Gender diversity at management level improving slowly | Fin24

Gender diversity at management level improving slowly

Jun 13 2017 16:06

Cape Town - Gender diversity is improving at management levels, but very slowly, according to Kumeshnee West, director of executive education at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB).

McKinsey reported in 2016, for instance, that just 5% of CEOs in Africa are women.

In her view, an industry-specific breakdown of gender inequality may provide insight into why women still remain vastly underrepresented at senior management level.
Despite strides being made in greater representation of women in the workforce and the strong business case for diversity, women remain in the minority at senior level.

West points out that, although SA is ahead at policy level, women still struggle to move from middle to senior management. In her view, this may partly be because women have more family obligations; a lack of confidence to pursue more senior positions; or fear coming across as unlikable if they are ambitious.

In some industries these pressures are stronger. In healthcare, for example, there is greater representation of female workers, perhaps because nurturing is seen as a "female" quality. Women make up 80% of the workforce and just 40% of management – and yet the latter is still higher than in other sectors.

Greater appreciation

West believes having a greater appreciation of the difficulties women face and overcome in different sectors, can help build better strategies to support them in meaningful ways. That is why the GSB's Executive Women in Leadership (EWIL) programme is specifically constructed to give women the tools to increase their leadership impact and visibility.

Most GSB courses also encourage delegates to work with a specific challenge they are encountering in their sector for the duration of the programme.

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