MCB Group is committed to making gender equality a priority focus of its sustainable development strategy, Success Beyond Numbers. With this objective in mind, the Group signed the Gender Diversity Charter of the Africa CEO Forum - Women Working for Change and, in the process, set up a comprehensive action plan following an assessment carried out with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).
The main objective of this action plan is to achieve, by 2026, a target of 40% of female representation within the Middle and Senior Management of the MCB. All these actions are also in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Though MCB has roughly the same number of men and women as part of its labour force, a glass ceiling still exists; the female population remains under-represented within its Middle and Senior management. MCB is committed to accelerate the momentum in terms of gender equality and commits to reach 40% of women in Middle and Senior Management positions by 2026.
Dedicated governance on gender issues
To achieve this goal, a Gender Action Plan Committee, chaired by Mike Sophie, Head of Human Resources at MCB, was established to set priorities and steer the implementation of the action plan. In July 2020, a Gender Working Group consisting of employees from various departments of MCB was created. This team is working to implement the various initiatives that have been identified.
In addition, since employee awareness of gender-related issues in business is fundamental, MCB relies on training. Over the past few months, at least 300 employees have attended an awareness session on gender equality as well as unconscious bias. A plan has been established to educate all employees.
An employee survey was conducted in November 2020 on gender. It was noted that the main motivation of women in the work field is to achieve financial independence. It also emerged that men are more willing to make personal sacrifices to progress in their career. 15% of women and 17% of men say they are ready to refuse a promotion in order to prioritise family and personal balance. Furthermore, 90% of women remain optimistic about the possibility of gender equality in the workplace and are just as determined as men are. Regarding parental leave, men and women are unanimous: 90% of women and 86% of men think that the 5-day paternity leave is insufficient. For maternity leaves, 3 out of 4 women find it currently insufficient (52% among men).
MCB Focus: Women employment as a catalyst for economic recovery
The latest MCB Focus (No. 82) was released on Friday 21st May. It is entitled: “Promoting gender equity to sustain a more inclusive development path”. The study probed the issue faced by women across the world, in the Mauritian society and more particularly in the field of work. MCB’s Strategy, Research and Development (SRD) team concluded that the Covid-19 epidemic had a stronger impact on women than on men, which resulted in the reappearance of some differences between men and women. In addition, according to the report; women continue to be under-represented at all levels, although notable progress has been made in recent years.
Covid-19 and employment: women are more affected than men
MCB Focus's findings are clear about the situation of women in the wake of the pandemic. Across the world, women have lost 64 million jobs, a 5% decrease in comparison to employed women, compared to a 3.9% decrease for men. The situation is also reflected in Mauritius, where the percentage of unemployed women fell from 11.1% in July 2020 to 13.1% in December of the same year.
For men, the percentage, which was 9.8% in July of last year, rose to 8.6% in December of the same year. At the world scale, the report notes that the wage gap between men and women occupying the same positions is of the order of 37%. Only 52.6% of women are in the labour market, compared to 80% of men. According to MCB Focus, it will take 135.6 years to close the Gender gap at the global level.
In Mauritius, more specifically, despite the progress made to promote women's education, the gender gap remains relatively high in terms of employment (an average of 30 percentage points over a decade at the end of 2019). This disparity is measured by the gap in the active participation rate of men and women in this sector. As for the participation of women in the labour force, it remains much lower than that of men, at 45%.
The report estimates that an increase in the participation of women in the labour market will have a potentially positive impact on economic growth and productivity gains. In the current pandemic context, the country could benefit from the implementation of measures that promote more equitable and more inclusive development in gender terms.
In the light of these findings, MCB Focus is making several proposals to encourage the participation of women in the field of work, in particular through a more flexible regulatory framework. The report suggests the setting up of a parental leave system, as well as a daycare service for children.
Legal and institutional framework
MCB Focus also highlights the need to promote a legal and institutional framework in order to defend women and to promote a change in attitude about their role in society and in the field of work. In order to achieve these various objectives, it is important that the society at large and economic actors can work together to develop proposals that are adapted to the socio-economic realities of the country.