SA's women in the spotlight are charting new paths and opening doors for women in the workplace
On Sunday 1st May South Africans across the country will take a moment to pay tribute to the millions of working men and women who carried the baton and held their heads high during an unprecedented year of challenges in all our lives.
It will be many years before we can really comprehend the impact this past year has had on the workplace and especially on the lives of working women. According to the latest study by Statistics SA, not only have women borne the brunt of job cuts and losses, they now also need to take on more caring responsibilities. This has resulted in more women than men exiting the workforce – resulting in a reverse of the progress that has been made toward achieving gender equality in the workplace. Add to this the major issues that working women still face - lack of confidence and support, double standards and financial struggles – and it’s clear that there has never been a time when women have needed inspiration and support more.
This is where the Bernini Squadcast Series steps in. First introduced during Women’s Month 2020, this series of podcasts has fast become a go-to Spotify podcast series for women - who find inspiration and value in the honest, open conversations with confident, strong, successful women in the spotlight. Each episode features a panel of phenomenal women in the spotlight who share their vulnerabilities, their personal experiences and their professional journeys on the road to success – and their entertaining and insightful conversations about topics that matter to women clearly resonate.
The upcoming episode will focus on women in the workplace and will be accessible on Spotify on Sunday 2 May. Founder and editor of stylish digital publication The Throne, Caron Williams; multi-award winning television host and entrepreneur Kim Jayde; and the first female co-founder of a record label in Africa – Ninel Musson are the three phenomenal women who will join new host Nomndeni Mdakhi in conversation.
A passionate proponent of female empowerment, Mdakhi is the founder of Agenda Women - an online platform that brings women together to learn from each other and grow. Topics under discussion are set to spark lively conversation – How are women making space for other women and why is this important? Why is it so important that we have female role models in positions of power? How can we start building ourselves, our careers and be the change we want to see in the working world?
One of South Africa’s celebrated pioneers in the PR industry, Farah Fortune aka ‘the pitbull in heels’ joined the conversation for episode 7 of the series. Phenomenal is definitely a word that aptly describes this multi-award winning entrepreneur, who has been opening doors for women in the workplace for over a decade. Her achievements include a United Nations Chairwomen’s Award for the work she has done to empower women; an award from the Women’s World Congress in India; and being named among the Top 50 individuals in the world who have excelled in social innovation.
Grounded, strong and graceful, she recently made it onto the Mail and Guardian’s Most Powerful Women in SA list for 2020. We asked her about her work, what drives her and why she decided to take up the baton for uplifting women in the workplace.
Q: Your company African Star Communications is women-owned and run, and you have been creating space for women in the media industry for the past 13 years. Tell us why.
Spaces within the industry in marketing and PR are very limited contrary to public perception. It’s important we create these spaces so women are able to thrive and build their own platforms.
Q: What was it like working as a publicist for Tsotsi, South Africa’s first Oscar-winning movie?
I really enjoyed it. It was my entry into international PR and I’m so thankful Ster-Kinekor gave me the opportunity to experience work on an Oscar winning movie. It was fast paced, stressful yet fun and really gave South Africa an opportunity to showcase our talent.
Q: What is the key role of the modern female entrepreneur today with regard to paving the way for other women?
The key role would be to provide opportunities to build a legacy and hold the door open for other female entrepreneurs. So often we are trying to carve our own way and we forget to lift other women up with us.
Q: You’ve opened up about how hard it has been to make your way to the top in your industry. Who are the women who lifted you up along the way when you fell and helped you back on the road to success?
My mom was mostly this person, I unfortunately had little help from women during my journey and this is why it’s so important to uplift women now. I understand however, the struggle is so real and everyone is just trying to make it, sometimes we forget we have to be there for one another.
Q: What are the key things you’ve learnt along the way in your business journey and how can your lessons help other women?
One of the key points I learned was really to network as much as possible. The saying ‘your network is your net-worth’ is VERY true. Network as much as possible. Build your contact base as much as you can.
Q: Many women will want to listen to the 7th episode of the Squadcast Series which is accessible on Spotify now - with yourself, Ami Faku and Courtnae Paul in the hot seat. What did you most enjoy about the conversation? Also, where can women find the podcast?
I enjoyed the honesty from everyone the most. None of us glamourized the hardships along the way and that’s important - to be honest at all times. This journey isn’t easy but it’s well worth it. The podcast can be found on Spotify and links to it on all the Bernini social media pages
Q: Why did you decide to participate in the Squadcast Series and what has this experience meant for you personally?
I decided to participate because I enjoyed the previous podcasts in this series that I’ve listened to and really wanted to be part of that sisterhood. It meant an opportunity to speak truthfully about helping other women. That means a lot to me.
The theme for the 9th episode of the Squadcast Series is RELATIONSHIPS and guests will discuss the impact and power relationships have on the path to success. This episode will be accessible on Sunday 9 May.
Click HERE to listen to previous episodes on Spotify.
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