SA lagging in gender parity in business – study

ANC Women’s League members march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, following part of the route taken in the 1956 protest against legislation aimed at tightening the apartheid government’s control over the movement of black women in urban areas, 9 August 2019. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

ANC Women’s League members march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, following part of the route taken in the 1956 protest against legislation aimed at tightening the apartheid government’s control over the movement of black women in urban areas, 9 August 2019. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

With Women’s Month ending today, Ears executive researcher Nomzamo Xaba has painted a bleak picture.

While the government has committed itself to reach gender parity by 2030 – in line with the African Union 2063 agenda – big business is lagging behind in closing the gap, according to Empowerdex Research Advisory Services (Ears).

With Women’s Month ending today, Ears executive researcher Nomzamo Xaba has painted a bleak picture, pointing to a low level of advancement of women in South Africa, saying the top 10 companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) failed in reflecting the desired progress in women representation in boardrooms.

Ears is a subsidiary of Empowerdex, a ratings agency, which annually focuses on strides made in achieving transformation in all sectors of the local economy.

“If you look at the top 10 JSE-listed companies, only one has achieved the 30% ownership target required by the department of trade and industry,” said Xaba.

“While we celebrate Women’s Month, we are not happy because not a lot of strides have been made.

“If you walk into boardrooms, you may find one woman at executive or senior management level, which is not good enough.

“The construction industry is still skewed towards males, although the sector seems to be making an effort to appoint women in engineering roles.”

Determined to have women play a more meaningful role in the male-dominated construction industry is Johannesburg entrepreneur Izel van der Merwe, whose company Arc Sthetics is on a crusade to train unemployed young women in the area of interior design.

Van Der Merwe said her company, which offers services in interior architecture, corporate turnkey solutions to high-profile commercial and retail clients, was “committed to ploughing back” by empowering young unemployed women.

“Whenever I have a project, I ensure that job opportunities are created and that empowerment of women takes priority,” she said.

“Being successful is about giving back to the less privileged. It is not about how much you can make but about how much you can give back.”

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