Why gender diversity is smart business strategy
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