As we strive for success in the decade ahead, the community of female role-models and collaborators around us can be instrumental in shaping new thinking, unlocking opportunity and empowering others around them.
Prudential Africa is proud to join the global celebration of International Women’s Day. We all have the opportunity to challenge and call our gender-bias and inequality, whether in the workplace or in our communities.
To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, Prudential Africa is celebrating the achievements of women at Prudential and showing their support by asking Grace Adjei-Ford, Head of HR Prudential Ghana, to share her thoughts on the importance of good human resource (HR) practices in the workplace leading to women empowerment and healthy mental wellness among all staff to fulfil Prudential Africa’s purpose of helping people get the most out of life.
Grace’s Prudential journey started in 2014, when Prudential entered their first market in Africa, and she was tasked with setting up the HR function for the Prudential Ghana office from the ground level. Since that time, she has overseen the headcount growing from under 30 to over 150 employees. Women are powerful agents of change, and Grace has shown that by nurturing diversity and development of all staff equally, one can achieve an empowering culture.
What have you learnt as a leader in HR?
HR practitioners are the custodians of organisational culture, and culture is the compass that guides the company’s performance. It’s not machines, but rather people who perform; and when their issues are addressed they are able to perform at their peak potential, which leads to better outcomes for their career and the organisation. When we create a conducive work environment, we allow people to grow and achieve outcomes that exceed expectations. In creating that environment, you need to listen to your employees to understand the issues they face both in the workplace and in their personal lives. At that point, you can then work on a solution to assist them in becoming their best selves.
In this era of rapid change and disruption, we have the responsibility to show how we are using our unique strengths to serve people, businesses and communities. Moreover, by empowering our diverse teams of employees, amplifying their talent, we will lead new and inclusive ways of working and deliver the future wellbeing for our customers.
Knowing that mental wellness is key to a happy culture, how have you ensured mental wellness in your workplace?
With the past year dominated by the pandemic which has challenged almost every aspect of human life, inspiration, motivation and mental wellness are crucial to good work practice and society at large.
In 2020, we began a journey to listen to each other and take action in areas that matter most to us. We conducted our first global employee survey, generating a 95% response rate, and work/life balance emerged as important to the Prudential Africa collective. Inspired by employee feedback and insights from the survey, we put together policies and guidelines and rolled them out to all staff.
This was an important step, because now these policies enable staff and their dependants to access mental fitness and wellbeing support as and when they need it.
The role of HR in women empowerment:
Progress in diversity and inclusion is not dependent on human resources teams alone, but their active leadership can be transformative. As HR leaders, we have the ability to champion change. We are able to identify the opportunities and suggest specific actions to drive change that will allow the strengths which women bring to the workplace to grow and thrive. Empowerment of women in the workplace includes creating a conducive workplace where women are treated with dignity and respect; where they have access to opportunities to learn, develop and growl and where their performance is based on their contribution, competence and capability. Women’s empowerment is not about equality but about equitability.
What can women do to become a leader?
The best champions for women are themselves, but they cannot do it on their own. Within businesses – both small and large, and equally public sector entities, we need policies which embrace the realities of women and stimulate the opportunities for more leadership journeys.
We strive to empower, educate and elevate women in our workplace through participation from all colleagues, because we believe we are truly better together.
What are your views on women in the workplace and with reference to Prudential?
Having more women in the workplace allows us to contribute our unique strengths in the workplace. For example, the creative and nurturing skills which are inherent in most women provide a path to create a more conducive environment that fosters the growth and development of all employees to ensure peak employee performance and best outcomes for the organisation.
Prudential Africa empowers women in leadership roles by being an equal opportunity employer. Every employee at Prudential Africa is given equal opportunities regardless of age, gender, background and nationality.
We have a high number of female employees within our IT department, which is normally dominated by males across most industries.
As we celebrate international Women’s Day today, it is also a time to pause and reflect on the contributions that women have made and will continue to make in shaping organisations all over the world. It is also a call for action to support the young girls who aspire to make a difference and help them become future leaders.