EABL In Drive For More ‘Progressive’ Gender Depiction In AdvertisingEABL In Drive For More ‘Progressive’ Gender Depiction In Advertising

Corporate organisations need to be deliberate about driving gender diversity in the workplace to nurture more progressive roles for women, an agenda for many companies and brands across Africa, one of the leading industry captains has said.

Kenya Breweries Managing Director, Jane Karuku, said whereas there is increased understand and acknowledgement of gender issues in the region, businesses need to be decisively progressive if they expect to reap the benefits of a more balanced approach.

“Women are increasingly overcoming societal barriers, but we must continue having genuine conversations about everything we do at work, and other facets of our lives, with greater boldness to challenging the status quo. At EABL, believe our continued focus on diversity and inclusion unlocks huge advantage for our business and creates the conditions for every employee to be at their very best. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is core to our business purpose and strategy,” she said in an online panel on Progressive Gender Portrayal in marketing.

Karuku, who also sits at the board of East African Breweries Limited (EABL), said the listed company is pursuing gender diversity from the top, with 37 per cent of the company’s board members and 38 per cent of the Group’s executives comprising women from an average of 20 per cent about a decade ago. A month ago, EABL appointed Ory Okollo, a renowned leader in a corporate and non-profit leader, as a non-executive director to the board.

The session discussed the role of advertising in shaping culture, the historic misrepresentation of women in advertising and strategies and partnerships to support more progressive gender portrayal in content. The panel included Agnes Gathaiya, Google’s Country Director in charge of East Africa, Grainne Wafer, Global Brand Director for Guinness and Graham Villiers- Tuthill, EABL’s Marketing and Innovations Director. Serengeti Breweries Limited (SBL) Managing Director Mark Ocitti and Megha Dutta, an executive creative director at JWT, a local advertising firm.

One of the biggest advertisers in East Africa, EABL is pioneering ways in which the marketing fraternity can show more “progressive” portrayals of people in their marketing communication, with the growing body of research indicating more industries are failing to show women in forward-looking roles.

Villiers-Tuthill said: “Brands that want to get gender right must start by being bold, by consciously considering gender issues and challenging the status quo. As corporates and marketers, we must then acknowledge and embrace gender differences by recognising outdated, over-simplistic targeting assumptions that reinforce old decision-making paradigms.”

Mark Ocitti, the SBL MD, said that while there is no direct connection between the progressive portrayal of women and a company’s financial or stock fortunes, a brand’s authenticity is bound to be noticed over time.

“Across the region, the consumer is more exposed – and more so the contemporary woman: they have seen what other global brands are doing, they are more aware than they were two decades ago,” said Ocitti.

Culled from Capitalfm

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