OUR TOP TO WOMEN WATCH
While a recent PwC study indicated that there is a strong link between the financial performance of companies and female representation in their top echelons, only 8.79% of JSE-listed companies currently have 25% or more female directors. This is according to the 2015 South African Women in Leadership Census released by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (Bwasa) in July.
Only 2.4% of all CEOs in the country are female. Among them are Barclays Africa Group’s Maria Ramos, in charge since 2009; Catherine Radowsky of Rex Trueform, Queenspark’s parent company; and JSE boss Nicky Newton-King. Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita left ArcelorMittal SA, where she was CEO until last year, to assume a similar post at IchorCoal.
Quoting a recent Employment Equity Report, Sandra Burmeister, CEO of executive search firm Amrop Landelahni, says that while the percentage of female professionals in the workplace increased from 33% to 43% between 2005 and 2014, most of this change took place in the mid-2000s.
“More recently, the pace of transformation has slowed. This is a major concern,” she says.
Speaking at the launch of the 2015 Women in Leadership Census, Bwasa president Farzanah Mall said there has been a global trend to strengthen legislation to increase women’s membership on company boards. German lawmakers, for example, recently passed a law stating that by 2016 30% of board members at large firms should be women.
In SA, no such targets exist. While the country considered such measures, it is now going in the opposite direction. The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill lapsed in 2014, erasing any headway Bwasa had made over the years.
It remains a realit y, according to global consultancy McKinsey, that some men get appointed on the strength of their potential whereas women must prove themselves f irst. Double standards extend beyond appointments. The global pay disparity between men and women, according to UN Women director Phumzile MlamboNgcuka, is 24%. According to Burmeister, the local pay gap between the sexes is at 35.5% in the private sector. It decreases to 5% in the non-profit sector.
This week, Finweek features a group of businesswomen who have made their mark despite these challenges.