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The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is deepening workplace inequalities as companies the world over are facing enormous pressure under the ‘new normal’. According to the United Nation’s policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on women, the limited gains made in the past decades are at risk of being rolled back due to the widespread pandemic and bleak economic outlook.
Additionally, the borders between office and home have faded away, with many women now struggling to juggle the manifold roles of being an employee, a spouse and parent, while some are at the same time being locked down at home with their abusers. This has created many stages of anxiety for women. Against this backdrop, Accenture, AECI, Aspen, Business Engage, Imperial, Nedbank, Pfizer and RMB have partnered to host the third annual Voices of Change virtual event on 7 August 2020 that aims to encourage men and women to play leading roles on gender parity in the workplace. Themed Individually strong, collectively powerful; the event also aims to inspire organisations, irrespective of their business purpose, to work together towards common goals.
The keynote will be delivered by Lynette Ntuli, Founding Director and CEO of Innate Investment Solutions on Women reimagined: transformation of talent, technology and value post COVID-19. The panel discussion will focus on the role of leaders post COVID-19 and will include leading executives from Accenture, AECI, Aspen, Business Engage, Imperial, Nedbank, Pfizer and RMB. Around 1 200 men and women are expected to attend the virtual event.
The idea for Voices of Change came from the 2017 One Young World Summit where Accenture and Thomson Reuters identified an opportunity to leverage their networks and experience to create a lasting and impactful change.
According to Colleen Larsen, Business Engage’s Gender Mainstreaming Awards founder and President of 30% Club Southern Africa, despite the steady progress made in the last few years South Africa still has a long way from achieving gender parity. “I’m pleased about the commitment and progress Accenture, AECI, Aspen, Business Engage, Imperial, Nedbank, Pfizer and RMB are making in advancing their women. Dealing with the challenges and grasping opportunities is made possible by likeminded organisations coming together to find solutions in a constructive and positive manner. I have no doubt that their efforts will bring many benefits in the long run,” says Larsen.
“These organisations are setting an example of how organisations should work together to address pertinent issues affecting society. Business Engage will support them in navigating many hurdles and achieve their goals.”
The virtual event will give women from all participating partners with the opportunity to engage and discuss how leaders are tackling gender equality. It will bring together diverse insights from women and men of different backgrounds, cultures, professions and industries, from all levels of their organisations, to strengthen the value proposition of gender equality. It will also activate awareness, share learning, and identify interventions that will help to empower women and embed a new set of values across organisations.
Voice notes on what the collaboration means for partner organisations: