Koo Govender

CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network South Africa

For International Women's Day 2020, we spoke to Koo Govender, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network South Africa, about the importance of women in leadership positions, our Female Foundry programme and what #EachForEqual means to her.

Why do you think it's important to have more women in leadership?

Over the last 28 years, I have been in many situations where I have been one of the few females around a boardroom table. The diversity of thought amongst different genders is crucial to create a balanced, collaborative, creative, successful and thriving workplace that not only breeds diversity but encourages women to have a voice and to be heard. However, giving more women a seat at the boardroom table is more than just creating diversity, it acts as an inspiration and creates a knock-on effect for other future female leaders to grow, aspire and to make a meaningful impact.

What interested you in Female Foundry and why do you think it was important to implement in South Africa?

Personally, I am extremely passionate about female empowerment which interested me in launching the programme in our market. Although Africa has the highest growth rate in female-run businesses in the world, according to the World Bank, there are enormous challenges such as gender bias, lack of funding, lack of networking, lack of mentorship and coaching as well as persistent norms and stereotypes that women entrepreneurs need to consistently overcome.

Fortunately, at DAN South Africa, 69% of our employees are female. However, we still have a responsibility to our community to take an active stand in bridging the gap in gender parity across South Africa. Launching Female Foundry allowed us the opportunity to assist with the gender parity gap in South Africa and to give support to female led businesses by strengthening and futureproofing their businesses for growth and success. In today’s competitive environment and complex economy, mentorship is even more vital to ensure we empower and equip female run businesses to thrive.

What does #EachforEqual mean to you?

“An equal world is an enabled world.”

Equality is not a women’s issue, but it is an issue that we continue to face in society and an issue that each woman needs to see as an opportunity in order to make a difference. To me, #EachforEqual stands for seeing more women seated around a boardroom table and taking up senior leadership positions with equal renumeration, equal authority and equal opportunity as well being given a platform to lead by example. Personally, success is one aspect of my life but equally important, is significance. I want to make a positive difference for women and enable them to be successful in the corporate world.

Let's all aspire to be #EachforEqual.