More women in business makes good sense

Women are still lagging behind their male counterparts in black economic empowerment (BEE) benefits, despite the advantages companies gain by having a woman in top management or as a shareholder.

BEE was meant, among other things, to encourage women’s active participation in the economy, says Kim Marr, the director of Social Advantage. Her organisation helps businesses to maximise
the benefits and opportunities of effectively implementing broad-based BEE (BBBEE). BBBEE points are awarded to companies where at least 10% of the voting rights and economic interests lie in the hands of black women and at least 6% of procurement is aimed at black woman-owned businesses.

Black woman-owned start-ups and businesses qualify as beneficiaries for enterprise development. In addition, BBBEE rewards companies that develop the skills of black women and where black women occupy management positions and are adequately represented among the staff complement.

Marr says that, besides the awarding of BBBEE points, there are other compelling business reasons for including women in a business:

  • Women can provide a competitive advantage by influencing and providing insight into the female role in the economy;

  • Women see business from a different angle to men and, as a result, are a strategic resource; and

  • In a largely male-dominated world a company run by women or one that reflects the important role that women play in business by including them in management stands a better chance of attracting young, professional women graduates.
The latest South African women in leadership survey by the Businesswomen’s Association (BWA) early this year showed that more than 70 companies listed on the JSE do not have a single woman on their boards of directors and 26 have no women executives. The BWA’s annual corporate leadership survey predicted that the country would achieve 50% representation on boards only in 2031, while 2050 was the realistic target for parity at executive management level.

Percentages of women executive managers, according to race, have remained fairly constant since the previous reporting period, according to the WBA’s 2010 leadership survey. Of the 2 827 women executive managers in South Africa, 62% (just over 1 700) are white. The remaining number is shared by black, coloured and Indian women.

The results were based on the 306 JSE-listed companies that verified their company information. The government, in stepping up its efforts to achieve gender parity, established a ministry to ensure that women’s issues, including their participation in the economy, are given an effective platform.


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