Women in the workplace – BIMA’s mission to be an exception to the rule
Women are in many ways the cornerstone of emerging economies, and extensive research shows that company performance improves when women are in leadership roles. And yet, the battle for gender equity continues, with only five per cent of African women reaching the highest managerial levels. Cultural norms and historical precedents contribute to this workplace bias and managerial gender gap — trends that LeapFrog partner company BIMA is determined to reverse.
BIMA, the global digital services pioneer, uses mobile technology to deliver insurance and health to over 30 million low-income consumers in 16 across Asia, Africa and Latin America. While 50% of BIMA employees are women, and yet women remain underrepresented at the local management level. This is a persistent trend in emerging markets, but BIMA is committed to being an exception to the rule.
With a view to creating a workplace in which women are respected, supported and developed into a new generation of pioneering business leaders, BIMA has introduced an ambitious company-wide initiative. The “RUN Programme”, launched in July 2016, is designed to change the face of local leadership in the markets in which BIMA operates.
Recognising the proven benefits that strong role models provide to women in the workplace, at its core RUN is a mentorship programme in which members of BIMA’s Global team provide one-to-one coaching to women in local mid-management positions. A flagship event in this year’s programme will be a leadership summit in London, convening the current cohort of RUN mentees. The summit will provide in-depth leadership and management training from both internal and external experts. The event also represents a unique and empowering opportunity for many BIMA mentees who may never have left their home countries before.
In addition to providing equal opportunities, BIMA is committed to changing the mindset of both female and male employees to create an enduring, inclusive culture in which women can flourish. This intention will drive the RUN Program so that BIMA can tackle he factors that contribute to gender imbalance in its workforce.
Proactive initiatives such as BIMA’s RUN Programme set an inspiring example of commitment to supporting women’s journeys to the boardroom. If other organisations follow suit, a future in which women in emerging markets are firmly front and centre in leadership roles may be closer than it seems.