South African businesswomen making advances

South African women are making advances in the country’s private sector with respect to taking on senior job opportunities, based on a newly released international survey.

The 2012 Grant Thornton International Business Report, which surveys trends in privately owned businesses in 40 economies worldwide, reported that 28% of senior management positions in South Africa happen to be held by women.

Furthermore this is higher than the worldwide average of 21%.

Grant Thornton’s corporate finance head in Johannesburg, Jeanette Hern, stated that this robust representation is an indication of the country’s advancement in the direction of gender equality.

The outcome in fact shows progress from 27% last year. In spite of this, it falls just short of 2007’s figure of 29%.


Resourceful approaches to accommodate women


Hern pointed out, however, that more is required to be accomplished for that number to improve.

“We require more innovative strategies to ensure a substantial dent in the number of women still ruled out from senior management,” she pointed out.

This consists of finding significantly more innovative approaches to accommodate women in the workplace. Hern revealed that just 39% of women interviewed in South Africa mentioned that their businesses offer working conditions that accommodated flexible hours and alternative working locations.



In addition, the study discovered that women have not been represented across a variety of management roles. Most were either human resource or finance directors.

Mearly 8% of CEOs and 9% of COOs happen to be women but as reported by Hern, it is really an change for the better from 2011, when only 3% of women retained positions at these levels.


Women have advanced, but can progress significantly more


As reported by Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre’s executive director, Lesley Ann Foster, the precise number of women in leadership positions ought to be taken into account when analysing such statistics.

Foster says that taken in context, the figures leave a great deal of room for improvement – but recognized that women have advanced over the past 10 years and they have occupied numerous senior positions, however, not yet to a sufficient degree.

“Women constitute 53% of the population hence they ought to at the very least take up 50% of leadership positions however this is simply not happening,” she stated.



Foster was very clear with regards to the positive aspects that equality between men and women will likely have on society. She asserted that in a society where women are on an equal basis with men progress is quicker, the standard of living is higher and quality of life improves.

“Women provide a considerable amount of expertise and value to life,” she pointed out. “If a woman works, the entire family along with the community benefit. To be on par with men, women should receive decent work, decent pay.”


Private sector must get up to date


Foster described studies carried out by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) in 2010, which suggested that there are millions of women who are either unemployed or generate little or no income.

The BWASA studies have shown that 64% of women earned less than R1 000 per month, 80% earned less than R2 500 and more alarmingly, merely 45% of women were employed. Furthermore, 53% of black women are presently unemployed.

She also mentioned that there are certainly not an adequate amount of women coming from previously disadvantaged backgrounds in leadership positions.




BWASA East London’s chairperson, Lizelle Maurice, agreed with Foster’s comments, proclaiming that while women have progressed enormously in the public domain, with 47% currently being represented in government, they are continue to lag in the private sector.

When talking of methods to make sure women are given a much better opportunity to participate within business, Maurice suggested that Black economic empowerment status also needs to have a gender component.”



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