Day one of the Standard Bank Top Women Conference took place today at the Galleria in Sandton. The jam-packed event was aimed at empowering women in their respective fields through realistic conversations.
Talking points from the event ranged from maternity leave policies, equal pay in the workplace and safe abortions for women.
Chief Executive at Standard Bank, Sim Tshabalala, joined virtually and delivered a powerful keynote address mentioning the importance of gender equality and how it ends up fostering inclusion. On the topic of inclusion, Tshabalala said about 35% of their executive management are women and that their aim is to get that number all the way up to 50/50 as soon as possible.
He touched on the importance of hosting such a powerful event.
“This conference offers exceptional speakers. Women tend to be less impulsive; they are more conscientious than men. Recognizing women is an important contribution to the way our government functions,” he said.
For the opening keynote address, Alicia Eggington, who is the Vice President and General Manager at multinational consumer goods corporation Procter and Gamble (P&G), spoke about the challenges faced by the girl child.
The company that reaches over five million consumers daily, is doing work that is aimed at ensuring that the girl child doesn’t miss school because of her period.
“I am proud to say that so much of the work we do at P&G is really touching lives. In South Africa alone, one in three girls misses school because she doesn’t have access to basic hygiene.”
Eggington said it was important for companies to not only to say they will be part of the change but to make sure that they become agents of change.
Speaking of change, Dr David Masondo was one of the speakers today who spoke about being a driving force for change, especially for women as they remain a marginalized group in the workplace.
“The transformation in the workplace around women will not happen when we talk about it without implementing any action. We need to promote gender issues and gender equality by investing in enterprises that promote workplace inclusion. We need more education around gender equality as it should be taught in societies.”
South African singer and songwriter, Yvonne Chaka Chaka was in attendance and said the marginalization of women was manmade.
“It hurts that women still earn less than men for the same jobs. We need to ensure that we are women who can be placed in top positions because we can do the jobs just as well as the men can, if not better. The industry that I am in is male dominated.”
Her parting point was for change to begin at home.
“A man should not look at a woman as an object of desire, but as an equal in the boardroom. The change begins at home.”