The First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has urged women leaders to continue the drive for greater inclusion of women in all facets of our national development.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the Executive Women Network (EWN) Annual Conference held in Accra, she said: “Excluding women, who make up more than 50 percent of our population, is not the way to go if we want to develop Ghana. We need more female voices engaged in our national discourse, and to engage them actively in our national development”.
She added that Ghana will be the biggest beneficiary, because the participation of women leaders in the national development agenda is critical to achieving many successes as a country.
The event, which was held under the theme ‘Rebranding Ghana to Drive Business Growth: The perspective of women leaders’, brought together leading businesswomen in the country to deliberate on business-related issues, including tourism, to reposition Ghana’s economy for national development.
She noted that: “Women bring fresh perspectives to the table; they excel at developing ideas, inspiring and motivating others, building consensus, and engendering collaboration and teamwork.
“These are critical success factors for organisations and the wider society. When women are not at the table, our nation is worse off for it. As we drive for greater inclusion of women in national development, our country and continent will be the biggest beneficiary.”
After commending participants and organisers of the conference, the First Lady expressed her gratitude to them for collectively coming together to deliberate on what women leaders can do to rebrand Ghana to drive business growth, and not solely talk about what government can do.
As part of the conference, various panel discussions were held to deliberate on issues ranging from personal branding for business development to making Ghana the most-preferred tourism hub in West Africa.
The panellists included Co-founder of Executive Women Network, Lucy Quist; CEO of African Brand Warrior, Fatima Ali Mohammed; Professor Robert Hinson, University of Ghana Business School; Patience Akyianu, CEO Barclays Bank Ghana; Theresa Ayoade, CEO of Charterhouse Ltd.; and Patrick Awuah, President and Founder, Ashesi University.
Other panellists were Yvette Atekpe, Regional Managing Director, Internet Solutions Ghana Ltd.; Adelaide Ahwireng, CEO of Fio Enterprises; and Ivy Apea Owusu, CEO of Cirrus Oil.
Speaking on the issue of discrimination against female bosses, Ms. Fatima Ali Mohammed noted that people – especially employees – need to change their mindset about how female bosses are expected to behave. She said most employees assume female bosses are either too bossy or must be able to empathise.
“We tend to complain when we know we have female bosses. But we want women to be able to empathise, they need to be in our shoes because they are going through the same thing.
“It’s not what comes into an office, it’s not what business is made of – and this is why we really need to change our attitude and our mindset. Why is it that we are okay to take that from a male boss; why is it we aren’t okay to take that from a female boss?” she quizzed.
Speaking on the same issues, Ms. Lucy Quist blamed the situation on the social orientation of people.
“In the context of a female business leader, you have to understand that for many people what they know it is not the norm for them; the things they say about you, the toughness, half of them are not true. Half of them are women equally as tough as a man, not even more; but society says women shouldn’t be that way. So the moment she is that way a little bit, she is this woman that stands out,” she said.
She advised women bosses to be firm and insist on getting the work done, and ensuring that workers achieve their performance expectations.
The Executive Women Network (EWN) is a non-profit organisation of women in senior management and executive positions in private organisations, and women entrepreneurs of well-established businesses in Ghana.