In an ever-shrinking and heterogeneous world, maximising the potential of diverse talents is not an altruistic endeavour. Instead, it's a vital business necessity.
It was for this reason that the American business leader, Dr Avis Jones-DeWeever, visited Ghana recently to promote women’s entrepreneurship under the Department of State’s Africa Regional Services (ARS) Speaker Programme.
As part of her visit, the award-winning author had an interaction with the Association of Women in the Media (ASWIM), the women’s wing of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and some members of the Alliance for Women in the media (AWMA) at the International Press Centre in Accra.
Dr Avis touched on two key topics: Gender Equity Matters with focus on How to maximise equity and inclusion for women in the workplace. The second was Inclusion Management, with emphasis on How to lead so all talents thrive.
Challenges women face as journalists
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Looking at some of the challenges female journalists encounter in their workplaces, Dr Avis, who made the session very interactive, said: “Women have the power to influence change in their working environment. Change is in your hands and, therefore, if you are not satisfied with yourself you cannot be motivated enough to effect the change you need,” stressing that it takes teamwork to make a dream work.
In an interview with The Mirror, Dr Avis explained that the media industry had also long been struggling with equal and fair gender representation and diversity, both off and on-screen, and while news organisations were making efforts to address this issue, we still had a long way to go.
Some members of the Association of Women in the Media (ASWIM) and Alliance for Women (AWMA) and Dr Avis after the session. Among them is the President of the Ghana Journalist Association, Mr Affail Monney and President of ASWIM, Mrs Mavis Kitcher (5th right front row).
"An important thing to factor in is that it's about being pushy for what you want and I think that's the same whether you're male or female. It is said that if you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoy it," she stated.
In the past several years, research has shown that the increase of women in leadership is helping businesses to thrive in exceptional ways. The data also suggests that in many areas, employers and their industries have yet to return the favour.
“Beyond advocacy, we want to see a lot of women in political and economic powers. This will enable women to have choices,” she observed.
Ambassador hosts Dr Avis
During a reception hosted in Dr Avis’s honour on June 20 at Ambassador Robert P. Jackson’s residence, the latter said true progress in Africa could come about more effectively through the immense talents, ideas and contributions of young African leaders in all sectors, especially women and girls.
According to him, there can be no development anywhere, including in America and Ghana, without actively empowering women and girls to offer their best talents, ideas and contributions to build a future of peace, security and prosperity.
Put simply, African solutions are needed for African challenges.
The ambassador noted that Dr Avis’s leadership sessions were specifically from women for women.
“They address the unique challenges and opportunities facing Ghanaian women as leaders, job creators and contributors to private sector growth, and how their inclusion is critical to help Ghana and the African continent attain full economic development.
“As women business leaders, you are at the forefront of promoting transparent business climates that attract foreign and domestic investors. We believe in your leadership and efforts, and salute your transformational vision to make Ghana’s economy stronger, more prosperous and beneficial to all citizens,” he added.
The farewell dinner was also attended by the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba; the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Madam Catherine Afeku; the Member of Parliament (MP) representing also the Women’s Caucus, Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings; the President of ASWIM, Mrs Mavis Kitcher; the President of the African-American Association of Ghana, Ms Theresa Kwakye and media practitioners.
The U.S Chargé d'Affaires Lisa Johnson (3rd left) and Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever (3rd right) with Miss Universe Bahamas Tomii Culmer (middle) and some female student high achievers. (Photo State Dept.)
Dr Avis Jones-DeWeever is the author of the award-winning book: How Exceptional Black Women Lead. She is an international & TEDx speaker, media commentator and diversity, equity and inclusion solutionist, founder of the Exceptional Leadership Institute for Women, a global personal and professional development firm grounded in the notion that the best leadership is diverse leadership.
Formerly, Dr Avis served as the youngest-ever Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women, a historic membership organisation touching the lives of over four million women of African descent worldwide.
She’s had the honour of being the keynote speaker to the Inaugural President of the United States’ Young African Leaders Summit and was a featured speaker before the World Bank.
She currently conducts workshops and trainings on women’s career and entrepreneurial success on behalf of US embassies across the globe.
Dr Avis helps corporations better design and implement strategies to maximise the power of diversity and inclusion at work, as well as for the marketplace of today and tomorrow.
She also coaches individual clients one-on-one, in small groups and through online courses in order to help them master the art of the career shift.
In so doing, she helps individuals shift their careers in three distinct areas: (1) ascending to leadership within their current professional space; (2) safely and effectively transitioning to a new career; or (3) making the ultimate shift, from employee to successful entrepreneur.
In her most important role, she serves as a mother of two young men who she believes would one day bring significant change to the world.