We caught up with Tracy Dawson, Partner at Kestria South Africa: Jack Hammer and Kestria Africa and Kestria Agribusiness & Agriscience EMEA Practice Leader, who shared some of her experience on the challenges inherent in driving diversity and inclusion in workplaces across Africa and emerging markets.
Dawson says recruitment has a different context depending on where in the world you are operating. In markets with a large established middle class, like much of Europe, gender-equitable recruiting can be primarily focused on bringing women back into the workplace. This is directly due to a strong middle class where women who have children have a harder time re-entering the workplace, with less incentive to do so.
She explains that nowhere is the divide as wide or the gender inclusion challenge as complex as in emerging markets across Africa and the Middle East, where 97% of the informal economy is agrarian, and the bulk of working adults in this sector are women. There are and have been many initiatives to make smallholder farming more sustainable and to bring these players into the formal economy. But climate change, conflict (there are at least eight African countries currently fragile or conflicted) and the resultant displaced and refugee communities have pushed the gender equality and inclusion divide even wider in these areas.