February 10, 2022
Sustainable development means ending discrimination towards women and providing equal opportunities for education and employment. According to the experts, gender equality and women empowerment has been conclusively shown to stimulate economic growth, which is fundamental, especially in countries with higher unemployment rates and less economic opportunity.
Founded in 2010, BCS is a wholesale telecommunications operator that provides wholesale bandwidth, fiber optic construction and transmission services to MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and ISPs (Internet Services Providers) in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. Over the last decade, our infrastructure and operations have seen significant growth, spurred by the accelerated initiatives focused on promoting gender equality and women empowerment. We want to be part of reshaping the image of a traditionally male dominated industry.
Gender equality and women empowerment is a top priority to BCS and inextricably linked to its efforts to increase growth, productivity and innovation and to achieve a more stable workforce. At BCS, we strive to achieve a balance in gender representation and this is why today we are at 45% in both Senior and Middle Management, with an overall company ratio standing at 38%.
Some of the internal practices we adhere to that help promote gender equality and women empowerment in our company include:
1. We hire for a culture that celebrates and embraces true gender equality and with core values consistent with ours;
2. We establish inclusive culture expectations where we set clear expectations on what inclusive behaviors look like, we include key competencies in performance measures and use coaching and productive communication techniques to support continuous learning and norming employee behavior to support gender equality;
3. We create a culture of shared accountability where noncompliance is not accepted by all, and well-defined practices and measures of success are in place to support this objective;
4. We encourage and embrace culture humility by encouraging being open to lifelong learning and continuing education, engaging in self-reflection and self-exploration, fostering and maintaining diverse partnerships and seeking to understand directly from those impacted;
5. We encourage a highly productive culture while ensuring that we observe a work life integration;
6. We encourage development at all levels for both men and women and provide equal training and development opportunities for each employee, built around their particular needs in order to succeed and offer promotions and rewards based on individual achievements;
7. We avail mentors to everyone to help guide employees through different channels in their career;
8. We conduct regular pay audits to continuously bridge the gender pay gaps;
9. We allow flexible working hours and support working mothers by working together to agree on a fair and balanced workplace that will promote productivity, while also allowing flexibility and the option to work remotely where possible.
10. We have built a lactation room within the office with all the essential amenities for nursing mothers, to offer comfort and promote a smooth transition back into work;
11. We offer medical health insurance to all employees including their family members, this cover extends to both maternity and neonatal health;
12. We have partnered with a wellness and fitness center to offer all our employees a subsidized membership (80% on company) to ensure general good health and wellbeing;
13. We offer up to six months paid maternity leave to expectant mothers, and give them an option to continue staying connected with work so as to not feel left out when they resume;
14. We promote a happy working environment to ensure that all employees feel safe and secure.
Why study STEM? Let my colleagues tell you
In celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I asked some of our female staff about their inspiration for taking up STEM (Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics) studies. Here’s what they said:
Michelle Jerotich, Pre Sales Engineer
“My passion for STEM has greatly been influenced by my innate drive and desire to solve problems and challenges faced by humanity in general. In addition to this passion for servitude, I also find it quite thrilling to turn ideas into a reality through technology.”
Maureen Thumbi, Project Engineer
“I have always loved maths and science and this passion really influenced my choice of career in STEM. In my opinion, STEM is important because it pervades every part of our lives. Science is everywhere in the world around us. Technology is continuously expanding into every aspect of our lives. Engineering is the basic design of roads and bridges but also tackles the challenges of changing global weather and environmentally-friendly changes to our homes. Finally, mathematics is in every occupation, every activity we do in our lives.”
Joanita Nakanwagi Ahuurra, Project Engineer
“I was inspired by the fact that STEM is centered on solving global challenges, creating smart and effective methodologies of accomplishing tasks in workplaces. Today’s era is ”about working smart and not hard”.
Sharing our best practices and showcasing our female role models is our way of sending the right kind of message to young girls. In many of the countries we operate in, there is a strong will to get more women to study STEM. Some of our trainee positions are targeted for women especially. We want to make sure that young girls can look at BCS and see that engineering can be my job. We want to give them confidence.
June Hossel Delfaud
Head of Communications and Social Impact
The author joined BCS in 2019 as a consultant in charge of Regulatory Affairs, Project Finance, Supply Chain and Human Resources for their DRC operations. This was a very intense role especially given the fact that she had never worked in DRC before. After one year of working, she went on maternity leave and came back to resume a new role as the Group Market Development, Public Relations and Social Impact Manager for all BCS countries with a major focus on DRC.
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