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Politics Stands In the Way of Female Progression In The Workplace

Politics Stands In the Way of Female Progression In The Workplace

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One of the ways that women can be able to make it into the corporate ladder is if they know how to maneuver in the workplace.

This was according to Ms Christine Sogomo, the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Jumia Kenya, who says that there are a lot of politics in the workplace that can bring someone down.

“There are politics in terms of transition to various roles. A lot that is said is brutal. You get to face a lot of it but you must be able to survive out there. The first lesson that I learnt in my career is that I have to deliver, as a woman, ten times. I have stood on the shoulders of great women,” she says during the event held hours ago.

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Ms Sogomo says that she was the first to set up a Business Unit at Safaricom Limited, the telecommunications company where she worked between 2018 and 2009 in various Senior Management roles, ranging from Customer Experience (2018-205), Retail Support (2015-2013), and Operations, Projects and processes (2013-2011), before joining its competitor, Airtel as Africa Lead in 2018 and a year later in Jumia Kenya.

She further says that she has been able to juggle between work and family by hiring a driver to transport them to and from school.

Ms Sogomo says it is fine to make mistakes as this is what has enabled her to learn, and is important is nurturing a culture for the next C-Suite women.

A 2019 study published by the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and Equileap titled “ The Gender Equality Report In the Workplace”, it observes that out of the 60 companies that are publicly listed, only seven have women in senior management roles.

These include: Ms Nasim Devji of Diamond Trust Bank, Marion Gathoga-Mwangi of BOC Kenya, Dr Diane Karusisi of Bank of Kigali, Surinder Kapila of Stanlib Fahari-REIT and Ms Rebecca Miano of Kengen.

The NSE report while noting that Kenya is the only African country to enjoy such a prestige of having women on the board with a score of 26 percent, the country with the best gender equality score in the world is Australia with a score of 46 percent.

It is followed by European country, France, which has a score of 42 percent.

The Chief Digital Officer at Housing Finance Group ( HF Group), Ms Rose Muturi, says that women have to shake off the perception that they cannot succeed for jobs that they have applied for.

“ The bank has been involved in creating equal employment opportunities for both men and women,” she says

“ I have a career coach who writes my curriculum vitae, does my interviews and knows where my strengths are. That is my take on mentorship. If you do not ask people there is a 100 percent chance that you will never know anything,”she says.

Only this month, Global Compact Network Kenya launched an initiative to mobilize companies to have leadership positions for women, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality, which advocates for females to have leadership roles in their economic spheres by the next decade.

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The movement, however, acknowledges that it will take years before the gender gap is closed.

Adding to this perspective is Ms Bilha Ndirangu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Africa’s Talking, who says that women tend to feel discouraged because they are not in a male-dominated field.

“The stereotype that exists, is that is if women are not engineers, we will not be able to get more respect is wrong. Whichever career that you are in, then rise to the top of your field and the company that yo are in will recognise that,” she says.

Ms Ndirangu has transitioned from having worked at Mitchell Madison Group where she was a Business Analyst between 2008 and 2006; and Senior Project Manager at Dalberg between 2014 and 2008, from where she transitioned to the C.E.O of Africa’s Talking, a technology company of software developers.

” We operate in 18 markets and it has taken us three years to get a license in Tanzania,” she says.

In a 2013 article that was published by Forbes, it notes that there are reasons as to why women as compared to men are unlikely to occupy board positions.

“ These include being able to balance between work and family, a demanding work environment that leads to burnout, a wrong perception that men and women can only fit into certain job types and the marginalization of women in senior management positions,” reads the article.

According to the Founder of Food For Education, the 28 year old Ms Wawira Wanjiru, an organisation that provides food for school going children in Ruiru, she is keen on bringing people on board who have a specific skill set.

“It does not mean that if people have aged, they are wiser but their knowledge is just as important. It is also important for a CEO to learn. I did not know anything when I started. That is what informs my transitioning. I am also learning about firing,” she says.

Another study published by McKinsey and Company titled “Women Matter Africa”, the report observes that companies which tend to have a quarter of women on their boards are likely to have a profitability that is 20 percentage higher than the benchmark that has been set in the industry.

It is a feat considering the difficulties that women have been able to endure in the workplace, as has been advocated in the Beijing conference of 1995 and the 25 percent composition of women in the African Union’s (AU) parliament.

Nevertheless, there has been a difficulty for women when it comes to how they can be able to access opportunities, such as education and finances for their businesses, states Africa Renewal. Banks such as Stanbic in Kenya have recently come out to create a fund for their female customers that is worth Kshs 20 million, though the difficult is yet to be erased.

But this is not the only challenge that women in Africa. Succession laws exclude them from inheriting land because of their gender, yet women play a pivotal role in the economy.

According to the United Nations (AU), African women involved in agriculture earn about 60 percent from their produce, yet they are not likely to have access to markets where they can sell their produce.

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