I stand by my convictions. Women should not sit on boards. They should be standing at the boardroom table doing what they do best – leading, listening, empowering and engaging. They need to play an active, not a passive role in leadership, at the highest level. So, what’s stopping them?
Empowering women at the executive level is not a “women’s issue” or even a matter of equality, it’s an economic one. A strong, economically-viable country depends on the elevation and integration of women at the decision-making level. If we want our companies or country to be globally competitive, we need to stop seeing women in the boardroom as props and start engaging their skills so they can build relationships, engage clients and stand accountable as subject matter experts.
So why are we, as women, afraid to position ourselves as subject matter experts in our niche fields? Why do we not recognise and value our expertise around relationship building and client engagement? What are companies if not a network of people built around relationships that add value to their products and clients!
Let me qualify my words with actions. As the founder and CEO of a 100% Black owned company, led by a female entrepreneur, I recognise that empowerment doesn’t start and end with my company, but rather extends into the company we keep. That is why I, Jazz, the owner of Zenzele took the bold step to be part of a vibrant organisation that promotes women in business at a global level: WeConnect International is a global network that connects women-owned businesses around the world. Their mission is aligned to Zenzele’s own – to help women-owned businesses succeed across the global value chain by affording them the same opportunities as their male counterparts, namely to design and implement business solutions that create wealth and ensure the sustainable prosperity of their communities.
Zenzele is proud to be part of this network of international women-owned businesses which continues to support the development of female talent in South Africa. But pride, without action, is no better than a logo on your signature or company website. As an active member of this community, Zenzele isn’t sitting around the table, rubber stamping another agenda. We are actively standing up and taking ownership of the networks we create and the businesses and women we support.
As both leaders and experts in our fields, women cannot afford to get comfortable in their leather seats and walnut tables. We have work to do, and we can do it by recognising our own skills and expertise, while still supporting and promoting each other. What’s the value of multitasking otherwise?