A Wo­man’s Place is in the Board Room

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Maretha Lubbe Im­ages © Sup­plied, Sage

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.

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