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Businesses urged to embrace diversity in age, gender, and ethnicity

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The International Business Report conducted by Grant Thornton indicates that there is a need for diversity in businesses in age, gender and ethnicity. The report indicates that in Botswana, 58 percent of businesses believe ethnic diversity is important to their success, while 40 percent of businesses in other countries believe ethnicity is important for their growth, and 14 percent are taking action to improve the diversity of their senior teams According to the report, many businesses globally are missing out on opportunities because of a lack of diversity in senior leadership teams. “This means that a business does not necessarily reflect the markets or communities in which they operate, and it could be holding them back,” states the report. About 2 500 business leaders in 35 countries were captured in this report.

“We find that businesses are, for the most part, not ethnically or gender diverse. Age diverse teams are more common, although it is far from the norm to have a senior team member who is under 35 years old” reads the report. Grant Thornton Botswana Partner, Anjaya Suresh said diversity of thought gives businesses a competitive edge, and thus businesses need to embrace diversity in age, gender and ethnicity in their work force especially at senior management level, and look for ways to become inclusive organisations. “A diverse workforce is a reflection of a changing world and marketplace, and organisations should thrive to reflect the markets or communities in which they operate within their business model. There are many challenges in managing a diverse workforce that requires strategic planning beyond simply acknowledging differences in people,” she said.

She said strategic planning involves recognising the value of differences, combating discrimination, and promoting inclusiveness. “It is pleasing to note that African business leaders are at the forefront in acknowledging the importance of diversity, and I encourage local business leaders to grasp the opportunity to promote the growth of businesses and our community at large through diversification,” said Suresh. The report also indicates that in 2017, globally one in four senior roles are now held by women but only 25 percent, parity between men and women at executive level is still a long way off. In terms of age 51 percent majority of businesses think an age diverse team is important, which appears to reflect the composition of senior teams, while Botswana reflects a significantly higher belief in the importance of age diversity at 72 percent. Suresh highlighted that there is still a gap between perceived importance of age diversity and plans to improve it.

“Only 16 percent of businesses globally, and 12 percent of businesses in Botswana are taking action to extend their age range,” she said, adding that 26 percent of senior teams, globally, include an individual who is older than 64 years old, while 24 percent have a senior member who is aged 35 or younger. In Botswana, 10 percent of senior teams include an individual who is older than 64 years old, and 72 percent have a senior member who is aged 35 or younger. She explained that businesses should check for gaps in their perspective and consider expanding the skill set of senior teams by reaching out to different age groups who may bring a different generational perspective to key business issues like digitalisation and automation.

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SMEs benefit from Consumer Fair growth

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The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has applauded Botswana Consumer Fair’s continued efforts to improve small to medium enterprises’ linkages.

BITC Chief Executive Officer, Keletsositse Olebile, when opening the fair, said the event has provided interactive forum for both local and foreign exhibitors. He said the shopping show has enabled manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to market their products directly to consumers, an alignment to government’s endeavors.

“As part of government intention, we continually encourage local sourcing by retailers and distributors,” said Olebile who is just few months into his new post. He further celebrated the growth of Botswana Consumer Fair over the years, attributing the expansion to quality of goods displayed at the previous shows.“Improved quality and increased variety of wares increases the interest of the visitors and makes them look forward to returning the following year,” said Olebile.

This year’s exhibitors at the 13th event still running under the banner: ‘It is more than just shopping’ have been drawn from Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, India, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Consumer Fair is a flagship event for Fairgrounds Holdings and provides a platform for small medium enterprises (SMEs) from the different sectors of the economy to showcase and promote their products and services. In addition, the SMEs are expected to establish long term business linkages and promote local manufactured goods.Fairgrounds Holdings is already optimistic that the Fair immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through supporting SMEs.

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‘Involve SMMEs in standards development’-Minister

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo appealed to Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to include the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) when developing the standards to improve the sector.

She said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has identified three areas of focus going forward which are modeled on SMME development, investment promotion and export development apexes. “I would like to implore you to include this sector in standards development processes and assist in improving SMMEs conformity to standards and compliance to technical regulations,” said Kenewendo.

Speaking during the BOBS Technical Committee Members appreciation ceremony on Thursday, Kenewendo explained that the important roles of standards are underpinned by the aspirations and intentions espoused in both diversified export led economic growth and job creation as priority areas. “It goes without saying that the diversification of the economy requires a National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework that promote competitiveness of Botswana goods and services.”

She also emphasized that an effective National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework are essential as they provide crucial links to global trade, market access and export competitiveness through their contribution to consumer confidence in product safety, quality and the environment.Since inception in 1997 BOBS has published more than 1700 standards through 48 technical committees across several sectors of the economy; 109 certification licences have been issued against some of these standards. Currently 46 Botswana Standards are being implemented through the standards regulations with a view to protecting the health and safety of consumers as well as protection of the environment.

On her note, BOBS Vice Chairperson of the Standards Council, Professor Edward Dintwa said standards are powerful tools for helping organisations that implement them to realize their potential, have access and compete in the global marketplace. “In this highly competitive and complex world, issues of sustainability and productivity, viewed from economic, environmental and societal perspectives require that businesses must be more efficient in their operations, which can be achieved through the implementation of standards”.

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