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84% of Female Employees in Africa Learned New Skills Since the COVID Crisis, According to Survey

For International Women’s Day 2021, the theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’. Why is this year’s theme so important? Because, from great challenges come great changes. And this idea of change is very noticeable for all people today, thanks to the huge challenges the pandemic caused regarding how and where we work, and to the very idea of work for many people. For this year’s International Women’s Day, Michael Page Africa looked back across its 2020 surveys and compiled the results for female professionals, and, well, the results make for very interesting reading. During 2020, 642 women who applied for a role through Michael Page Africa, shared via a survey how they felt about their jobs, skills, remote working – almost the whole world of employment and job seeking.  

From challenge comes change – and 2020 had both 

The world can agree that 2020 was a challenge for everyone. It tested the resilience, career expectations, and the stress management of the whole world. Despite the challenges women faced, we can say that they were taking their career in both hands and trying to change it for the better. During 2020, 84% of female job applicants learnt new skills related to their roles, and, supporting the idea that women are taking control of their careers, 60% started to apply for roles outside of their current sector and/or position. And, importantly, a majority of them, i.e., 60% of female job applicants did this to improve their ability to be innovative at work. These three statistics highlight that women know they need to take control of their situation, as many companies offer training and career progression, but seemingly not enough for today’s female professionals, as our statistics show them searching for more.  

Women also hope that the world will experience some positive outcomes from the difficulties faced last year, with a majority of 73% thinking the pandemic will bring about positive effects in general. 81% also firmly believe that the global conversations about “key-workers” and “essential jobs” will bring about more respect for certain roles which are, more often than not, female dominated, such as areas of healthcare like nursing, teaching and retail work. How will your company make sure the women in your organisation are leading this positive change?  

How did female professionals cope with 2020?​  

During 2020, we also asked female job applicants visiting our website what they thought about flexible work, about their motivation while working from home, and their thoughts on job security. More than half of our surveyed female professionals, i.e., 57% felt confident they would have job security for at least the next 12 months. In terms of flexible work, 58% of our female job applicants said their productivity increased while they were working from home, which is a good endorsement for flexible work as a policy for companies. 55% would like to be able to work remotely more in the future, even when a sense of normality has returned. Perhaps this is because of the motivation factor: with 54% of our surveyed women explaining their motivation decreased while working from home, Michael Page Africa has a question for all employers reading this article: do you know how your female employees feel today?  

Choose to challenge and choose to change 

As the International Women’s Day official website explains: A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.​ We can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements.​ Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.​ From challenge comes change, so let’s all #ChooseToChallenge. “We know that a diverse team brings different perspectives and insight to our business, generating creativity, problem-solving and sustainability that wouldn’t otherwise be possible”, shares Julien Raze, Head of Africa, Michael Page. If you would like to talk to us about gender diversity in your organisation, how to hire for gender diversity, or to hear the story of how we are changing our company to help you change yours, get in touch with us.”

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