Nestle: International Women’s Day, driving equality in Africa
Rémy Ejel, CEO of Nestlé Central and West Africa (CWA), discusses the meaning of this year’s theme for International Women’s Day - #EachForEqual.
Currently within Central and West Africa (CWA), Rémy Ejel, CEO of Nestlé CWA, has seen an increase in companies making progress to boost gender equality within the region, including Nestlé.
Although there is progress being made, Ejel stresses that “these are not enough and progress needs to be accelerated. At the current pace of change, the World Economic Forum predicts that it will take a staggering 99.5 years to attain gender parity. Therefore, all employers should double their efforts to achieve gender balance,” commented Ejel.
Ejel believes that a conscious effort should be made by all organisations - both public and private - offering equal opportunities for both men and women. “In Africa, this is challenging because young women, compared to young men, are less likely to be formally employed or go into education or training, according to The World Bank. Unequal access to education, early marriage rates among women and family responsibilities must be overcome swiftly to increase the number of women in the formal workforce,” commented Ejel.
Did you know? In 2019, Nestlé took action to make gender balance a priority announcing its Gender Acceleration Plan.
Further expanding on the family and work life balance, Ejel highlights the responsibilities of family life frequently fall heavily on women, which could slow down career progression. Compared to other countries CWA is much better in this area, however Ejel feels there could be more done to sufficiently balance child-rearing responsibilities.
“Parental leave for both men and women helps to close the equality gap. It answers the desire of younger generations who increasingly want equal roles in parenting. Parental leave also has numerous benefits for business, the economy and society, as highlighted by Forbes. It helps transform the perception that caregiving is a female responsibility, it minimizes the ‘motherhood penalty’ in the workplace, and allows parents to invest time to ensure their child has the best start in life,” commented Ejel.
Did you know? In 2021 Nestlé will roll out its gender neutral parental support policy.
Ejel explains that there are still a lot of preconceived ideas about the roles for men and women, with many females being held back from fulfilling their potential. Ultimately, a mindset change for the ground up is needed in order to achieve true gender balance within Africa.
“Achieving gender balance and equality should be a top priority in our society. This is why supporting #EachForEqual and endorsing equality across the company is part of Nestlé’s commitment to enhance gender balance in our workforce and empower women across the entire value chain. We encourage other organisations and companies in Central and West Africa, and worldwide, to continue making progress in providing equal opportunities for both men and women, prioritising parental equality and lessening bias at home and at work,” concludes Ejel.
For more information on business topics in Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Africa.