Active collaboration for powerful social change
Tamu Dutuma, Technology Head of Strategy, Governance and Reporting, Absa.
An organisation that is fully committed to supporting the gender diversity issue and works very hard to achieve equality for its female employees is Absa. It has become known for its innovative women-friendly initiatives, such as its breastfeeding pods. In addition to the internal initiatives supporting women in the workplace, Absa believes it is vital to continually create awareness of gender equality and support as many women as it can.
“We actively seek to align with strategic partners to further amplify the call for gender equality and reach a much wider audience,” says Tamu Dutuma, Absa Technology’s head of strategy, governance and reporting. "One of the organisations that we work with is Women in Tech (WiT), which is on a mission to empower five million women in the technology sector by 2030.
"Our collaboration with WiT provides a broader platform to join forces and strengthen the social responsibility work that we do. For Absa, engaging with WiT allows us to collaborate with and tap into a pool of talented individuals. Our employees also benefit from the initiatives that we undertake; this includes networking events where they meet like-minded people in the technology industry. We also run an internal mentorship programme and WiT’s mentees are part of it and provide guidance to our colleagues.
"The Women in Tech Africa Awards is part of our collaboration. The event is focused on celebrating the remarkable women from Africa who innovate, inspire and transform the technology sector as we know it. If I consider the awards – the relationship’s starting point – WiT’s categories speak to the essence of recognising those who have dedicated their careers to innovation and made an active contribution to the technology industry. We have chosen to sponsor WiT’s Global Leadership Award and Lifetime Achievement Award categories.
“At Absa, we are committed to women taking leading roles and our conviction in nurturing leaders is exemplified through many initiatives such as our dedicated Leadership Academy, designed to empower and refine our leaders. The leadership award is a testament of our passion to honour an exemplary leader who has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills, driven transformative change and made an impact on a global scale.
“The lifetime award recognises what both men and women are doing to consistently contribute to the advancement of the technology industry, leaving a lasting legacy. Both awards acknowledge the trailblazers, who are identified through a rigorous and independent selection process.”
WiT’s initiatives, such as the “This is Me programme”, Philippi Village computer centre, PowHer events and mentorship programme all have Absa’s support. Absa is also a 50-50 sponsor of the AWS #She Builds Women in Tech cloud certification programme, with both companies donating funds to cover the cost of the 50 women participating in this programme.
“Cloud is significant in Absa’s world and cloud skills are very much in demand. Obtaining this certification means that you will acquire essential skills that are highly sought-after, thus significantly enhancing the employability and career prospects of all participants in this programme." Dutuma envisions a future marked by greater collaboration between Absa and WiT, with an ambitious aim to expand current initiatives to create a bigger impact for communities, as well as Absa employees. “I would like to see us extending the breadth of our network and enhancing the growth of our mentorship programme to ensure broader accessibility for women seeking mentorship. Through this collaboration, we hope to explore ways to drive programmes across borders, helping us to expand our geography into the various African countries where we have a footprint.
Looking at skills development, Absa is also involved in multiple endeavours that include South Africa’s youth and is working on developing more sustainable ways to help unemployed youth gain access to transferable skills through education, training and jobs. Looking at just this year, Absa has 572 beneficiaries in the various programmes, who will one day add to the country’s workforce. These include the nine-year strong Digital Academy, which is aimed at closing the skills gaps in the technology and banking industries, by focusing on recruiting young individuals, including learners with disabilities, who are motivated and have a natural aptitude for software development.
Absa’s Cybersecurity Academy, in partnership with the Maharishi Invincibility Institute and the Hein Wagner Academy for the blind, are aimed at empowering marginalised South African youth to become certified cyber security specialists. The academy’s latest cohort of 20 graduating students was 70% female. UVU Africa, previously known as Cape Innovation Technology Initiative (CiTi), runs various skills initiatives focused on scarce, critical and future skills, including salesforce and full stack development. Geeks4Learning is another organisation Absa works with that runs a training academy to develop the next generation of top IT talent and salesforce administrators and developers.
“Being an active force for good in the communities we serve is very important and the collaboration with WiT and our various partners is one of the ways that we can give back to our communities, affording us the potential to uplift not only individual women in the technology sector, but also their communities,” he concludes.