FINQUESTION OF THE WEEK
Why are so few women appointed to top positions?
YC: For me, it’s a real pity that when it comes to gender, companies are still to grasp the debilitating effects of patriarchy. There’s an awareness of the effect of racial discrimination and the contribution that black empowerment has made to the economy. We need the same awareness of the effect of gender discrimination. GM: Women, and black women in particular, are pretty scarce the higher up the organisational ladder you go. It’s therefore even harder for young black women to YOLANDA CUBA newly appointed CEO of Mvelaphanda Group
Why do you think it’s difficult for corporate SA to appoint young black women executives?
be recognised. Moreover, many corporates find it difficult to retain talented women. There needs to be a significant change in mindset, in particular the assumptions made about women, for progress to be made.
Is the policy of affirmative action favourable to young black women?
YC: Although affirmative action has created opportunities, these aren’t as far-reaching as a country such as ours needs. There are far fewer women in board positions and not nearly enough in senior executive positions. There needs to be a culture change and an acceptance of the views, ideals and values that women hold dear. GM: Affirmative action enables doors to be opened, but the women walking through those doors do so on merit and with confidence that they can meet the challenges ahead.
Do you really think age counts in SA when being appointed as an executive?
YC: Visionary leaders recognise the need to leapfrog themselves and nurture, mentor and grow young talent. I don’t agree with the argument that the number of years you have lived is a prediction of your talent and ability to perform at executive level. GM: Age is definitely a factor, but executives are getting younger all the time, and any corporation that values talent will ensure that it provides opportunities for growth at all levels of the organisation.
What experiences from your past were critical in your nourishment as an executive?
YC: The key is opportunity. For me, Mvelaphanda provided me with a platform and gave me the tools to implement what I already wanted. I was involved in all the major transactions of the group. This made me street-smart within the context of the space in which we operate.
In addition to Mvelaphanda providing me with the technical platform, I also had a chairman and a deputy chairman who constantly mentored me. GM: Having the active support of a great team, hard work, and self-confidence are all important, as is the opportunity to gain hands-on experience. Most importantly, someone more senior who recognised potential and was willing to take a chance on me, providing opportunities for me to learn, grow and develop my own capacity and skill.
newly appointed chairman of