By Tariro Mutizwa, ACMA, CGMA, Regional Vice President at AICPA® & CIMA®
In this new digital era, organisations that prioritise gender diversity and increase the number of women in leadership and boardroom positions show improved financial and nonfinancial performance, according to research from the International Finance Corporation, McKinsey, the World Bank, and other institutions.
Diversified perspectives throughout the boardroom can help businesses better serve their communities and create equitable workplaces for their employees. It is therefore important to ensure that women are well represented in the highest levels of companies. Addressing and removing obstacles to women’s professional growth to improve diversity should thus be a goal for companies throughout Africa.
Kenya stands as an example of the progress made to diversify boardrooms and increase the representation of women, according to KIM Board Diversity & Inclusion Report 2021. The study cites tremendous improvements in gender parity within Kenya’s boardrooms: boardroom diversity has jumped 15 percentage points since 2017, and 36% of Kenyan boardroom positions were held by women in 2021. By comparison, the global average for boardroom positions held by women is 23.3%.
More women serving in leadership positions is certainly a move in the right direction, but International Women’s Day on 8 March reminds us that continual work is needed to remove obstacles and inequities and to ensure women have access to professional and leadership opportunities.
However, a new challenge that could significantly affect women and prove to be a potential hurdle to their entering the boardroom is emerging — digital technologies, such as automation and machine learning, which are greatly altering the workplace.
Mastering digital technology and more through professional development
The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new era of digital technology that isn’t going away anytime soon. Business innovation due to technological advances has not stopped, and digitisation has greatly affected business models and processes.
To remain relevant and be successful in implementing new technologies, organisations need to rely on their employees — which means employee training and development are critical.
Professional development can help provide clarity in the uncertain world of technological advances. Skill redevelopment creates relevancy as the world continues to change. Staying proactive and engaged with emerging digital trends will ensure the recent progress of women in our boardrooms does not slide backwards.
Of course, professional development opportunities aren’t limited to the field of digital technology. Women looking to advance their careers or simply re-enter the workforce after time away can learn all manner of new competencies, refresh old ones, and boost their confidence. Honing and developing new skills today can advance careers, boost salaries, and help women become highly sought-after experts.
Advantages of the CGMA® designation
Women wanting to propel their careers and diversify their skill sets can earn the Chartered Global Management Accountant® (CGMA®) designation through The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants® (CIMA®). This globally recognised qualification indicates proficiency in finance, operations, strategy, and management competencies.
The best way to stay relevant is to learn digital technology through professional development, and the CGMA® designation is built upon a rigorous framework that boosts the relevancy and integrity of the finance professional. In addition to learning in-demand business, leadership, technical, and interpersonal skills, the digital skill sets learnt include data strategy, data analytics, data visualisation, and many more.
Finance professionals add value to an organisation and can influence decision-making efforts — which makes earning the CGMA® designation an excellent step in professional development. And that can be one step closer to leadership positions for women.
Advance to the boardroom with professional development
Although it will take the collective effort of all to remove the obstacles women still face when pursuing leadership positions, professional development can support the goal of diversifying boardrooms by ensuring that women are well-positioned and ready to step into those roles.
Access to career-boosting professional development opportunities, such as the CGMA® designation, will help more women advance in their careers and take their earned seats at boardroom tables.