MBA Guest Lecture: Empowerment and education equals equity?

MBA Women in Leadership event welcomes a lively debate on achieving equity in the workplace.

There was a lively debate at our MBA Guest Lecture on Friday 10 March, based on the subject of diversity and inclusion with a focus on women in leadership, organised and run by Kent MBA Women in Leadership Scholar, Lola Osideko-Johnson in conjunction with MBA students, Soumashree Chandra and Inetina Ebitonmor.

Timed to coincide with International Women’s Day and the 2023 theme of ‘Embrace Equity’, 50 guests attended on and offline from all over the world.

Online lecture guests

After a brief introduction by MBA Director, Debbie Kemp, our four guest speakers – Professor Patricia Lewis, Olaitan MartinsTom Hyner, and Tione Taweni Chakhwantha – each gave a short introduction to their career and what ‘equity’ means to them, before answering thought-provoking questions first from the organisers and then from the audience.

Asked what we need to do to achieve equity in the workplace, Patricia felt that there shouldn’t be a reliance on women pushing themselves forwards, there should be structures in businesses to achieve equity and equality. Olaitan agreed reminding us that equity means looking at specific circumstances to achieve an equal outcome. It is not just about men and women but treating everyone justly according to their circumstances.

Tione Taweni Chakhwantha speaking

Tione suggested that we need to start with Parliament, as this is where policy is made. She is a firm advocate of women supporting women, and not pulling each other down.

While Tom went on to say that men need to get comfortable with talking about equality and diversity, moderating behaviours where needed. Further adding that there needs to be a change to structures in the workplace to achieve an equal distribution of rights, resources and opportunities.

Olaitan pointed out that less than 15% of the available positions in the last election in Nigeria were filled by women. She feels that women need to come together and set up lobbying groups to force change. Tione experienced similar inequalities in Malawi, where she not only saw gender-based bias but also felt she must do something about it.

MBA guest lecture audience members asking questions

Questions from the audience centred around the idea that empowerment and education are key. Perhaps we need to see a fairer distribution in people’s home lives, as well as in the workplace, to help change the culture and people’s minds. Fully shared maternity and paternity leave, being just one example. A change is happening but just not that quickly.

On a positive note, Patricia was quick to point out that the University of Kent fares better than many institutions, as it has taken EDI as a strategic aim and embedded it in everything it does. So, let’s give ourselves a pat on the back, as well as an embrace!

Female MBA students embracing equity

Lola, Soumashree and Inetina are undertaking our AMBA-accredited MBA. The course is underpinned by our high-quality research and informed by the global outlook of our international community. It builds on your current experience to transform you into a responsible business leader.

Our next MBA Guest Lecture is taking place on Friday 12 May, from 12:30 to 14:00 (BST) on the subject of Entrepreneurship. Details to be announced very soon. 

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