Duduzile Shinya is the chief financial officer at Amalgamated Brands, a subsidiary of Takura Capital.
With over 20 years in the accounting profession, working for popular brands like Schweppes, Imara, Tetrad, ZINWA and ZB Bank boards, Shinya has seen the highs and lows in the sector.
Yet the participation of females in the accounting profession has remained low, especially in the public sector.
As a member of the Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ), Shinya says there are great opportunities for women’s growth and their contribution to the economy. In light of this, Shinya and other chartered accountants launched WeCan.
She chairs the networking platform for female accountants. The platform seeks to promote their participation in ICAZ activities as well as mentorship at grassroots levels.
Our reporter Enacy Mapakame (EM) caught up with Duduzile Shinya (DS) and discussed opportunities for female accountants in Zimbabwe and the sector in general.
EM: Last week you celebrated WeCan’s second anniversary, what has been the journey so far?
DS: We launched WeCan in April of 2017. We basically founded it to support and encourage our female membership to participate more in accounting and ICAZ activities.
EM: How has been the response so far?
DS: The response has been very positive, we are seeing more women participation, in terms of the roles that they are playing within the accounting sector and sitting in boards. I think there’s potential, although more needs to be done. We have started coaching and mentorship for the members and we need to continue increasing in numbers as the momentum has picked up.
EM : What do you want to achieve with the WeCan programme?
DS : Our primary objective is to empower women to be leaders within the economy and accounting profession. When you look at recruitment, say in schools and firms, the intake is almost 50 percent males and 50 percent females. But when you look at women in leadership, there is less than 25 percent in such positions. Take for example, companies that are listed on the stock exchange, there’s probably about 15 percent women participation on those boards.
EM: What does the mentorship and training programme entail?
DS: We started mentorship for our members, and we want to roll that out to the students so that they can also hear stories from other people who have made it. They also need to understand it is not a bed of roses, sometimes you make sacrifices along the way just like you may sacrifice work duties to attend to your child at school. The mentorship should also boost their confidence and make them understand that they can be leaders too.
EM: But where do you see the problem of low participation on company boards emanating from and what should be done to strike the balance?
DS: The way women and men network varies because of the different roles they play and how society views them. As a family oriented woman, maybe a mother and a wife, there are responsibilities that come with that, which the men may not necessarily have. So when you get home automatically, you’re probably the one cooking for the family. You’re the one doing homework. But the man’s responsibility might not necessarily include things that we might see as mundane tasks.
EM: What role should the family then play in shaping up women in society and ensuring that they have equal opportunities? How can it help in shaping their perceptions, especially with regards to leadership roles?
DS: I think the family should be supportive. Because I think when a woman progresses in her career, it does not necessarily mean that she’s going to neglect homely or wifely duties, but it’s giving her the support in a way that enables her to grow and be able to achieve those dreams.
EM: Where do you see opportunities for growth for women in accounting?
DS: There are great opportunities in terms of women to sit on boards. If you look at the number of female accountants that are actively participating in boards, they are few despite having the qualifications and experience in the profession.
At the same time we see a global shift that comes with more and more companies looking at striking a balance in senior leadership positions. The biggest opportunities right now are in Government. Recently we launched the International Public Sector Accounting standards (IPSAS), which has now been accepted by Government. We are moving from cash accounting to accrual accounting. And there’s definitely an opportunity for more women to now look towards qualifying and getting an IPSAS certificate, which will then be relevant in the public sector.
EM: We grew up with the stereotype that places a person in the boardroom as a man in a suit and holding a briefcase, but you are not a man. How have you managed in all the years you have been in senior management and have you ever felt intimidated?
DS: When you come out on any given day, you probably don’t even think about whether you are male or female. It’s only probably in the last five years that I have been conscious after looking at some of these statistics and realise that I am the only woman in a boardroom or there’s just two of us.
As for intimidation, I am very strong willed, but there are instances where men can be very forceful and try to drown out your voice in making decisions. So if you don’t stand your ground you may not be heard.
EM: Do you think Government has done enough to ensure women’s voices are heard and there is equality and equity in society?
DS: I don’t want to put all this on the Government’s shoulders. I think as chartered accountants, we need to make ourselves available to Government as well and serve so that as women we are present in public boards. We also need to play a role in building our economy and contribute to the growth of this country.
EM: What is your message for women out there, those who are trying to make it up the corporate ladder?
DS: As WeCan, we are not a lobby group but we feel as women we need to help each other grow. If you have made it as a woman, assist those who are still upcoming so that we grow together.
This should not only apply to the accounting profession but in every sector. It is not good to grow as individuals and leave others behind.
Together we can make a difference as women.
It is also important to note that as women, we are not saying we are better than men or should replace them. We can complement each other and these efforts we are making are to make sure the female voice is also heard, that we have equal opportunities. Sunday Mail