Business Women’s Census report

Business Women’s Census report

Date: March 12, 2013
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A radical mind shift. That’s what we need in South Africa is to shift gear from the slow, incremental changes in the numbers of women at executive levels to a dramatic increase in the way we perceive, promote and protect women in corporate South Africa.

And it needs government, business and civil society to act as one in order to achieve at least 50 % representation by 2015.

Once again, we report that while women make up 43.9 % of the workforce, they constitute only 21.4 % of all Executive Managers and only 17.1 % of all directors in South Africa.

Less than 10 % of South Africa CEOs and Chairpersons -9.7 % -are women. Can we continue to believe that we can change this without incentive? Where success has been measured, it has come in the wake of legislated shifts .Already, Europe is implementing quotas to ensure greater compliance.

Earlier this year British Prime Minister David Cameroon warned businesses in the UK that they needed to urgently increase women representation at executive level or face the possibility of qoutas.Its time South Africa adopted a similar approach. We have seen from BEE legislation -that for any transformation to happen, regulation is necessary. The BWA is only one of many organisations which should hold corporate South Africa to account .Each year, this census allows us to measure progress. Yet increasingly, rather than confront their shortcomings, companies are opting to avoid scrutiny.

Our research shows slow and often marginal increases .Our successes are often uneven, with greater growth at Board level for African women but limited successes at executive levels. Of the women Executive Managers and Directors within companies, a great majority of these are white women whereas the majority of Non Executives at Board level are Black women.

This in itself is a disturbing trend because, even though as organisation we advocate for women empowerment across the board, given our history, the redress has to take into account our context. We must continue to focus our efforts on ensuring uniform transformation -at board and executive level- for women of all races.

The global economy has changed dramatically yet we continue to operate on old assumptions and practices.

Little has changed since 2010, when we projected a 50% representation at executive manager level only in 2050. In fact, progress has slowed at board level and instead of parity in 2031 as the trends indicated then, we are now targeting parity in 2039.

This unacceptably slow progress will persist unless the South African Government lives up to its commitments made in the SADC Gender Protocol. These commitments include putting in place affirmative action measures to ensure 50 % decision -making representation in the public and private sectors by 2015.

It cannot be business as usual. If we are to change the landscape of business in South Africa – and truly draw on all of South Africa human resources -then we need to change the way we think and conduct our business.

Kunyalala Maphisa – President, Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa in the foreword of the Business Women’s Census report


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