Fostering the growth of the Corporate African Woman

BY: Arku Jasmine

Lead Consultant at Stratcomm Africa, Esther A.N. Cobbah, was recently named Outstanding Corporate Woman of the Year at the 2013 Ghana Women AwardsThe corporate world, until recent years, has never been regarded as a gender neutral habitat where the female is allowed to flourish, develop and take on significant leadership roles.  

Traditionally, it has been a male dominated society, characterised by traits that lend themselves to the male demographic. The success of an organisation is often linked to those at the highest echelons of its corporate structure.

Given that this is often a male presence, the perception that a successful corporation needs a man has prevailed and seeped into the psyche of many up and coming young professionals. Over the years, this has resulted in segmentation in the mindset of many young female professionals who feel intimidated to dip their feet into the waters of the corporate world, and end up settling for a lot less than they are capable of.

In recent years however, there has been a dramatic shift in perceptions and the status quo, as far as the role of women in the corporate world is concerned; particularly for the African woman.

Credit Suisse, in its August 2012 research report on “Gender diversity and corporate performance” found significant evidence that attests to the importance of the corporate woman.  In testing the performance of 2,360 companies globally over the last six years, Credit Suisse‘s analysis has shown that on average it would have been better to have invested in corporate organisations with women on their management boards than in those without women.

It was also found that, companies with one or more women on the board have delivered higher average returns on equity; lower gearing, better average growth and higher price/book value multiples over the course of the last six years.

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As the role of the woman in the success of any corporate body has become more recognisable, the “glass ceiling” that seemed to hinder opportunities at reaching the highest levels of the corporate ladder has now become non-existent. The corporate world is no longer the preserve of men, and now more than ever, offers unlimited opportunities for female professionals who brave the odds to fearlessly pursue their desired careers.

The success of corporate women is by no means a western phenomenon, and is very much the reality of the African corporate world. Across the continent, women are venturing into the corporate world and are flourishing in their pursuits of a successful career. One only has to look up the Forbes list of the most successful African women, and it is clear that much progress has been made over recent years in this regard.

Strategic Communications Africa Limited (Stratcomm Africa), a specialised communication and reputation management agency dedicated to using communication as a means of enhancing performance in various contexts, is a shining example of a corporate organisation which has embraced the role of women in building a well-respected, successful and profitable African business.

Led by its Chief Worker and Lead Consultant, Esther A.N. Cobbah, who has just been named Outstanding Corporate Woman of the Year at the 2013 Ghana Women Awards, Stratcomm Africa has not only excelled in the corporate communications sector, but is widely regarded as the pioneer of corporate communications in Ghana.

The award winners included Dr Mary Grant—Legendary Woman; Prof. Miranda Greenstreet; Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings—Women Empowerment Award and Mrs Grace Amey-Obeng, C.E.O of FC Beauty Clinic.

Birthed from an idea, Ms. Cobbah has fashioned Stratcomm Africa into an organisation that has created an environment which fosters the desire to be taught and the opportunity for its staff to excel.

Where a change in perception doesn’t always translate to material change on the ground, Stratcomm Africa has led the way by developing several women who with the expertise garnered and with incredible determination and resilience, have now succeeded in creating a name for themselves in business and have moved up in the ranks of the corporate world.

Stratcomm Africa is a hub for female professionals, with the majority of its workforce being made up of women, and top managerial positions held by women who have become well known and respected in the corporate world as a result of the quality of their work and strength of their character.

Womanhood in the corporate world should be celebrated, as it is a key element not only for a successful business but also for national development. There is a shift in business dynamics where the success of an organisation cannot be based on monetary value alone, but on the quality of relationships within the organisation.

Stratcomm Africa recognises that the advent of more women in leadership roles in the corporate world presents an opportunity for other women and men to be nurtured and developed to recognise this value and drive forward globally competitive businesses, and contribute to the nation’s development.

Stratcomm Africa, after 19 years of being the face of corporate communications in Ghana, looks set to continue to lead the way in developing women who through teamwork and drawing from their womanhood, rather than dumbing it down, will rise to the challenge of being at the forefront of the corporate world.

By Obed Kuuku/Graphic Business