Make it a team effort

Aug 23 2012 07:00

WOMEN have come a long way since the early 1990s, when the advent of democracy also opened the door for more gender equity.

With broad-based black economic empowerment and mining and finance charters, legislation has been enacted in a bid to level the playing fields in the corporate sphere.

Half of our members of parliament are women and people like Gill Marcus, Cynthia Carroll and Nicky Newton-King are at the helm of influential and powerful companies and institutions in South Africa.

Yet despite exceptions, there are still too few women in top positions. I believe we should be doing more to support and encourage women to move into the country's boardrooms and executive positions.

This Women's Month is a good opportunity to look afresh at how we view leadership.

We can make change possible in South Africa by recognising the special qualities that women bring as leaders, qualities like being collaborative, building teams and strategising in a quest to achieve our goals. 

I believe success should be notched up not only through the achievement of an individual executive, but by the strength of a team. By nature, we're good at empowering others. Women tend to excel at boosting their staff through mentoring, training and ongoing support.

The success of an organisation can often be measured by how empowered its employees are, and whether they are engaged and working together for the greater good of the company. 

This year, there are several plans to further gender equality in South Africa.

Our country's ruling party in policy discussions on gender calls for the gender equality bill to be fast-tracked to speed up 50-50 parity in the private sector and corporate world. 

Motsepe Foundation co-chair, Precious Moloi-Motsepe, is spearheading the women-in-budget initiative to campaign for public money from SA's annual budget to be spent in a more equitable way.

These moves are positive and essential, for while the executive gender gap is closing, it's not closing fast enough.

Business Unity South Africa (Busa) has suggested that companies should create space for women on their boards and implement better retention and succession strategies.

In a recent study, it showed that there is a "disturbingly low level of representation of women on the boards of JSE companies, especially in the role of chairpersons and executive directors, including CEOs and CFOs".

Busa's study revealed that in 2011 the percentage of women non-executive directors was 12.9%, while the percentage of black women non-executive directors was 10.2%.

This clearly needs to change. But we should not sit back and wait for legislation and regulations to shift the trends.

We should be proactive ourselves and work towards change in a positive way.

We need some guiding principles, but we also need to lead by supporting each other and finding the solutions instead of focusing on the negatives.

We should congratulate the companies that have managed to turn things around under difficult economic circumstances, and work together to complement each other as leaders.

 - Fin24

* Lulu Letlape is executive head of group corporate affairs at Sanlam. She is the latest guest columnist taking part in Fin24's Women's Month campaign celebrating women in business.

Fin24 welcomes your participation in the campaign. Send your views to editor@fin24.com and you could get published.

Previous women's month columns:

Life isn't like the movies - Judith Middleton, founder and CEO of DUO Marketing + Communications

Ramp up your fun factor - Marteen Michau, head of fiduciary and tax at Sanlam Private Investments

Map your delivery plan - Jackie Carroll, managing director for Media Works

Fine balancing act - Managing director of MUA Insurance Acceptances

Small victories are sweet
- CEO of Save the Children South Africa

Head in the clouds - Marketing manager at kulula.com

The sky's the limit - Tsidi Luse, quality control manager at Lafarge's Lichtenburg plant

In the driving seat - Dawn Nathan-Jones, CEO, Europcar

Get your hands dirty - Sandra Burmeister, CEO of the Landelahni Recruitment Group

Manage like a woman - Wahida Parker, director of Equillore

Four tips for working moms - Glynnis Jeffries, head: business development at Futuregrowth

Women a force for change - Amelia Jones, CEO of Community Chest

Don't be an ice queen - Nicole Fannin, financial consultant at deVere Group


* Follow Fin24 on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

workplace  |  women



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