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“What can we do to empower African women?”

CapeTown | September 5, 2019  

From 4-6 September 2019 at CapeTown, South Africa, more than 1,000 delegates participated to the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa. The guiding theme was "Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution".

A key element of shaping an inclusive corporate environment is to promote gender diversity.

This topic was raised at one of the events hosted at the Forum: the Executive Women's Lounge. Organized by the new platform "W Collective", this event offered a dedicated space to debate and to reflect on how can women be more included in the African corporate world. Delphine Traoré, Regional COO and Executive Board Member of Allianz Africa, was invited to share her experience and insights at one of these round tables with other prominent business women and leaders.

During this conference, Delphine Traoré shared insights about her personal experience as an African woman in a leadership position. She insisted on the responsibility of corporate stakeholders to offer equal opportunities to their talents regardless of gender. Indeed, as the number of women sitting on the boards of global companies rises, progress is slow and African women have been largely left out, although with some notable exceptions.

Today, gender equality remains a challenge: according to the World Economic Forum, it will take 208 years in the United States at this rate to achieve gender parity. It is even more urgent in Africa, where women represent only 5% of CEOs and 22% of cabinet members. 

The negative impact of gender inequalities is affecting African economies: gender inequality costs Africa $95 billion a year, which represents 6% of the continent's GDP.  Women’s and girls’ empowerment is essential to expand economic growth and promote social development. The full participation of women in labor forces would add percentage points to most national growth rates—double digits in many cases.

Real investments in education and training are also necessary to decrease the gender gap. In today' digitalized world, gender gap in Africa will be widening with women having lower digital literacy, less access to internet based technologies, and less relevant online content. 

 Delphine Traoré presented how Allianz Africa is working to open doors to female talents and to provide opportunities to foster a diverse workforce:

  • At group-level, Allianz has achieved gender parity across its workforce and continues its efforts to reflect this at management levels by taking deliberate actions to support future female leaders.
  • In 2018, women represented 51.2% of Allianz Group core workforce, 43% at Allianz Africa.
  • Allianz Africa operational entities count 30% of women in their management.

Allianz has launched initiatives aimed at achieving gender parity and equal opportunities. These include the the “JET Program” implemented by Allianz to support non-executive women in driving their career development. This program encourages female mobility across the group. It offers them sponsorship and mentoring programs to support their growth at executive and non-executive positions. To help women rise to top-management positions, Allianz Africa launched the "AZAF4Women" initiative to promote women leaders and offer them specific mentoring. 

Allianz is also raising awareness around the importance of gender balance for business, notably through gender sensitivity training for executive and systematic analysis of policies and practices with regard to gender balance.

Delphine Traoré also raised the issue of financial inclusion, being one of the essential requirements to create equal opportunities for all African women. As a global insurer, Allianz is working to provide financial protection to all, women included. For example, Allianz Africa promotes mobile money as a path for financial inclusion, through the development of several mobile money solutions in Africa. Allianz Africa also provides micro insurance for 500,000 low-income families and individuals, mainly women in Africa.

Originally from Burkina Faso, Delphine Traoré has consistently been ranked as one of the top economic leaders for tomorrow by the Choiseul 100 Africa study. She previously held the position of CEO of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty South Africa. She joined the Regional Executive Board of Allianz Africa as Chief Operations Officer (COO) in February 2017. She is responsible for the development of Allianz’s business on the African continent. Delphine Traoré is a strong advocate for diversity and female leadership at the top-tier positions.