03 May 2016


    Vodacom embraces change

    Transformation is part of Vodacom’s DNA writes MATIMBA MBUNGELA, Chief Human Resources Officer for Vodacom Group.

    Transformation is an integral part of Vodacom’s DNA. When we started operating in 1994, the winds of change were blowing within the country, and we are a company born out of a transforming South Africa.

    Fast forward 21 years and Vodacom has 65.1 million customers across five countries; a market capitalisation of R213bn; revenue of R182bn per annum; a R235bn impact on GDP in 2014/2015; we contribute R20bn towards SA’s tax revenue, and have seen a total capital investment of R70bn over the past 20 years. Vodacom's total shareholder return has been 261.0% since our listing in 2009 and we spend R2bn supporting BEE players annually.

    Embracing our role as change agent

    Throughout our history, we have embraced our role as a change agent by democratising access to mobile services. Through our franchises and community payphones, we have transformed the lives of entrepreneurs and are now empowering customers through data connectivity. Over and above the economic impact we’ve had and contribution we have made to SA, we have also embraced our role as a corporate citizen to contribute to gender parity.

    As a company with local roots, we are committed to realising the ideals of BBBEE and Employment Equity Acts. We fully embrace transformation and its ideals which, among other things, aim to provide women with equal work opportunities so they can contribute meaningfully in the mainstream economy.

    We have taken serious strides to give meaning to gender parity. We've launched various programmes to ensure that women have the necessary support to take up leadership positions in Vodacom. These programmes have yielded positive results, although more work still needs to be done across the ICT sector as well as within our organisation to propel more women to senior leadership positions.

    Programmes empowering women leaders

    We have four programmes in place that are aimed at empowering woman to ascend to senior management and leadership positions at Vodacom.

    1. Female Leaders Programme – Launched in 2013, the programme is designed to attract high-potential women with deep commercial and technology experience, who work outside of Vodacom, into strategic roles for our future talent pipeline. 

    It has a leadership academic programme attached to it, developed by the Gordon Institute of Business Sciences (GIBS), focussing on developing personal and strategic awareness relating specifically to customer service excellence. 

    Participants have direct access to the Vodacom Executive Committee, including the CEO, through quarterly engagement sessions and mentorship. A total of 28 candidates have gone through the programme in the past two years; 21 graduated and 11 were successfully appointed in Vodacom. We’ve enrolled 15 candidates for this year.

    2. Vodacom Women in Red Awards – Launched in partnership with Vodafone, this award seeks to recognise women who are an inspiration for others and who have done much to promote the agenda of gender diversity by supporting other women within the organisation. 

    The 100 women who win the Global Award will nominate a key mentor in their career who has supported their career. A total of six nominees were selected from Vodacom Group for this year’s awards.

    3. Women’s Network Forum Mentorship Programme – We also have a mentoring programme for female employees in the business. Women executives in the business are the mentors and the mentees are high-potential women in junior management roles. Mentees are taken through a mentorship for leaders programme at Wits Business School (WBS) and mentors receive coaching at WBS. Participation of both parties is voluntary, spanning six months to a year.

    4. HeForShe – Vodacom also supports the HeForShe initiative, a United Nations solidarity movement which encourages all people (men and boys, girls and women) across the world to speak up and act against the inequalities faced by women and girls. It strengthens the support for women’s empowerment as a human right by enlisting men and encouraging them to put themselves forward as advocates for gender equality.

    Serious about diversity

    We are serious about diversity and invest in it. In the 2014/2015 financial period, we spent R131 million on skills and development. We increased women representation in the company – and this includes the pool of female leaders in waiting. In South Africa, 74% of our employees are black, 44% of whom are women; 67% of our Executive Committee members are black, 17% of whom are women.

    What we have achieved to date is minuscule when compared to the work that lies ahead of us. A lot more work still needs to be done in creating more opportunities for women.

    In our considered view, corporate South Africa, captains of the industry, academia and policy makers alike need to ask what more should be done to ensure that women empowerment becomes a daily reality. 

    We would like to urge corporate South Africa to resolve to accelerate its efforts towards gender equality and propel more women leaders forward.

    A Gender Equality Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is instructive for all of us: 'There are two complementary approaches to achieving gender equality: mainstreaming gender and promoting women's empowerment. Both are critical. Gender mainstreaming is "the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, making women's concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes so that women and men benefit equally."'