This year, the excesses of gender inequality has rocked Fox News, Uber, and the Weinstein Company, in which powerful men have taken advantage of women or created workplaces hostile to gender equality. So for Forbes to feature 2014 Tutu Fellow Samuel Mensah - along with three other men in South Africa - a country hardly known for gender equality in business, says something of their credibilty. Mensah is the co-founder of the leading African fashion brand, Kisua.
In the lengthy interview with Mensah by Forbes Woman Africa, he said: “Men still, and have, historically, wielded significant power. This is an issue that has primarily affected women. In order to bring about change, men need to be a part of the solution and men haven’t made it a priority.” The other men featured in the piece are are Gil Oved, Group Co-CEO of The Creative Counsel; Dion Shango, CEO and Regional Senior Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC); and Dean Peacock, Co-Founder of civil society group Sonke Gender Justice.
Mensah said that he believes that the wider discourse on gender inequality needs to include men in the conversation. Since men are the major perpetrators of gender inequality and boys learn to be men from other men, it is an intergenerational problem unless men are part of the solution, he said.
Bain and Company's 2017 report on gender disparity in South Africa shows that 31% of South African companies have no females in senior leadership roles. BWASA - the Businesswomen's Association of South Africa - census shows only 22% of board directors are women, 7% executive directors, and 10% are CEOs.
Kisua's workforce comprises 70% women, and they are represented at every level of the organisation. Mensah said that his business requires capabilities that play to the strengths of women and that his organisation has made a conscious decision that women are an asset and where possible will hire women to redress some of the imbalances found in society at large.
The full thought-provoking piece can be read at Forbes Africa.