Women have a role to play in building the South African and African economy, and much can be gained by leveraging women leaders’ traits for the growth of others and organisations, speakers said during a webinar hosted by multinational food company Mondelēz International on August 17.
Mondelēz West Africa MD Yimika Adeboye said women in leadership should aim firstly to do their job well and further the organisation, rather than their gender being the focal point of their achievements.
She emphasised that the role of leaders should be to empower others, that is, to lead in a way that enables others to also succeed and for the team to succeed.
Reflecting on learnings from the pandemic, Adeboye said that organisations have had to ensure they are able to carry on despite all the bottlenecks. Flexibility was, therefore, important.
She further noted that compassionate leadership was essential, as people had moved to different working arrangements and were going through very difficult times. This required leaders to be understanding and accommodate people’s requirements and needs.
Adeboye emphasised that women as leaders must lead with both their heads and their hearts; and must ensure that their vision, purpose and mission was clearly understood so that it could be followed.
Mondelēz sub-Saharan Africa marketing director Nadia Mohamed, meanwhile, mentioned that women in leadership very often overlooked the need to invest in themselves and that the pandemic had exacerbated the requirement for such investment.
Therefore, she emphasised the importance of having mentorship programmes or sponsors, to ensure that women were properly trained and advised in this regard.
Mohamed highlighted two particular challenges that women in leadership faced as the notion of an internal glass ceiling and fear.
She emphasised that women must ensure their voices are heard and, secondly, they have an obligation to pull as many women up as possible to ensure that more voices are represented.
Marketing agency Zam’s Hive CEO Zamile Mzizi paid tribute to Mondelēz’s enterprise development programme, saying it had taught her skills in a different way.
She said the programme was an example of a large corporation showing interest in entrepreneurs and, specifically, asking them what they want out of the enterprise development.
Mondelēz Cadbury Dairy Milk brand manager Alanta Moodley highlighted Mondelēz’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, noting that, while other companies used the pandemic as an excuse to avoid this, the company had pushed women leadership further and brought meaningful transformation to the fore.
She also emphasised that women in leadership had a responsibility to empower more people to reach their potential.