As the month of August comes to an end and the female empowerment events come to a close it is important to reflect, but also remember that diversity and transformation stretch further than gender and race. We all need to play our part in order to ensure that we not only promote diversity and transformation but that we actively embrace the change they come with, as this is how we will begin to unlock potential.

The fabulous WIMI women’s event hosted on 29 August, at the Inanda Club, was a great way to bring together women from all areas of the division. The theme was strategically focused on winning. Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.”

After a delicious lunch, Nomkhita opened the event by reminding us to each do our part in our quest to keep growing as women and help others along the way. She stated that Absa, according to JSE data, is the only JSE listed top 40 company which has both a female CEO and a female chairperson. She further noted that this accomplishment must not be taken for granted.

I had the privilege of sharing my story, the focus of which was “dreams.” I truly believe that as we move through the daily task of living, it is easy to be swallowed by the mundane and forget the magical. Mark Gorman could not have said it better when he said: “Not all dreamers are winners, but all winners are dreamers.”

Ayanda Masondo was next to share her story. In my opinion, she exemplifies true resilience when faced with adversity. She poured out her life lessons in a methodical and inspiring manner, as she conquered her fear of public speaking.

The session that followed was dedicated to the women in the room by giving us all time to share our experiences with those sitting at our tables. We all have a story and that story could influence the woman sitting next to us, in ways that change her life. I found myself getting deeply emotional as the women in the room shared their experiences and bonded in a collective manner.

Bongani Mageba was one of the lucky men to have been part of the day, and he was the moderator for a panel where a select few individuals got to share experiences they have had on WIMI development programs. Sindi Buthelezi and Khanya Mthethwa spoke about their journeys on the Masedi Junior and Masedi senior programs respectively. WIMI has done well in demonstrating extensive strengths when it comes to the development programs run internally. To this end this caught the attention of Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), who run the Gender Mainstream Awards, which recognize companies that have programs focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. WIMI was a finalist for the award of Equal Representation which encompasses both genders within WIMI.

Lynn Ferguson passionately shared her experience on the Lighthouse Leadership program. Inside out Fundamentals and Inside out Advanced got rave reviews from Nkululeko Makhaya and Lukhanyo Hobo respectively. What was most striking about all these individuals is that one could feel how much of an impact these programs had on their lives just by looking at their faces and listening to their experiences. It was truly inspiring and made many of us in the room want to sign up for at least one of the programs to experience this phenomenon.

The next item on the agenda was a small awards ceremony, which allowed for recognition of the transformation happening on a team level. Some examples of the awards given are awards for the team with the highest number of female promotions and award for highest and number of women leaders. The awards contextualized and reminded everyone of the great work happening internally through the hard work of many. To close off the event, Tina Playne shared some words of motivation and reminded us to keep focusing on our efforts to empower each other as women. We all networked and ate scrumptious desserts after formal proceedings were done. The air was filled with hope and a renewed promise for many.

While there are many things happening all year round, there is one other initiative that WIMI was a part of during the month of August that is worth mentioning. We were part sponsors of an MBA scholarship, for a previously disadvantaged female, to study at UCT Graduate School of Business for 2019.

WIMI is winning many battles but the war is far from over. It has been said so many times that by empowering women, you empower communities but this is a collective effort, and we must all contribute as we continue on this journey.

Tsitsi Hatendi-Matika is Head: Retail Investment Specialist at Absa’s Wealth and Investment Management unit.