Britehouse announced as winner of Top Gender Empowered: Skills Development Award by Standard Bank Top Women Awards 2017

The Standard Bank Top Women Awards, hosted by Topco Media and Standard Bank, featured categories that sought to honour the impressive achievements of many top South African women leaders and women-strong companies from both the private and public sector.

Says Top Women Director Karla Fletcher: "The Awards were created to encourage more women to pursue their ambitions, and more organisations to join the new economy – a ‘she-conomy', pursuing 50% stakeholdership by women."

Britehouse's skills development strategy

Britehouse was honoured with the Top Gender Empowered: Skills Development Award for the implementation of its consistent and progressive skills development strategy.

One of the key initiatives Britehouse has undertaken, which drew the company's attention to Standard Bank Top Women, is its collaboration with the Diepsloot Preschools Project and Training Force.

Britehouse, together with Diepsloot Preschools Project and Training Force, embarked on a year-long project that focused on early childhood development certification for previously unemployed childminders in underprivileged areas. This project is an extension of Britehouse's 67 Day Digital Activation Movement, which is modelled on the United Nations' annual 67 minutes of activism to celebrate Nelson Mandela's birthday. The Movement was designed by Britehouse to accelerate the community benefits derived from corporate social investment initiatives that utilise digital hubs.

The pilot project launched in April 2016, with 23 teaching assistants from 19 preschools in Diepsloot, Gauteng, being trained using a blended learning approach, delivered through the Britehouse digital hub. These previously unemployed ladies were given a two-year employment contract at a preschool from under the banner of the Diepsloot Preschools Project, while they attended the training course. This allowed them to pursue their studies and earn an income.

The training courses use both ETDP-SETA approved content and content developed over the past 23 years by the Diepsloot Preschools Project. The concept of digitising this content was initiated as a value proposition by Britehouse CSI Manager, Emmeline Bester, funded by Britehouse, and undertaken by Training Force for the digital hub. The digital hub was developed by Britehouse together with GOTGAME in 2015, and is equipped with smart technology, Internet, and WiFi-infrastructure to host enterprise and community development projects, and importantly, training initiatives that seek to help students unlock and leverage the power of technology in the classroom.

All learners who successfully complete the course receive a tablet, donated by the Diepsloot Preschools Project NPO, which is pre-loaded with teaching resources. These resources include classroom set-up tips to facilitate true monitoring and evaluation, a 30-week cycle of ‘Daily Lessons Plans', which incorporates skill development, games and songs, practical guides for creating themes, The National Anthem, as well as information on Children's Rights and the laws around registration of teachers. The digitising of these lesson plans was also initiated by Britehouse CSI Manager, Emmeline Bester, and funded by Britehouse.

To date, 20 Diepsloot preschools and approximately 500 learners from five schools across the country, have been impacted by this skills development initiative. A second course will be starting in September 2017 in Thembisa, and a possible third course in Cosmo City. Britehouse is also tied to several preschools in the Cape, where they are looking at hosting future courses. Furthermore, Britehouse hosted a Business Administration course which saw 34 learners sign up.

Says Emmeline Bester, Britehouse CSI Manager: "We consider the training of these women, who in some cases are also the owners of the preschools, as enterprise development, and chose to get involved in this project because of the multi-layered benefits it offers to the community."

These multi-layered benefits include providing unemployed women with a living and ensuring the children are adequately prepared for their formal education. In turn, if replicated, it could also contribute to an improvement in the matric pass rate over the long term. Moreover, the profits earned from any enterprise goes to the high school on whose grounds the digital hub is placed.

Global research studies have empirical evidence showing that companies who put women in key leadership roles experience improved business performance. For Britehouse, this is not only true for business performance, but also for their impact as a company in this country.

Recently, Standard Bank Top Women announced it is determined to see South African companies and organisations raise the percentage of women in leadership by 22% by the year 2022 – and Britehouse has every intention of being of that achievement.