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Sub-Saharan Africa records more gender parity in workforce, Mercer reports says

By Adaku Onyenucheya
19 August 2020   |   4:47 pm
Research has shown that more organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa are recording advance gender parity in workforce by appointing women in key leadership positions.

CEO of Mercer Tamara Parker Photo:

Research has shown that more organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa are recording advance gender parity in workforce by appointing women in key leadership positions.

The report also disclosed that more women are becoming Chief Executive Officers, joining corporate boards and appointed to high-level ministerial positions in said governments.

According to Mercer’s When Women Thrive 2020, Sub-Saharan Africa Report, key areas such as advancing and retaining female employees
have shown some progress over the past few years.

Mercer’s research finds that women in about 94 percent of organisations in sub-Saharan Africa have equal access to roles that lead to advancement into leadership positions, which is significantly higher than the global average of 79 percent.

Chief Executive Officer, Mercer South Africa, Tamara Parker explained: “In our findings, 88 percent of respondents in this region report that their organisations are already focused on improving diversity and inclusion. This is an incredibly positive sign that backs up progress we have seen in a few countries such as Rwanda,
South Africa and Ethiopia.

“Another positive aspect advancing workforce gender parity is equal access to opportunities – 56 percent have talent management practices
in place for high-potential women, compared to 35 percent globally.

Additionally, 78 percent of organisations say women are equally likely as men to move across business units and/or geographies, as compared
to the global average of 71 percent.”

With the rising pressure to address areas where organisations appear to fall short, Mercer highlights that 82 percent of respondents
said pay equity is part of their organisation’s compensation philosophy or strategy, as compared to 74 percent globally.

“Moreover, 78 percent of organisations have a team formally responsible for conducting pay equity analysis compared to 72% globally,” the report added.

Speaking on direct involvement in diversity and inclusion initiatives and programs, Parker said: “In organisations where a diverse workforce and inclusive culture is flourishing, senior leaders and board members play an important role,” adding “Senior executives
in sub-Saharan Africa are helping to support cultural transformation by sponsoring meetings, publicly positioning diversity and inclusion
as a business imperative and participating as members of internal diversity councils, that is, 48 percent in sub-Saharan Africa versus
43 percent globally.”

Meanwhile, Parker said managers in Sub-Saharan Africa are significantly less involved in supporting D&I efforts than senior executives, which is a major barrier (and missed opportunity) to achieving progress.

“For instance, the figure for middle managers is 65 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, outpacing the global average of 53 percent.

A critical part of the solution involves driving culture and tone from the top, a feat that can only be achieved by embracing a deep
leadership commitment to taking action and engaging employees,” she added.