WomenWork IWD 2024 Summary Report: Inspire Inclusion for progress

WomenWork IWD 2024 Summary Report: Inspire Inclusion for progress

The theme chosen by the UN for this year’s International Women’s Day emphasizes the importance of investing in women for economic growth and equality by inspiring inclusivity. It highlights the significant impact that investing in women can have on economic outcomes, and fostering a more equitable society. It is clear that investing in women can be a catalyst for progress and may be the most effective way to garner attention and support.

At WomenWork, inclusion is woven into our DNA by actively demonstrating through our work commitment to women and our workforce. Given the roles we play in helping thousands of African women to build digital skills, empower economically, and create access to finance gaps in Africa. We know that – to do our absolute best – we must build a community that reflects the women we serve and thrives in part because every person can bring their whole self to work to do their best work. Our vibrant, diverse culture and environment of inclusion is one of our ultimate highs.

To better understand the current state of women in our community and where opportunities exist for both women and WomenWork, we surveyed 65 women from the WomenWork community who responded to them in February 2024.

Our Insider Snapshot showed

  • 32.31% of women (44 out of 65) did not feel included in their current organization
  • 72.31% of women (47 out of 65) have encountered some barriers/ obstacles that have hindered their inclusion in certain environments
  • 66.15% of women (43 out of 65) highly believe it’s important to have a sense of belonging and inclusion in their workplace and business

Changes and improvements women would like to see in the work environment

Changes and improvements women would like to see in the work environment
Source: WomenWork Network Survey, Zoho 2024

Amplifying Voices for Inclusive Opportunities

Our inaugral International Women’s Day webinar on embracing inclusion was a thought-provoking and inspiring event that shed light on the importance of creating a more inclusive environment for women in leadership roles. Our invited panelists Dr. Angela Gichaga, Salome Ayugi, Hawa Kombian, and Dorcas Nderuti discussed various aspects of inclusion and how it can benefit women in the workplace and business.

One of the key points discussed was what inclusion means to women leaders. It was emphasized that inclusion goes beyond just having diversity in the workplace, but also creating an environment where women feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and ideas. Inclusion means providing equal opportunities for women to advance in their careers and take on leadership roles without facing discrimination or bias.

The panel also touched on the role of policies that companies can create to encourage women to take up opportunities for leadership programs. Salome Ayugi suggested that companies should implement policies that promote gender equality, such as mentorship programs, leadership training, flexible work arrangements, salary transparency as well as the language by which these opportunities are communicated to women. By creating a supportive and inclusive culture, companies can empower women to pursue leadership positions and thrive in their careers.

Furthermore, the discussion also focused on what organizations can start doing to increase leadership positions for women. Hawa suggested that companies should actively seek out and promote women for leadership roles, as well as provide them with the necessary resources, and invest in their mindset, beliefs, and support to succeed in their roles. Additionally, organizations should address unconscious bias and systemic barriers that may hinder women from advancing in their careers.

By creating a more inclusive environment and implementing policies that support gender equality, organizations can help women reach their full potential and contribute to the success of their organizations and their businesses. Organizations need to take proactive steps to increase leadership positions for women and create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Key Takeaways

Inclusion is not just about representation, but about creating a culture where everyone feels valued and respected. It is about recognizing and celebrating the unique perspectives and contributions that each individual both women and men brings to the table. Inclusion is not just a buzzword or a box to be checked off, but a fundamental principle that should be ingrained in the fabric of every organization.

  • To truly promote inclusion, we must first address the biases and barriers that prevent women from fully participating and thriving in the workplace. This means actively working to dismantle systemic inequalities and creating opportunities for women to advance and succeed. It means creating a level playing field where everyone has an equal chance to excel, regardless of their gender.
  • Organizations can take concrete steps to promote inclusion and diversity. One way is to create an inclusive organizational leadership program that specifically targets and supports women in leadership roles. This program can provide mentorship, training, and resources to help women develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed in leadership positions.
  • It is also important to evaluate and address any disparities that may exist within the organization, such as a lack of opportunities for advancement, or a hostile work environment. By ensuring transparency in pay and promotions, providing flexible work options, and promoting a culture of respect and inclusion, organizations can create a more equitable and welcoming environment for women.
  • Highlighting women in senior leadership positions is another important step in promoting inclusion. By showcasing successful female leaders and their achievements, organizations can inspire other women to aspire to leadership roles and demonstrate that it is possible to break through the glass ceiling.
  • Finally, creating a dedicated budget for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives is essential to ensuring that these goals are prioritized and supported within the organization. By investing in diversity and inclusion efforts, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all employees.

Inclusion is not just a goal to strive for, but a necessity for creating a truly diverse and thriving organization. By taking intentional action to promote inclusion and address disparities, we can create a more equitable and welcoming workplace for everyone.

By: Esther. C.A. Sarfo
Programs & Partnerships