South Africa’s unemployment statistics are heartbreaking: 33.9% of our workforce is without employment, with 47% of the country’s women of working age remaining economically inactive, compared to 35.6% of men facing the same fate, writes Shivani Ramsaroop, HR Manager at TransUnion’s Global Capability Centre Africa.The country’s women have been getting the raw end of the deal for several reasons, including legacy inequality and the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Add in the complexities of a patriarchal society that expects women to be caregivers to children and elderly relatives, it’s clear that finding a way to climb a career ladder is just another added stress.

Structural issues like historic prejudices and discrimination, gendered behaviours, cultural differences and gender-based pay gaps add even more obstacles in the path of South African women who want to enter the workplace and succeed in employment.

Thankfully, awareness of these issues is increasing, and more companies, like TransUnion, are doing this differently to create jobs where none existed before, and to make them appealing and accessible to women.

The key to unlocking this potential has been our innovative approach to virtual work, which is the founding principle of our Global Capability Centre Africa (GCC Africa), which employed more than 500 people in its first 17 months of existence, 71% of whom are women.

Our associates that work ‘in’ the GCC are each located where it suits them the most – some are in Cape Town, others in Johannesburg, Durban, East London, and across the country. It doesn’t matter where they sit – they’re able to complete their work, including interacting with colleagues across the world – from their location of choice, thanks to the top-class technology and connectivity that TransUnion has provided.

This all means that they can truly achieve the work-life-culture balance that they need, while earning a competitive income.

While we’re immensely proud of how many women are part of the GCC Africa, quotas aren’t always the answer. What’s really needed to bring more women into the workforce, and to nurture them as they move up the ranks, is a shift in culture which encourages more women to strive for more senior roles. We have to be deliberate about giving women the opportunities to reach their full potential.

It starts with something as simple as how job adverts are written. Research has shown that women aren’t attracted to the same job adverts as men. Stereotypically masculine language, like ‘competitive’ and ‘assertive’ is a deterrent to women applicants, while words like ‘collaborative’ and ‘team-based’ are more appealing. Tell your future employees that you provide equal pay (if you don’t, we need to talk!), and highlight your diversity and inclusivity initiatives.

At GCC Africa, we’ve embarked on a comprehensive skills development programme for local youth, and we’re partnering with government to welcome 60 learners every 12 months – with a focus on young women. These interns gain valuable skills, experience, and international exposure, working with colleagues in TransUnion’s businesses across the globe, thanks to our completely virtual working environment. At the end of the 12 months, they are absorbed into GCC Africa to use their skills in full-time employment. Needless to say, many of these young people are women.

Ensuring you have mentoring schemes and leadership programmes in place, especially for young women beginning their careers, is also of great importance, as is having a comprehensive strategy for learning and development at all career stages – and setting funding aside for it too.

The bottom line is that the need to nurture talent, and specifically female talent, is not just something TransUnion talks about. Our job creation story is testament to the investment we have made in creating jobs in South Africa, and the flexible, always-on workforce we have across all our markets.

Our virtual model has enabled us to access even greater talent and diversity, and help more women enter the workforce. I’m immensely proud of what we have achieved in a little under a year and half, and can’t wait to see how GCC Africa will grow – and how its impact will improve the lives of women in South Africa.

Share This