When Cheryl-Jane Kujenga came back to EY in 2006 for her second stint with the company, she asked, “Where are the women?”. For Cheryl-Jane, coming back to EY was like coming back home. “EY is a very welcoming environment. There were still a lot of people that I'd done articles with, when I rejoined,” she says. But she was also quick to prioritize creating more awareness about bringing more women into leadership roles.
Cheryl-Jane is passionate about gender parity. During her 16-year stay at EY, she started and ran a successful program to help female senior managers in audit teams improve their leadership skills.
“Women tend to get to a particular level in any organization,” she says “But when you look at the real decision-makers, there's still a shortage of women.”
During our conversation, Cheryl-Jane elaborated on the areas to focus on to promote gender parity at the workplace.
Be your own cheerleader
“As women, we tend to spend a lot of time focused on the level of effort we put in. We take a lot of pride in delivery. [But] we don't spend enough time being political and focused about our own careers. It's okay to focus on delivery and pride of execution. But also be aware of your strengths and what you bring to the table. Play up your strengths ... We've got to be our own cheerleaders.”
Build leadership skills
“Understand leadership and the key traits for a leader. And make sure you have got those traits. Or at least start to work with mentors who can help you [build] those traits.”
Place more women in strategic roles
Cheryl-Jane believes that moving more women through the ranks is also the responsibility of men in leadership positions. “There is an onus on men in powerful positions. They still hold the power. They have to make sure that they are intentionally providing women with strategic roles that really help grow them.”