Making your company a place where women progress


A webinar with business leaders examines how to help women advance in their careers.

To mark Women’s Day, OneStream Software supported a webinar themed ‘Lift while you rise’ to discuss various elements of women’s journeys into leadership positions in business.

The panel featured Refiloe Nkadimeng, CFO of African Rainbow Capital, Aneshree Naidoo, CFO of Webber Wentzel and Simonia Marimuthoo, enterprise account executive at OneStream. They were joined by Brad Wentzel, CFO of Douglasdale Dairy, who spoke about his belief in supporting women in his team and profession.

Aneshree said being deliberate about upliftment is important:

“There will always be challenges in the workplace and given that people experience challenges at different stages of their career, my point of view is that the hardest was in the beginning of my career.”

Not being given space to voice your opinion or being valued is very difficult, she said.

Male support and sponsorship
Refilwe said sponsorship and mentorship is hugely valuable for women’s progression. She pointed to an instance early in her career where a male boss gave her the opportunity to run a project and trusted her to perform well even though it was something she had never done before. This vote of confidence was a huge boost and helped her believe in herself more.

Aneshree agreed and said thankfully, female leadership sponsorship has increased as her career has progressed and more women have progressed. She pointed out that while most of the responsibility to change the gender dynamic lies with leaders, everyone in the organisation who sees that a woman is being passed over, ignored or being treated unfairly has a role to play in uplifting them by speaking out or advocating in some other way.

Simonia said equality is a value that must be reflected in the culture. She explained that OneStream has seven core values including ‘value everyone’, ‘demonstrate kindness’, and ‘keep learning’. These should not just be relegated to improving company performance, but should also be applied to gender transformation. She said having the space to live out values is crucial. “Our team members have space to come up with ideas around inclusivity. For example this led to the One Pride initiative, which is all about providing an inclusive environment for LGBTQI employees.”

Brad commented that policies that are inclusive not only benefit women, but positively impact men in the workplace too. He said, “The challenge that business has is that women are often overlooked in the boys’ clubs formed in business. There is a common idea that women need to be treated with kid gloves, but my experience is that women have more EQ and are incredibly resilient. Women are often pigeon-holed into background positions, and my approach has been to put women in more front-facing, decision-making roles. For instance, our finance manager is a woman, and our production executive is a woman who manages over 200 people. They are capable and excellent at what they do.”

Refilwe said being supported by men is great but what has been especially pivotal to her journey has been learning from women who are further along the path and seeing how they have approached their careers. “I was inspired by a female CEO who had a family and thriving career, which gave me the perspective that having a full work and family life is possible. Hearing her speak was an eye-opening experience that made me more proactive in expressing to my boss that I had ambitions to grow and do more. It drove me to have bold conversations around my own progression and really helped me push my career further.” She said this encounter was so impactful, she revised her decision to delay motherhood and had three children while in executive positions.

Flexibility and agility in the face of women’s changing needs
Brad said the old-fashioned idea that women need to be in caregiving roles needs to be changed. He pointed out that as a society we have moved to a situation where the majority of households need dual incomes to meet their financial obligations. “Companies need to support women with solid opportunities to meet the demands we all face,” he said. “We also need to shift away from the idea that maternity leave is an inconvenience or a terrible thing. Women need to know they have a safe place upon their return to the workplace and have peace of mind that their career will still be there if they need to step away.”

Simonia agreed that the ability to respond to the changes in employees’ circumstances is one of the most compelling traits of OneStream. The company supported Simonia in changing roles after her priorities changed following the Covid-19 pandemic, KZN looting and then the floods. “Feeling safe and empowered to change is very important for women in the workplace,” she noted.

Aneshree closed by saying that women shouldn’t always wait to be invited in the room, that they should be bold and brave enough to raise their hand for opportunities where they think they can contribute their skills and talents.


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