” she says.

Lindiwe Miyambu, African Bank’s Group Executive: Human Capital, who has played a critical role in introducing and retaining great talent at the bank says that there needs to be a conscious and deliberate effort by companies to look for women leaders, particularly when it comes to succession planning where gender needs to be one of the key drivers.

When it comes to talent retention, Miyambu says retention is all about culture and being able to work through issues. “We believe specific programmes should be implemented within organisations to retain and drive talent. “At African Bank for example we’ve introduced executive coaching and programmes like Women in Conversation and Leaders in Heels which all promote gender diversity.”

As part of its corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives, the bank also took 11 young women learners under its wing in 2016 for a 24-month mentorship programme, helping them to achieve their matric certificate and gain entrance to their universities of choice.

“We will continue to support these young women this year by providing career experience as they work for African Bank part-time during their studies,” says Miyambu.

According to Miyambu, they will be assisted with payment of registration fees, bursary and National Student Financial Aid Scheme applications, groceries, data, toiletries and more.

Recognising the importance of education in furthering diversity in the financial services sector, Miyambu encourages more organisations to engage with both industry and higher education institutions in an effort to support the development of the sector. “Developing inter-SETA partnerships, partnerships with other public higher education institutions and partnerships across the African continent and overseas, is critical to fast tracking diversity,” she says.

“There is no doubt that there is still a gap between male and female employees in the banking sector in terms of educational qualifications, which can be attributed to history, family responsibilities, access to funding and a host of other factors,” says Miyambu.

Miyambu says women need to realise that education will always be just as important as experience. “It’s therefore so important for women to push to upskill themselves and for organisations to start playing more of a decisive role in enabling this.”

“Women need to push themselves to learn no matter how long it takes and make a conscious effort to network and volunteer themselves if necessary to do things differently. We know women sometimes have a tendency to play it too safe. And, last but not least, women need to believe more in themselves. They need to stop undermining their value in the workplace - it is after all mostly the voices in our heads that we need to conquer,” concludes Miyambu.

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