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A “DOUBLE WHAMMY”

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Motherhood hinders growth for women

Motherhood hinders career growth for many women, but experts say mothers can combat this issue by upskilling while they are away from work.Research shows that having women in leadership roles helps companies perform better financially, and companies in Africa have certainly adopted this approach, seating more women on their boards and executive committees than the global average.

But only one in twenty of these women make it to the very top. Experts say starting a family is a big reason why this is happening. “It’s a big issue in the finance industry globally,” says Justin Kyriakou, International Development Manager for the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).AAT is an organisation that offers qualifications in practical skills development in accounting.
It has been operating in Botswana for the past 30 years with over 130,000 members and students worldwide. Approximately two thirds of AAT members and students are female.

“There’s a big gender pay gap in the sector because many highly-skilled women often put their careers on hold at middle management level to start a family, and then instead of progressing into senior management roles, either don’t return to work or stagnate in their current role.”In Botswana, according to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap report published in 2018, the average age of women at the birth of their first child is 30-years-old, and an average of 84 days maternity leave is taken. This can have a negative effect on their career.

Leaving to start a family and then staying away from the workplace for long stretches of time makes it very difficult to return. But it has less to do with a person’s actual skills than it does with perceptions that permeate the business environment.In research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2008 titled ´Motherhood: A potential source of bias in employment decisions,’ negative expectations in terms of their commitment and dependability was found to be a major driver behind the bias against mothers in the workplace. The findings suggested that motherhood does hinder career advancement and that gender stereotypes are the source of motherhood’s negative consequences on career growth.  Kenyan journalist, Kwamboka Ovaro, in an article about gender representation in leadership roles across the continent wrote:

“The belief among many Africans that a woman’s career should complement – not interfere with – her family responsibilities is a traditional notion of a woman’s role that fails to acknowledge the benefits of gender diversity to society.” This is a global issue too. According to research from the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM), women in the workplace worldwide are still expected to shoulder more than 50 percent of childcare and other family duties, which essentially prevents them from working long hours. But to get promoted, a number of organisations can expect them to be assertive and work long hours. It’s a “double whammy” that can be very demotivating, the authors of the study noted.

“Mothers can suffer a lack of support from their employers when they return to their careers, and don’t receive enough help to balance their time between work and childcare, or have managers and colleagues who are inflexible with working hours or deadlines,” comments Kyriakou. “At the very worst, the difficulty of getting back into work can make some women leave their jobs entirely. Losing these women could be bad for employers because the business will lose their knowledge and skills and could suffer damage as a result.” For Kyriakou, tackling this issue must come from two places, starting with employers.

“Employers should try to ensure they stay in contact with those who have to take time out of their jobs,” he says. “If they are on maternity leave, ‘keep in touch’ days during that period could be arranged where the new mother can come in to see colleagues and perhaps do some work so that they stay connected to their team and can hit the ground running when they come back full-time.”
An organisation which offers flexible working solutions, AAT recently published a study comparing the productivity of a group of workers who set their own hours or working location against those who are not doing so, and found that the former benefit from feeling happier and less stressed.

Associate Professor Linda Ronnie, Dean of the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Cape Town who participated in the GNAM research agrees that: “senior managers have the power to exacerbate or relieve the pressure employees are feeling to conform to perceived expectations.”On the other hand, says Kyriakou, the responsibility also falls on the mothers to keep their skills sharp.
“To give yourself the best chance of being able to return to your career after taking time out, it is important to keep on top of your career development, for example through some short training or studying for new qualifications,” he says. “It’s important to keep learning throughout life, not just for mothers, because technology and society move so fast that those who don’t keep learning soon get left behind.”

He says that with the renewed effort in Botswana to build the finance industry in trying to diversify its economy, AAT Botswana has seen a steady growth in the number of women enrolling in its courses. And many of them are mothers.

