14 June 2012

South Africa: More Women Needed in Boardrooms


Recruitment companies should reportedly go to greater lengths to ensure that top women candidates are appointed to senior management positions in South African companies, as gender equity remains major problem in South Africa.

Dr Adri Drotskie, who heads up the M Com Business Management Programme at the University of Johannesburg, said there was a small pool of top women executives who were being moved around like chess pieces with relatively few new qualified candidates being brought into the corporate world.

"While we don't have specific numbers available for the percentage of women in top executive positions in South Africa, we know that it is substantially less than the 15% figure that researchers in the US have reported. We also know that women on boards are at a lower level than the 3% on Fortune 500 companies claimed in the US."

Duduzile Ntuli of Basadzi Personnel said that from the day it was formed, the company had put a women-centric recruitment policy in place. "Wherever possible, we sought to impress upon our clients the importance of gender and racial diversity in the workplace and that women in particular brought a fresh and new perspective to the executive suite."

Qualified candidates chasing fewer positions

Ntuli agreed with Drotskie that the executive employment market was tight and that a growing number of qualified candidates were chasing fewer positions. "Many corporates are still recovering from the economic meltdown and some companies - notably some of the big four banks - are expected to actually retrench substantial numbers of staff," she said.

Drotskie, whose M Com Business Management Programme is one of the most highly sought after business qualifications in South Africa, said more women were graduating from her programme, ready to join the workforce, only to find that men received preference when it came to staff selection.

"What is particularly heartening is the fact that a growing number of these graduates are black and although they find it marginally easier to find jobs because of Black Employment Equity, the fact is that women are still being left behind," Drotskie said.

In the US, 45% of graduates from major business schools such as Harvard, Wharton and the London Business School are female but this has translated into only 3% of women CEOs at Fortune 500 companies and less than 15% of senior executives of major corporates world-wide.

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