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Kenya

Make offices women friendlier – Collymore

BOB-COLLYMORE-STRESSESNAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – As Safaricom released its 2012/2013 financial year results, the telecommunication company’s CEO Bob Collymore has called on more companies to make their offices female friendly in order to boost their productivity.

“My argument is simple, it is important that we develop women in leadership. It is important that they feel comfortable. It’s important that a woman is able to breastfeed with dignity. It is important that if she wants to express she can do so without going to the toilet. The toilet is not the place to be breast feeding,” Collymore said a week after Safaricom opened a crèche for its staff at its Westlands head office.

Collymore added that the private sector should learn from the one-third gender rule adopted by the public sector (the Kenyan Constitution provides that no more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender).

“We started a staff council and I told the staff to work out how they were going to nominate their representatives. Of the 18 representatives, there were three women.”

“I don’t know what they didn’t understand about gender diversity that out of 18 you can only come up with three women.”

The telecommunication company’s CEO was adamant that management teams should not be coerced to make the working environment more conducive to women as the resultant bottom line would make it worth their while.

“Every management team is scared of unionisation; I come from a different place because we should have the same interests at heart as the unions. I can now attract the best female workers in this country and they are able to better focus on their work because they aren’t busy worrying about the kids,” Collymore said in reference to the crèche.

The CEO called on his fellow company chiefs to be more accommodating to the challenges women face in the work place, especially in the developing world, “One of the reasons women do not progress in leadership is because they have what I call the double shift. So they have to do their job here then have to go home and do another job there. We don’t have an equal share over the domestic chores.”

“It is important that when your house help or nanny does not turn up on Monday morning, that you don’t have to have the keys in one hand to go to work and the keys to the house and not being able to make that decision. That’s not a decision that a woman needs to make,” Collymore concluded.

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