It is 2019, and more women in manufacturing are breaking new ground by performing roles which have always been viewed as traditional male positions. The manufacturing sector accounts for 12% of South Africa’s GDP and employs about 1.6 million people, 34% are women.
Everite has 488 employees of which 115 are female. This accounts for 23.56% of the overall employee population. Everite, much like other business sectors is challenged by gender bias and practices of discrimination hidden in social norms, subtle stereotypes and in salary differences. The proverbial ‘this is a man’s world’ notion is often difficult to deal with and juggling home and business is a daunting assignment.
Transforming manufacturing — one woman at a time
Women make for great ambassadors in changing and improving perceptions. In Everite, the women empowerment initiative programme called BASADI was launched in 2011 to form part of the company’s transformation strategy. Basadi is a platform where female talent is nurtured and role models have borne.
The programmes’ overarching aim is:
• To position Everite as a truly transformed organisation, and to enhance the company’s ability to attract and retain female talent;
• To promote gender equality, diversity in the workforce and a culture change within the business in order to unleash the full female potential
• and make Everite a compelling workplace for a diverse talent; a place where unique strengths thrive.
Women in Everite, come out to play….
More and more women are being encouraged to take technical courses in colleges due to the increasing need for artisans. Young women (and young men too) need to understand that making useful products require creativity, innovation, computer skills and problem-solving. There is clearly a platform for women, all that needs to happen is for women to make it their own stage and play on it.
Increasingly Manufacturers are becoming more forward-thinking and introducing technologically advanced machinery to improve on production outputs. This is an advantage to women because human interaction with the product is lessened. Certainly, women in Everite have seen this opportunity and with the backing of supportive senior leadership, the female employees are fast emerging as a powerhouse.
In the last 10 years, women have ‘come out to play’ in various roles
• Diversity has improved vastly and male colleagues are starting to embrace the critical presence of women in the company, most especially in the Plant space.
• The company proactively absorb more females through learnerships, apprenticeships, mentorship programs and targeted in-service training. Women make up 23.56% of the employee population in Everite.
• Recently Basadi has partnered with a trade school in Katlehong during the Take a Girl Child to Work Initiative to allow girls the opportunity to enhance their theoretical knowledge with practical exposure.
• Everite boasts female Machine Operators, Forklift Drivers, Crane Drivers, a Control Room Operator, a Team Leader, a female Superintendent and Supervisors, Technicians, Fitters, Managers, the list is endless.
• Every year during the women’s month program in August, women and men are acknowledged for being role models and ambassadors of gender equity in the Everite business.
• The direct spinoff of all the development initiatives being undertaken is skilled females who will assist Everite to grow and thrive as a leader in the industry.
• Also, these women are less likely to leave because the company invested in their personal and professional development, enhanced their skills set to increase productivity, and in the long-term, they will make a contribution to the country’s global competitiveness.
The road ahead
For Basadi it is important to bring women together to focus on career advancement and the ongoing change we want to see in our industry. As a business, we continue to see the benefits of having women taking the lead on the factory floor. Basadi is truly succeeding in giving women a much stronger voice in manufacturing. Teams are more collaborative than before, communication has improved throughout the company, and women are more self-assured in their ability to lead into the future.
Through the Basadi program, females in Everite are encouraged to remain true to themselves and embrace their feminine nature which will be evident in their leadership style as they continue to grow and start occupying senior roles. In the words of the Everite General Manager, Mark Jones: “I can imagine that in the absence of a Basadi, it must be quite difficult for women to integrate into a male-dominated environment… to date Basadi has played a significant role in enabling women in Everite to develop the confidence and courage to take on more meaningful and senior roles”