“We see students who have just had babies come to study for our qualifications,” he says, “because they are flexible and they can fit the studying around taking care of their babies. “And, of course, every business needs an accountant, so there is a lot of scope for women entering the finance industry.”He says that many of the women who have studied with AAT Botswana have gone on to start their own businesses with the skills they acquired.

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A welcome snitch

Yvonne Mooka

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CELLPHONE TRACKER: Tebogo Aaron says criminals have labelled him a snitch for helping the police track people’s stolen property

Tebogo Aaron works hand-in-hand with Botswana Police Service to track down missing and stolen cellphones.

In an interview with The Midweek Sun, the 38-year-old man from Mahalapye says that on average, he traces between 25 and 50 mobile phones per day. He runs a store called Gadgets + Collectables, with two branches in Airport Junction and Phakakane’s Acacia mall.

Even though he sells a variety of gadgets, among them cellphones, Bluetooth speakers, laptops, it is the business of cellphone tracking that has given him a niche in the market. The Business Management and IT graduate says that his cellphone tracking business makes him stand out. “We are now in the era of cellphones. Almost every person has a cellphone and again, people steal them at a high rate,” he says.

Aaron provides police with leads, allowing them to do recoveries. He helps people who come with a police affidavit. “I have attracted hate from thugs thinking I’m a snitch,” he laughs.
But how long does it take for him to track down a cellphone? He says that the gadget becomes traceable the moment a sim card gets inserted inside.

His observation is that people have a tendency of buying stolen gadgets something he says is risky as one ends up charged by the police for buying a stolen item.
“Thugs steal phones with the intention to sell them, not to keep them. They want fast cash,” he says. And he says that thieves would go to an extent of creating fake Facebook pages to sell their stolen cellphones.

“Immediately after selling them, they delete the social media accounts while the buyer is left with it. People must take precaution,” he says. One of the people who have benefited from Aaron’s service, Lerato Lepang says her phone and wallet were snatched from her on June 4 in Molepolole.

“I reported with the police. A week later I heard of Gadgets + Collectables and decided to give it a shot. I went to the store on July 13 with a police affidavit as well as my phone details.“Five days later I received a call from them saying they had details of someone who had my phone,” she says. Another person Masego Mokgwatlheng says Aaron managed to recover her phone after a month in June.

She had forgotten it in a cab and traces showed that the cab driver had sold it to a Zimbabwean man. “I am now using my phone. It was made easier because I had a police affidavit,” she says. In addition to cellphone tracking, Aaron also tracks lost or stolen pets, bicycles and luggage. He has five employees.

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Mixed reactions to Masisi’s law on home-operated businesses

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President Mokgweetsi Masisi intends to simplify the process of starting micro-businesses to make it less demanding. This entails retracting licenses for starting small businesses such as tuckshop, manicures and many others.

The Midweek Sun went out on the streets to hear views of the people about the new bill.A boutique owner based in Kanye Thapelo Dioka said it is a good initiative but he worries that Batswana will even set-up businesses which are not environmentally friendly.

“I have long struggled and been unable to rent out my spare bedrooms to try feed my family, due to stringent procedures of acquiring licenses,” said Dioka. Kolobetso Maswabi lamented that for a long time young people have been paying expensive rentals. The new law will help in starting and maintaining businesses as there will be no rentals to pay.

“For some of us who stay next to big malls the law will be an advantage, I am going to operate business in the backyard,” she says. However some had doubts about the new law, describing it as a campaign strategy and a desperate effort to gain political mileage. They will only believe it when it is signed into law.

“Why would he retract licenses when elections are about to take place and there is a need for them to explain more on what they mean about small scale businesses,” asked another entrepreneur.

Tiraone Basenyafela, an entrepreneur with disability who does leather works, lamented that they have long endured charges for licenses and at times failure to renew the licenses results in losing them.

“I believe that only big shops should be required to have licenses, not small businesses and struggling individuals like me,” said Basenyafela.

President Masisi explained that the new law intends to help Batswana improve their livelihoods and graduate from poverty, but added that licenses will still be required for those seeking to deal in food businesses and others that could be potentially unfriendly to the environment.

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