Women are capable: There are about 20 heads of state who are women. In Kenya, the number of County Governors who are women is on the rise. A growing number of business leaders of Fortune 500 companies are women. Fred Gituku, Human Resources Manager at Vivo Energy, shared these statistics with the participants of the 2017 Women in Energy Awards and Conference to share a deeply held belief that women are capable of rising to the top.
A study in the US showed that every 30% of women in an organization may represent up to 15% profitability. Diversity is useful because dynamics changes when women are around. Empirical data shows that the different ways in which women approach risk, demonstrate empathy among many other attributes can have a positive impact to the organization.
Women face barriers: Women face discrimination and the ‘kitchen syndrome’ where it is the cultural norm for women to prepare food. What do our cultural norms say about women? To combat gender discrimination, we must step down from statistics to self. We need to ask, ‘How would I feel if it was my mother or daughter who was denied the position when she had merit?’
Women can rise: Merit, ideas and purpose do not have gender. Collaboration will produce more fruit than fighting. Share your story because it can inspire others. Have a mentor. Read. Use your networks to build the connections and relationships that will help you in the future. Get a professional coach, who can raise your self-awareness and help you recognize how you interact with your surroundings.
There are some who have reservations about legislating merit, as mandated by the Constitution of 2010. This is by no means an attempt to further discriminate against women. As a retired professional athlete who competed for Kenya, Mr. Gituku knows in international games organizers never look for regional representation. The competition is by always merit. However, if we must legislate merit, we must avoid tokenism. A board member who barely speaks will give the impression of being a token leading the rest to question his or her ability which detracts from merit. Women should be knowledgeable that people may see value and merit and understand that only an opportunity has been provided.