Corporate South Africa has an 80/20 split in favour of men at executive and board levels. According to a 2015 Stats SA survey, the gender gap is higher in the private and semi-private sectors than in government departments.
The percentage of senior posts held by females in state-owned enterprises is only 24%, with 76% being held by men. Similarly, in Chapter 9 institutions this number is only 25% of senior leadership positions being held by women.
The most alarming, however, is that in the JSE top 40 listed companies only 3% of chief executives are women. “South Africa has a long way to go in establishing and promoting the future of female leaders,” the managing director of Transcend Talent Management, Zanele Luvuno, said.
“This clearly indicates the importance of gender mainstreaming as well as BEE transformation at board level.” According to a report released by PwC called Executive Directors 2014, only 13% of women held executive roles in the basic resource sector, in comparison to the 87% of males.
Luvuno believes the report highlights the amount of work that still need to be done and the fact that the gap between men and woman at board level is continuing to grow. Another area of concern is the financial services industry, where there is a 85/15 male-female split.
Given the number, it is evident that women in the workplace have a long way to go, especially at board level. Research has further pointed out that women at board level play a vital role in the dynamics of the organisation, bringing to the table more productivity, a visible increase in companies’ bottom lines and seeing a better corporate governance.
With there being a business case for women in leadership positions, why has corporate South Africa been so slow to transform? The Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa says women are mostly appointed in non-executive directorship positions, only 9.2% of women hold chairperson positions and only 2.4% of women are appointed as chief executives.
Luvuno said: “An argument for keeping women out of leadership positions has been our desire to have children and our responsibility to our families. Being the ever-increasingly independent beings we are, women have become accustomed to a work-and-life family balance and are able to single-handedly juggle all these responsibilities.
“By not empowering women, we not only deprive the economy but deprive households of opportunities, where in this day and age women run households as single parents and mothers.
“The facts continue to unravel of how male candidates have owned the corporate leadership space over decades and have been given preference over more senior opportunities.”