Women in management positions: An opportunity in Ghana and globally

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Only around a quarter of all management positions are filled by women globally. At 21 percent, Germany is even well below this figure. Factors such as poor compatibility of family and career, stereotypical thinking or patriarchal structures make it difficult for women to step into a management position. Although the number of female managers is tending to rise worldwide, there is still plenty of room for improvement in terms of equal rights in the working world.

Female executives bring a wealth of ideas to the world of work. There is an immense potential of new, innovative ideas, concepts and work strategies in gender equality that has not been sufficiently utilised so far. In order to be able to benefit from this potential, it is important to keep insisting on equal rights in the working world in order to bring about structural change. “Women do play a better leadership role than you the men so bring the women on,” says Brigitte Dzogbenuku from the PPP party in Ghana. Although this statement was provocatively exaggerated, it does draw attention to the issue of gender equality in working life. This blog post focuses on gender equality in relation to leadership positions in general and then highlights inspiring examples from Ghana.

Women in management positions: What is the situation worldwide?

All over the world, both discriminatory laws and lack of measures prevent women from reaching their full potential. They prevent financial independence or the possibility to pursue a career. On average, women enjoy only three quarters of the labor rights of men. Moreover, figures such as the gender pay gap repeatedly highlight the income gap between women and men. The Gender Pay Gap describes the difference between the average gross hourly earnings (without special payments) of women in relation to the gross hourly earnings of men. In Germany, this has remained constant at around 20 percent in recent years. Especially in patriarchal societies, these differences in income between men and women are due to general gender stereotypes. The so-called backlash effect, for example, describes the phenomenon that ambitious women are denied female characteristics. The problem here is that women always violate either the stereotype of gender role or that of leadership role.

Because of this persistent discrimination, the UN’s Agenda 2030, entitled “Transforming our World”, has formulated the fifth global goal for sustainable development, gender equality and self-determination for all women and girls. It establishes the end of all discrimination against women and girls as a fundamental human right and sees this as a prerequisite for a sustainable future. The empowerment of women and girls has been proven to contribute to economic growth and development and therefor represents a win-win situation for all.

Women in leadership positions in Ghana and Germany – a comparison

Women play a very important role in the development of a country. In most West African countries, they contribute significantly to the flourishing of the economy through trade in goods and the sale of agricultural products. Nevertheless, in Ghana, as in many regions of the world, women continue to face discrimination in many areas of a political, economic and social nature. Although women constitute the majority in Ghana’s working world, they are still underpaid and receive little recognition. Lack of connections and support are also reasons that prevent them from advancing to leadership positions.

In Germany, equal rights for men and women are enshrined in Article 3 of the Grundgesetz: “Men and women have equal rights. The state promotes the actual implementation of equal rights for women and men and works towards the elimination of existing disadvantages”. Nevertheless, only 21 percent of management positions in Germany are occupied by women. The introduction of a 30 percent quota for women on the supervisory boards of listed and parity co-determined companies in 2016 did not change this in the majority of management positions.

Gender diversity at fairafric

fairafric believes in the potential of women’s power and benefits additionally from it. Men and women are of course paid and treated equally. Through a gender-appropriate language in the workplace, women should be made visible in all areas. The fairafric team in Germany consists of over 50 percent women, many of them also hold management positions. In the Ghana team, too, female employees can pursue their career and develop their potential. After all, a quarter of our Ghanaian management staff is female. A positive example is our employee and former chocolate factory intern Ann, who has already come a little closer to her dream of opening her own chocolate production. “I had mentioned that I would like to open my own chocolate factory”, she reports in an interview and continues: “…so I have the possibility to work with production machines, so I think that means one step to reach my dream!” This example shows the enthusiasm with which many young women in Ghana want to achieve their career goals – despite poorer starting conditions.

Inspirations from Ghana

Kimberley and Priscilla Addison from Ghana are among these inspiring women. With their start-up ’57 Chocolate, they themselves started the production of their chocolate of the same name, focusing on the luxury chocolate sector in Ghana. Such women entrepreneurs who really understand the power of the entrepreneurial value chain in their countries are incredibly valuable. At present the two of them employ ten employees. Most of them are young women and Kimberley and Priscilla hope to expand their team as the company grows.

While the two sisters as young entrepreneurs stand up for equal rights for both men and women, radio and TV presenter Nana Akosua Hanson combines pop culture with feminism in her programs. Nana expresses what no one else speaks out. She is loud, drinks, smokes and is now heard beyond the borders of Ghana. She is a strong voice in the #metoo movement in Ghana and all of Africa.

These examples show Ghanaian women in the pioneering role, who take the cause of gender equality into their own hands and want to achieve this from within society. This is a crucial approach, because it has not yet been shown that gender equality can be enforced by law or development goals.