By Nimmita Maharaj, Diversity and Transformation Director Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day, an institution, and an all-important campaign which this year places the spotlight on #EmbraceEquity. It is poignant message which also aligns very closely with Schneider Electric’s equity targets.

The good news is our efforts are showing results; Schneider Electric was recognised in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) 2023 for the sixth consecutive year. This acknowledgement highlights our ongoing commitment to increase gender equity across the company and build an inclusive and caring work environment.

The 2023 Bloomberg GEI lists 484 companies across 54 industries headquartered in 45 countries and regions and measures their performance according to five key pillars: leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, anti-sexual harassment policies, and external brand.

Schneider Electric achieved an overall score of 81%, up from 77% the previous year and well above the index average of 73%. We also maintained a consistently strong performance for equal pay and gender pay parity (88%).

Furthermore, and which echoes the GEI’s pillars, Schneider Electric is working towards achieving gender diversity goals by 2025 – 50% female hiring, 40% female frontline managers, and 30% women in executive leadership. This KPI (key performance indicator) is relevant to all people managers and leaders and also forms part of our Schneider Sustainability Impact (SSI) programme.

Systematic, targeted steps

How will we achieve our 2025 gender diversity goals? For one, we must still overcome several challenges. Schneider Electric operates in a predominantly male industry; engineering for example has historically been perceived as a career path more accessible to men. Within Schneider Electric Anglophone Africa, our commercial and sales teams also comprise largely of men.

To this end, we’ve implemented a number of programmes. Our SWIS (Schneider Women in Sales) programme encourages and equips our ladies to consider roles in the sales and commercial teams. How Women Rise forms part of our global women empowerment campaign and addresses the habits that hold women back from progressing in their careers. In Anglophone Africa, the Still I Rise programme, also allows for women to build resilience, focus on personal mastery and manage key relationships. Senior managers, both male and female, act as mentors and coaches, working closely with these women, supporting and honing their skills to flourish in high-pressure environments.

Another important initiative is our Early Career drive which offers apprenticeships, internships, and graduate opportunities. Our aim is to develop a pipeline of female talent thereby supporting our succession planning. This campaign enables us to get one step closer to our 2025 goals. Schneider Electric South Africa also sponsors several bursaries to students at a tertiary level, supporting studies in the fields of engineering, software, computer science and commerce. We are also looking at working with schools and specifically STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programmes to encourage girls to follow these career paths.

You can

At Schneider Electric our goal is to create an environment where women can grow and stand shoulder to shoulder with their male peers. And yes, women can be partners, wives, moms and still pursue a rewarding career – our Flex at Work policy, and the recently launched Global Family Leave Policy supports this with additional maternity, paternity and care leave being offered to all.

As 2025 approaches, we will need our male colleagues to support this ambitious yet attainable goal. Together we can build an environment where both women and men can grow, raising the bar on gender equality whilst closing the pay gap and fighting bias.

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