Women Must Take Their Seat At The Table - Business Media MAGS

Celebrating Women

Women Must Take Their Seat At The Table

Women bring diversity to the materials handling industry, so organisations need to remove the barriers to entry by inculcating a culture of inclusivity, writes Vuyokazi Bangazi, general manager for the EIE Group’s Toyota Business Unit.

Women have much to offer the materials handling and industrial equipment industry, not only through their technical and leadership skills, but also with the softer skills they bring. Companies need to make it easier for women to enter the industry, provide the necessary support and mentorship to help them advance in their careers and, most importantly, include them in leadership and decision-making roles. This can only be done if a culture of inclusivity that embraces, supports and celebrates women exists.

There is a place for softer skills 

Women are naturally resilient and can adapt to different environments. We can undertake any role given to us and master it, especially when supported by both our female and male colleagues. Women are good at nurturing and are compassionate – just some of the softer skills we can bring to the workplace. Regrettably, some organisations still frown upon softer skills and do not have policies that allow women to use their soft skills or take on leadership roles.  Although we have made significant strides when it comes to women empowerment, we still have various challenges that are not inclusive; this is something we need to work on.  Diversity is not just a word or a nice-to-have, it’s a matter of ensuring that the policies are in place and are aligned with gender equality goals.

The boardroom, mentorship and human capital 

Women must take an active role in decision- and policy-making, but negotiating the boardroom has its own set of challenges. Women often tend to take a back seat in the boardroom and are hesitant to make their voices heard. But, they must engage and collaborate with their colleagues, be flexible, choose their battles and speak up loudly while being diplomatic and respectful.

Mentorship should never be underestimated. Support from female and male mentors – both within and outside the industry – who are willing to guide you through difficult situations and environments and offer advice is an invaluable asset for advancing your career. Some mentors may be assigned, while others need to be actively sought out. Women should reach out and accept advice or offer solutions. That’s how you grow. Nobody knows you have a problem or a solution unless you talk. Showing vulnerability is not a bad thing.

Companies need to invest in human capital and do everything within their power to include and value their female employees. Without human capital, you don’t have a business. You can have the best strategy and the best business, but if you don’t have the right people, and you don’t appreciate their input, your strategy won’t get you anywhere. Training, developing and empowering employees is critical.

For younger women aspiring to enter or who have entered the industry, my advice is to show a willingness to learn – don’t regard any job as beneath you – this way you will gain a deeper insight into the business. Most importantly, work hard and earn, then own your seat at the table.

Vuyokazi Bangazi

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