SECRETARIES have a role to play in the country’s economic growth and realisation of Vision 2030 of attaining an upper middle income society, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has said.
Officiating at Secretaries Day commemorations in Harare on Saturday, the mother of the nation said the profession was worthy to be recognised as it played an important role in organisations across all sectors of the economy.
She stressed the need for secretaries to be efficient, well-mannered and dress appropriately for the office.
This year’s celebrations were held under the theme: “Maximise your full potential.”
“This year’s event seeks to reflect on the contemporary work of secretaries and to raise critical questions regarding their contribution towards social and economic development,” said the First Lady. “Therefore, this day is made relevant by the need to reflect on the secretarial occupation and its distinctive characteristics.”
The profession, the First Lady said, was predominantly gendered and combined technical skill with interpersonal skills as well as significant challenges and pressures.
She chronicled the history of secretarial work by highlighting that women started appearing in the office in the 1930s to operate machinery like typewriters after studying basic short-hand and typing.
However, this was no longer the case.
“In the years when women started to move into the labour force, job discrimination kept women out of highly rewarded jobs and as a result the labour force was full of extremely smart and well educated secretaries,” said the First Lady. “However, this group disappeared from the labour force through the inception of affirmative action initiatives that made it easier for such women to become lawyers, executives and doctors.”
Amai Mnangagwa said the work of secretaries was not well-known by most people, their bosses included.
She said secretaries occupied a very important position in industry, commerce, social institutions, clubs, Government offices and even in the case of individuals like statesmen, lawyers and doctors.
“A secretary nowadays is an indispensable part of any organisation,” she said. “They are employed to assist the employer to perform certain routine duties leaving her or him free to concentrate on more important matters. This shows that a secretary is the most trustworthy person of the institution or the employer whom she or he works for.
“The fact that secretaries are the most trustworthy persons in institutions has seen them assigned to perform important roles like office executive, liaison officer and adviser to management.”
Management, the First Lady observed, invariably depended on the secretary to ensure that rules and regulations as laid down in legal enactments or by the organisation were strictly complied with so that the validity of meetings and proceedings or minutes were not disputed or challenged.
She likened the role of secretaries to engine oil because its absence renders the engine dysfunctional.
The role of secretaries, she said, made them instrumental in spearheading community solutions that bring sustainable development.
“I understand that in some cases, secretaries are expected to act as public relations officers in many institutions and I therefore urge you to effectively use the role in coming up with effective social responsibility programmes that respond to the genuine needs of people,” said the First Lady.
“Secretaries must play an active role, smuggle brilliant community solutions, ideas into boardrooms and take the leading role in the implementation of social responsibility activities. The importance of secretaries must go beyond industry and commerce and be instrumental in touching lives at grassroots level.”
Introspection, she said, was key as people should take ample time for self-evaluation.
“How we present ourselves to the society and in turn how society perceives us. A secretary should be presentable at all times as they are the face of an entity or organisation. It is imperative for a secretary to look presentable at all times, neatly dressed in decent office attire. Learn your body type and dress appropriately for the office. A secretary should have a vibrant attitude and possess good behaviour,” she said.
An important aspect, the First Lady emphasised, was to have good working relations with superiors.
“An efficient secretary has accurate anticipation for what their boss expects and their preferred standards,” she said. “You are there to make sure the office runs smoothly and that is a very important task. You should work closely with your boss and the boss’ family members should not feel suffocated or rigid when you are around. It is also important to work well with co-workers to ensure smooth coordination in the office.”
She reminded the secretaries to work extremely hard because they were the nucleus and heartbeat of the office.
“All secretaries in the private or public sector, I urge you to maximise your full capacity,” she said. “Always thrive for excellence because your success is synonymous to the success of industry, commerce and communities. You have a role to play in the economic growth and the realisation of the agenda 2030 of attaining the upper middle class economy.”