Companies Should Meaningfully Promote And Secure Women’s Leadership To Ensure Talent Retention And Progressive Workplace Environments

By Dr. Wongiwe Ludidi, DEI & Transformation Lead, CHEP Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) 

Today more than ever, companies find themselves at a critical intersection – to either meaningfully integrate and acknowledge women in leadership roles and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplaces, or bear the consequence of them moving to companies that will. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is no-longer a “nice-to have” slogan in strategic documents – but is becoming a key signifier of the relevance of a particular company in today’s social justice reality. 

It’s no longer enough to merely give women entry into the workplace environment, but moreover, to acknowledge the need to give those with the requisite experience and skills, a seat at management and board levels ensuring that their voices are meaningfully heard and integrated. 

This Women’s Month, the importance of prioritising inclusive workplaces where women leaders are given the room and position to lead, cannot be overstated. 

A recent research report on Women in the Workplace, revealed that women are not only leading the charge for inclusivity in their workplaces, but are “breaking up” with work environments that do not offer it. 

“Women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rates we’ve ever seen – and at higher rates than men in leadership. That could have serious implications for companies. Women are already significantly underrepresented in leadership,” the report authored by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org notes. 

In South Africa, DEI within companies is mandated by law – however to ensure that companies do not treat it simply as a compliance metric, we require more than just surface level talk about it. 

Companies need to conduct serious introspection over whether their vision and mission align with their actions on DEI, and having sound policy and concrete company initiatives that support it, is one way to do this. 

Companies need to walk their talk, and not merely talk. 

This is especially important for industries that have historically been considered “male-dominated,” such as the supply chain industry. 

Technological research and consulting firm, Gartner, conducted its eighth annual Women in Supply Chain Survey between February and March this year, and found that women comprise 41% of the supply chain workforce. This represented a positive increase from 39% in 2022. 

“The advances were particularly prominent at the C-Suite and executive level, where 26% of those roles are now filled by women, an all-time high and up from 19% in 2022,” the report’s author states.

At CHEP, a leader in global supply chain solutions, at least 36% of management roles globally are held by women and the company has reached 45% female representation on its Board – this, according to 2023 figures. 

To ensure that we walk our talk, at CHEP SSA, we are reviving a mentoring and peer support network to help women advance in their careers. The value of mentorship is one that cannot be understated in building safe, inclusive, and respectful workplaces wherein women are given the opportunities necessary to grow and thrive in their positions.  

To this end, as part of our DEI roadmap, CHEP SSA is also establishing an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for women which is dedicated to creating gender balance and success for women throughout the organisation. As one of the world’s most sustainable businesses, our ERGs play an integral part in the company’s DEI initiatives aimed at providing opportunities for deeper understanding and belonging for all – both within the organisation and the communities we operate in. 

This year, CHEP was also honoured to be recognised as a Global Top Employer by the Top Employers Institute, a global certifier recognising excellence in employee conditions. As part of the Brambles Group, CHEP was among only 15 Global Top Employers in 2023 to be recognised for outstanding HR policies and practices worldwide. 

This Women’s Month, it is incumbent on companies to become active allies to the cause of transformation through DEI. It is not just up to women to invest their time and efforts in making their workplaces effective in fostering diversity, equity, or inclusion. These are rights that everyone in the workplace should promote and uphold.

True DEI, particularly for women in leadership, requires industry-wide effort and allyship. Women are ambitious and skilled, and companies that recognise this and promote women’s leadership have more of a chance to not only retain, but secure future female talent for their organisations. 

At CHEP, we have proudly embraced a pioneering role in championing women’s advancement in the business world. Our commitment extends beyond mere words, as we actively acknowledge and nurture women’s leadership. In doing so, we achieve more than just talent retention; we construct the bedrock of a future marked by progress and equity. By celebrating and promoting women’s leadership, we lay the cornerstone of a future where progress is universal, and equality is the compass guiding our journey. 

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