A Woman’s Place is in the Board Room
Diversity is good for business – plain and simple.
While studies such as the 2015 Mckinsey & Company, Why Diversity Matters, have proven that gender diversity is a homerun for businesses, this has not translated favourably when it comes to women in high powered positions.
The 2017 Women in Business report by Grant Thornton found that after surveying 5,500 businesses in 36 economies, only 25% of senior roles were held by women. South Africa revealed slightly more optimistic, yet still low, statistics, which found that 28% of senior roles were held by women. While this makes us slightly above average, the number has only increased by two percent over the last 13 years.
The Mckinsey & Company study found that companies with higher and more diverse workforces perform better financially. Companies in the top quartile for gender, racial, and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians, whereas companies in the bottom quartile are statistically less likely to achieve above average returns. This can be due to the fact that more diverse companies are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, which all leads to increasing returns.
This Women’s Month, in honour of the women you have strived for equality, PREMIER takes a look at just some of the top-achievers in the country, for their entrepreneurial prowess or climbing the ladder to top positions in companies: held by the Institute of Bankers and passed the examination in record time. After this she completed a Bcom and Bcom Honours at the University of Witwatersrand, and went on to achieve a MSC in Economics at the University of London in 1992.
From 1996 to 2003, Ramos served as the Director General of the National Treasury and after this she was the Group Chief Executive of Transnet Limited for five years.
From Beauty Queen to Business Queen – Basetsana Kumalo
While Basetsana Kumalo might have started out being well-known for her string of beauty titles, such as being Miss South Africa as well as being a runner-up in Miss World, she has since racked up impressive successes in the world of business.
While being Miss South Africa, she became a presenter on the TV show, Top Billing. From this entertainment hotspot, she became a joint shareholder of Twesolopele Productions that housed the famous show in 1995. It later became JSE listed, which made her one of the youngest black female directors in South Africa. She also launched her own clothing, eyewear, and cosmetics range that reached over 250 stores in Sub-saharan Africa, and she is currently
Today she is better known as the Chief Executive Officer of Absa Group Limited, being responsible for executing the strategy of the Group across 10 African operations that are serving 15 million customers.
Uplifting Women – Martha Letsoalo and Julie Hadley
Another story of women being empowered is that of Heartfelt. Martha Letsoalo and Julie Hadley started Heartfelt shortly after the President of the Business Women’s Association of South Africa.
The Status Quo Changer – Maria Ramos Maria Ramos did not start out in a glamourous position when she entered the job market. After she matriculated she started working for Barclays as a waste clerk doing paperwork. She was looking for a bursary to study and found that Barclays offered bursaries where they supported employees to complete commerce degrees. However, this opportunity was only open to men. She did not let this stop her – Ramos fought long and hard to be considered for the bursary, and it paid off. Barclays eventually told her that if she passed the basic examination, they will consider her. Three nights a week after work she drove from Vereeniging to Johannesburg to attend evening classes Letsoalo’s son died in prison, being there wrongly accused. She had no income and had to find a way to survive, and so Heartfelt was born in the rural village of Makapanstad. They started building an empire out of such a simple concept: crafting.
Together, the duo began creating products using traditional handcraft skills, felt, and beads. Today their products are sold locally and internationally, and
Basetsana Kumalo (centre) along with television and radio journalist, Redi Tlhabi (right), and Jennifer Warawa executive vice president of partners, accountants and alliance at Sage (left) at a Sage Foundation conference.
Maria Ramos at the World Economic Forum on Africa in 2009.