Why gen­der di­ver­sity is smart busi­ness strat­egy

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT - BY JES­SICA HUB­BARD

While much is writ­ten about the global dearth of fe­male lead­ers in busi­ness, less is said about why busi­nesses can ac­tu­ally ben­e­fit – be­yond be­ing viewed as ‘trans­for­ma­tional’ – from dy­namic women lead­ers. As it stands, women are still very much a mi­nor­ity in board­rooms around the world, and in South Africa. “At s enior man­age­ment a nd ex­ec­u­tive lev­els, SA mir­rors the in­ter­na­tional land­scape in gen­der di­ver­sit y – with around 25%30% of se­nior man­age­ment and ex­ec­u­tive roles oc­cu­pied by women,” says Deb­bie Good­man-Bhyat, CEO of Jack Ham­mer Ex­ec­u­tive Head­hunters. “If one ex­am­ines the CEO role, then the per­cent­age of fe­males in the CEO po­si­tion drops to around 5% in large cor­po­rates – both in SA and glob­ally.” bet­ter ref lects the so­ci­ety it op­er­ates in, and its cus­tomer base, will most likely de­sign its prod­ucts and ser­vices bet­ter and con­se­quently be more rel­e­vant to its vari­ant stake­hold­ers.”

Khoza high­lights the 2013/14 Com­mis­sion f o r Em­ploy­ment Eq­uity Re­port, which found that women rep­re­sent the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion yet are the least eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive group in SA.

“This is a missed op­por­tu­nity for women to take up po­si­tions within cor­po­rates and also be rep­re­sented in se­nior lead­er­ship po­si­tions,” she ex­plains. “Strate­gic ad­van­tage r e qu i r e s e x pl or i ng mult i pl e pos­si­bil­i­ties for busi­ness growth and suc­cess… hav­ing breadth and depth in th­ese lead­er­ship struc­tures would a l low for more holis­tic de­ci­sion-mak­ing.”

CHANG­ING THE CON­VER­SA­TION

Shireen Chen­gadu, e xecutive d irec­tor at t he Cent r e for Lead­er­ship and Dia­logue at the Gor­don In­stit ute of Busi­ness Science (Gibs), ex­plains that what women can bring i s a “mul­ti­per­spec­tive” lens on busi­ness, which she be­lieves is crit­i­cal to en­hanc­ing per­for­mance i n to­day’s vast l y dif­fer­ent cor­po­rate en­vi­ron­ment.

“The busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment is no longer lin­ear − it’s very com­plex, am­biva­lent, and al­ways chang­ing,” ex­plains Chen­gadu.

“In my v i ew, women bring both the hard and soft as­pects of lead­er­ship to the de­ci­sion-mak­ing ta­ble, which i s i mpor­tant at a time when tra­di­tional lead­er­ship

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