FIP 68: The Boardroom Africa with Marcia Ashong

Marcia Ashong and Tamsin Jones joined forces to start The Boardroom Africa (TBrA) with the objective of accelerating the appointment of women to boards across Africa. According to TBrA, it might take another 60 years, at the current rate, for gender parity to be achieved if things are left to run their normal course. While there are many qualified women looking to sit on boards, existing systems have evolved to favour men. Through referrals and extensive search, TBrA has compiled a growing database of more than 300 highly qualified board-ready women from 40 countries with over 10 years’ experience each in their fields.

On this episode you’ll learn:

  • Importance of male allies that are willing to help boost women up. Marcia talks about how she found her mentors.
  • When you lose your safety net of people who can advocate for you – you are forced to fight for yourself. The barriers that affect women’s growth become clearer. Have you reached the ceiling in your industry?
  • Marcia has seen many female colleagues go through the same thing as her. She tells us what it feels like to be the only female in the room in almost all situations. How do you battle these extremely intimidating dynamics?
  • She tells us about the differences between men’s leadership and female leadership. Often women will adapt to their surroundings and try to mimic men’s leadership qualities. This can mean that women start to operate outside of themselves.
  • Are you surrounded by only male colleagues or like-minded people? Prepare to be less effective. Successful businesses need diverse opinions. Diversity leads to better decision-making and company growth.
  • Through all the research TheBoardroom Africa has done, they have discovered that the companies who had a quarter share of women on their boards performed 20% better in various margins. The argument isn’t about women being better or more qualified, the argument centres around diversity.
  • One woman on a board is not enough, you have to have at least a quarter share in order to see the value of that diversity.
  • Companies will have a majority consumer base consisting of women yet have no women on the marketing team. Not setting your business up for success!
  • The way the board operates dictates how the company runs. Can start change at the board level.
  • How does someone become “board ready?” You have reached a point in your career where you will be able to impart impactful knowledge to another organization. What does that mean? 10 years experience in specific industry? And more…
  • You don’t need board experience to be considered board ready. This is one of the major barriers for women!
  • Training to understand board dynamics. What does it mean to be a woman on a male dominated board?
  • How do you get more women on your board? First step is talking about it. You don’t have to be combative. Next step? Start to planning to fix it.
  • Are board meetings a check exercise instead of a place where you can engage and debate ideas?


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