According to Grant Thornton International Ltd.’s annual Women in Business report, Botswana businesses have taken two steps forward on women in leadership, with the percentage of businesses that have at least one woman on the senior management team increasing from 73% in 2017 to 78% in 2018 (globally 66% in 2017 to 75% in 2018). The proportion of senior management team that comprises of women has also increased from 31% in 2017 to 33% in 2018. On its own the proportion increase seems small, however fairs better than the global change which saw a decrease of from 25% in 2017 to 24% in 2018.

  • 33% of Botswana businesses surveyed have women in senior management roles (more-thandoubling from 16% in 2015 to 33% in 2018), higher than global average of 24% and African average of 30%
  • “Enhancing company performance” is one of the main driver for Botswana businesses surveyed, to introduce gender equality policies and practices
  • 68% of Botswana businesses surveyed would like Government to do more to address the issue of gender inequality in business leadership at a legislative level

According to Grant Thornton International Ltd.’s annual Women in Business report, Botswana businesses have taken two steps forward on women in leadership, with the percentage of businesses that have at least one woman on the senior management team increasing from 73% in 2017 to 78% in 2018 (globally 66% in 2017 to 75% in 2018).

The proportion of senior management team that comprises of women has also increased from 31% in 2017 to 33% in 2018. On its own the proportion increase seems small, however fairs better than the global change which saw a decrease of from 25% in 2017 to 24% in 2018.

Published to coincide with International Women’s Day 2018, which calls on all to #PressforProgress, the research reveals that introducing policies alone is not enough to drive real progress. A wider culture of inclusion championed from the top is needed to create change.

The progress on the number of businesses with women in senior management has primarily been driven by emerging economies such as Africa (where 89% of businesses have at least one woman in senior management) and Eastern Europe (87%), while Latin America has seen the biggest increase (from 52% to 65%). But there has also been a significant increase in developed regions such as North America (from 69% to 81%) and the European Union (from 64% to 73%). Emerging economies also continue to see the highest proportion of women in senior roles, including Eastern Europe (36%), Latin America (30%) and Africa (30%).

Anjana Suresh, Partner in charge of Corporate Services at Grant Thornton Botswana, comments: “There is compelling evidence of the link between gender diversity in leadership and commercial success. Women are inherently resilient, empathetic, determined and committed. They have an exceptional ability to manage conflict and seamlessly adapt to change. Organisations that embrace gender diversity at senior management level are able to recruit and retain a diverse workforce and customer base. Engaging female representation at board level can bring unique attributes to the organisation. While it is pleasing to note that the percentage of businesses with representation of women in senior roles has considerably increased, the proportion of women in senior management teams has increased only marginally. Going forward, organisations and business leaders should focus on increasing the number of female leaders at board level. Women themselves should continue to upskill their technical, communication and leadership skills, be confident and ensure that their voice is heard in the boardroom.”

Policy alone is not driving progress

Grant Thornton’s report investigates the role of both business and government policy in bringing about change. The data show gender equality policies are abundant and widespread, with 81% of businesses adopting equal pay for men and women performing the same roles, and 71% implementing non-discrimination policies for recruitment. Measures that support working parents are also popular among businesses, including paid parental leave (59% globally, 60% in Botswana), flexible hours (57% globally, 54% in Botswana) and part-time working (54% globally, 26% in Botswana).

Government is viewed to have a significant role in issues surrounding gender diversity, with 68% of Botswana businesses believing that Government and business need to work collaboratively in addressing the issue of gender inequality in business leadership. Furthermore, 68% of businesses in Botswana would like Government to do more to address the issue of gender inequality in business leadership at a legislative level. However, there is no clear correlation between which, and how many, policies businesses have in place and the gender diversity of their senior management teams. No single policy seems to drive gender diversity, and the regions in which businesses have most policies in place – Africa, the EU and North America – demonstrate very different levels of gender diversity in business leadership.

Globally and within the African context, companies say they are motivated to introduce gender equality policies primarily to attract and keep employees (65% globally, 62% in Africa, 49% in Botswana) and to live up to organisational values (65% globally, 67% in Africa, 51% in Botswana). In the local context however, “enhancing company performance” leads at 66% (55% globally, 58% in Africa) as the biggest motivation to introduce gender equality policies.

Recruitment and retention are strategic priorities for businesses, and gender equality in leadership has become a core element of company branding. However, globally businesses say the barriers to introducing policies include the complexity of translating good intentions into practice (22%) and stereotypes about gender roles (21%), while in Botswana the leading barriers include stereotypes about gender roles (45%) and the cost of implementation (43%).

Monica Munjanja, Manager in the Audit Assurance team of Grant Thornton Botswana adds: “Achieving gender diversity is important for businesses because it improves the country's overall economic performance by encouraging different ways of thinking and opening up new opportunities for growth. Businesses in Botswana have implemented
many gender equality policies, however policies on their own cannot bring about change. What brings about change is acceptance and acknowledgement of the economic benefits of gender diversity at top leadership level, and educating society to overcome stereotypes about gender roles.”

Increasing gender diversity

We have been investigating the progress of women in business around the globe for 14 years, exploring how business leaders think and feel, and outlining practical steps that can create change. This year we present 10 recommendations for business leaders to consider, to facilitate increased gender diversity. The first is a foundational step, then three relate to leadership, three to policy and three to culture.

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  1. Champion the cause: To create change, senior leaders need to take the issue seriously and lead from the top.
  2. Make diversity and inclusion a core value: Organisational values drive behaviour, so it’s important that the whole business is signed up to diversity and inclusion.
  3. Set goals: Making gender diversity a core value is not enough in itself; business leaders should set clear goals by which they will measure progress.
  4. Link progress to pay: What gets measured gets managed, so business leaders should make diversity and inclusion goals part of the leadership team’s compensation packages to encourage change.
  5. Avoid tokenism: Simply putting one woman on the senior management team is not enough to ensure a range of voices is heard so the business can reap the rewards of diversity.
  6. Reduce ‘mini me’ recruitment and promotion: Unconscious bias training can help people at all levels of the business to avoid the temptation to hire and promote employees who look, speak and think in the same way.
  7. Introduce sponsorship: Sponsorship can have a significantly greater impact on gender diversity in leadership than simple mentoring schemes.
  8. Investigate the benefits: Evidence of the commercial gains brought by gender diversity will help convince sceptics of the need for change and provide justification for investment in new initiatives.
  9. Be comfortable with discomfort: Creating an inclusive business environment that supports gender diversity in leadership will not be easy, so leaders need to be in it for the long term.
  10. Share your story: Business leaders who are open about what is driving change in their own companies can encourage others and help them overcome the complexity of turning theory into action.

For Grant Thornton’s full “Women in Business 2018 report and findings, please visit
https://www.grantthornton.global/en/insights/women-in-business-2018/