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BCI and New Faces, New Voices Workshop Focuses on Women in Business and Equal Pay

BCI and New Faces, New Voices Workshop Focuses on Women in Business and Equal Pay

As part of the Mozambican Women’s Month celebrations, Banco Comercial e de Investimentos (BCI), in collaboration with New Faces and New Voices, held a seminar on Monday 29 April on the theme “Women in Leadership: Challenging Boundaries in the Corporate World”. The event highlighted women’s distinctive approach to negotiations and the imperative need for recognition and equal pay.

The meeting, held at the BCI auditorium in Maputo, brought together a diverse panel of business leaders and academics to debate the challenges and opportunities for women in Mozambique’s corporate context.

Sofia Cassimo Pitanga, President of the Women Entrepreneurs’ Department at the Mozambican Confederation of Economic Associations (CTA), highlighted women’s particular approach to negotiations, indicating that they tend to seek win-win solutions. “We aim for a negotiation that benefits both us and the other party. We don’t always find the other party prepared for this win-win,” she explained, emphasising the need for Mozambican women to adapt and improve their negotiating strategies.

Esselina Macome, executive director of FSD Mozambique and also a chairmans at Standard Bank, spoke about the pay gap between men and women, emphasising that although national policies do not provide for pay differences between genders, the reality in companies paints a different picture. “We see cases where people with the same functions and qualifications are paid unequally, with women often receiving less,” she explained.

In addition, the executive director of FSD Mozambique highlighted the results of a study carried out by her team, which points to a worrying trend in salary negotiations. “Our research revealed that many women tend to negotiate lower salaries. They prioritise job security over salary value, unlike men, for whom the final salary amount is a decisive element in the negotiation,” she commented. This phenomenon, she said, contributes significantly to wage inequality and represents a challenge to women’s economic empowerment.

For his part, Francisco Costa, CEO of the BCI, brought up the need to eliminate the gender divide in leadership. “We cannot allow gender differences in the way we approach leadership,” he said, emphasising that leadership must be a transversal competence, regardless of gender.

The BCI CEO also encouraged greater male participation in discussions on gender equality, emphasising that “this is not just a process for women, but for everyone”.

Laila Chilemba, vice president of public relations at TotalEnergies, addressed the specific challenges women face in traditionally male-dominated industries such as the oil and gas sector. “Discrimination begins with the stereotype that this is a male sector, questioning women’s presence with doubts such as ‘why are you here?’ or ‘you’re not a man, you can’t do that’,” she explained.

The TotalEnergies executive emphasised that the low representation of women in science and engineering contributes to the persistence of these stereotypes and barriers. “Few women enter and even fewer complete careers in these areas. Those that persist need to confront not only outdated mentality, but also a historical and cultural legacy that minimises the role of women in such fields,” she said, also stressing the importance of recognising gender equality as a fundamental human right.

Denise Cortes Keyser, CEO of Dunia Resources, SA and motivational speaker, criticised the dual treatment of the formal and informal sectors, especially when it comes to female entrepreneurship. “We know that no woman starts a business without having spent some time in the informal sector,” Cortes observed, pointing to the need for policies that recognise and support the transition from informal to formal, which is essential for women entrepreneurs.

And she argued for a realistic vision of the economy that recognises the significant role of informal activities. “The real economy is where around 90 per cent operate informally, often facing harsh conditions and being ignored by financial institutions, except when it benefits microcredit and loan sharks,” she argued. Denise Cortes Keyser stressed the importance of recognising and empowering local entrepreneurs, particularly women, who in her opinion are fundamental but undervalued. “While we focus on macroeconomic figures, the real entrepreneurial spirit lies in the hands of those who sustain the day-to-day economy, like the women who cross borders carrying significant flows of money not recognised by official metrics.”

Following the discussion, the panel moved on to the second phase, in which they sought to gather experiences from companies in order to maximise opportunities for women in the business sector. In this context, Sofia Cassimo Pitanga, chair of the women entrepreneurs’ department at CTA, highlighted the organisation’s efforts to support the formalisation and empowerment of women entrepreneurs in Mozambican.

“CTA plays a fundamental role in advocating for the formalisation of companies. We have, for example, our support office for entrepreneurs, which has done some work in this direction with partners. And the department for women entrepreneurs has set up an initiative – CTA Women and Business – which includes all the steps for formalisation and the costs involved,” she explained. Sofia Cassimo Pitanga also stressed the importance of networking and exchanging experiences between formalised and non-formalised women, with a view not only to formalisation but also to business training through partnerships with various organisations.

Francisco Costa discussed inclusive practices in the workplace, highlighting the BCI’s measures to support women. “At BCI, we give four months’ maternity leave,” he said, recognising that although equal rights are constitutionally guaranteed, daily practice reveals significant challenges. “Things are not as simple as they seem; legislating is not enough to guarantee equitable practices,” he said. He also explained that, despite formal policies promoting equal opportunities, effective implementation depends on the interpretation and conscious application of these policies throughout the organisational structure.

Denise Cortes Keyser added that women face many obstacles in their careers, especially in traditionally male sectors. “Banking was a very macho sector. Women were relegated to supporting roles. I worked in banking myself, and I know what it’s like,” she said, emphasising the evolution needed in the industry.

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The chairman of the executive board of Dunia Resources, SA also criticised the attitude of some women who reach the top and don’t try to support others: “There are many who have reached the top and want to be alone because they think it’s ‘sexy’ to be on a board by themselves. But we need to change that. We need to support each other and create a self-help cluster,” she finalised.



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