By Brenda Kageni

As organisations seek to introduce diversity in the workplace, gender balance is one of those key areas of concern. There is a growing realisation that women face challenges in the workplace and that this can sometimes hinder their career progression.

In an effort to raise their profile and foster a more inclusive working environment, Barclays Bank began the Women Network Forum to provide a supportive environment to enhance women’s careers and champion their role in the workplace.

The forum was introduced in Kenya this year and has so far supported women to progress to senior levels through mentoring, coaching and exposure.

Heads of departments at Barclays Bank show their joy following the Barclays Women Network Forum last Tuesday. With them is the visiting Managing Director Barclaycard-Africa Maripi Jalandoni (In green). Photos: Jenipher Wachie/Standard  Maripi Jalandoni

In a recent event, Maripi Jalandoni, the Managing Director of Barclaycard-Africa, challenged women in senior positions to be more proactive in networking. She also encouraged them to focus on their strengths.

Women awards

"Often, we tend to focus on the two bad things said about us during an appraisal and ignore the eight good ones."

Maripi summarises the formula for women’s success in organisations to capability, confidence and commitment.

"Let us be selected, retained and developed because we are better than anyone else, male or female," she said.

The forum hopes to enhance the bank’s ability to attract and retain talented women in business.

This is part of their Diversity and Inclusion initiative, which was started in 2008 to create a workplace that recognises employee differences, encourages colleagues to demonstrate inclusive behaviours, and aims to ensure employees have the opportunity to maximise their full potential.

"Through the diversity programme, we hope to get more women to senior management. We are making a conscious effort to identify talented women. It’s tough being the only woman on the table," said Jalandoni.

However, women have to be prepared beforehand for these opportunities, she says.

"Find something at which you will be better than others. Be prepared, hone your graph and make the opportunity to meet the right people.

"Customers are a diverse lot and their needs are always changing," Jalandoni continued. "Our employees need also to be diverse and to look into the changing needs of our clients. Our diversity needs to be in terms of age, gender, cultural competence and intellectual capability. Just because you are young doesn’t mean you can’t be good. And even if you are old you can still be energetic."

In addition to the forum, Barclays organises the Women of the Year Awards to recognise exceptional professional achievements from women around the world.

The event is run in conjunction with Barclays sponsorship of the International Women of the Year Award.