Since inception, South Africa’s public holiday on 9 August, Women’s Day has highlighted issues our women face for a day. The topic of women soon branched out to become the talking point for an entire month.
Soon enough discussion and debate turned into action and a few progressive South African organisations embedded the concept of female empowerment into its organisational culture and psyche in such a way that it is now a part of their (work) life.
Janice Bassa, the Distribution Business Manager at Intel South Africa, believes her company’s empowerment policies provides for a great work life balance. “As the mother of a six year old I deal with the demands of knowing I am the only breadwinner in our family. Then to juggle illness, school, day care and extracurricular activities in between regularly disturbs the balance. Luckily I am fortunate to be in a position where my employer and management understand this juggling game and supports me with programs and flexibility to ensure I am productive all around.”
“Not only is working flexi time a huge advantage but simply being a woman working for a technology giant like Intel in a digital age helps tremendously to achieve that ever-elusive balanced life at work and home. The backbone of my career is the fact that I can be connected to the Intel office from my laptop or smart phone from any location – home, car or the sports field.”
Ntokozo Ncongwane, Intel South Africa’s Market Development Manager, agrees with Janice: “We share an inside joke between colleagues that work is what we do, not where we are. To be able to do my work from any remote location allows this mother of two energetic girls the flexibility to structure my work around my family life.”
Intel retail intern, Diketso Makhutle explains that, for her, the technology sector is an exciting entry place to start off her career. “From an intern’s point of view it is evident that the company’s policies aim to equalise motherhood and work life as far as possible. I watch how the majority of Intel employees who are women (and men) with a family seem to juggle work and home...and it seems effortlessly.
“When I questioned these colleagues about how they keep it up, there was a general consensus that pride creates a good work ethic, and good work is rewarded equally with trust from management across gender lines.”
“Being a technology woman today is so exciting. Being able to thrive intellectually, to inspire and live out your passions is an easy feat. If you have passion, a door will be there, ready to walk through,” says Janice who also credits being surrounded by many, many intelligent women (and men) as a breeding ground for continuous learning. For instance, Intel offers its employees The Development Opportunity Tool – short-term assignments designed to provide employees with confidence and the know-how to handle daily work place experiences and grow their careers at the same time.
Other courses such as Career Development and Strategic Thinking in particular have filled female employees like Diketso and Ntokozo with enthusiasm to be able to create their future and drive change in the company on an equal footing as their male counterparts.
For so long women were not encouraged to think outside the box. In fact, to not think at all. Today, Ntokozo feels valued because she can express her ideas and opinions freely at work. And she is trusted to implement her ideas.
Ntokozo says the development mindset is evident for her when she noticed how the four female interns Intel employs on an annual basis have been absorbed into a decision-making, corporate environment. Interns are exposed to all parts of the organisation and are pushed to execute ideas under the encouragement of their managers. This is echoed by Diketso: “Sometimes managers come to me for assistance on tasks they know I do well or on new ideas they want to bounce off me. To be seen as a ‘go-to’ person makes me feel like I am actively and positively contributing to my company’s success.”
“Even after three years I still love what I do,” says Ntokozo. “This alone has made it easy to over-achieve in my job and still be able to devote quality time to other things that matters in my life - my family and my personal development as a woman.”