/ 8 March 2012

SA’s fairest fare better in business

With 28% of senior management positions held by women in 2012, South Africa does better than the global average, a survey has found.

“The fact that South Africa’s women are strongly represented in senior management relative to many other parts of the world, says a lot about the progress the country has made in promoting gender equality,” Grant Thornton’s partner and corporate finance head Jeannette Hern in Johannesburg said on Thursday.

The research is contained in the 2012 Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), which surveys trends in privately held businesses in 40 economies around the world.

The global average for women in senior management positions is 21%. Hern said this figure had changed little in the past five years.

“We need more innovative solutions in order to make a significant dent in the number of women still excluded from senior management,” she said.

In 2007, 29% of senior management positions were held by women. This dropped to 28% in 2009 and 27% in 2011.

Hern said possible solutions could include finding more creative ways to accommodate women in the workplace.

“Only 39% of the women surveyed in South Africa indicated that their businesses offer flexible working conditions such as flexible hours and alternative locations to work from,” she said.

HR and finance for women?
Hern believed business needed to consider women for a greater spectrum of management roles.

Most women in senior management are either human resource directors (20%) or finance directors (also 20%), the research found.

Of those surveyed, only 8% of CEOs and 9% of chief operating officers (COOs) were women.

Hern said this was a marked improvement from last year’s results, when only 3% of women held these positions.

The global average for women CEOs was 9% and for COOs was 12%, Grant Thornton said.

Regionally, Gauteng had the highest proportion of women in senior management at 30%, which was followed by Cape Town and the Eastern Cape with 28% each.

KwaZulu-Natal lagged with 25% of women in senior management.

Gauteng also had the highest proportion of women CEOs at 12%. The Eastern Cape had 4.2% of women in CEO positions.

The research showed Gauteng had the highest proportion of businesses offering flexible working conditions.

G7 countries are behind the global average, with only 18% of women in senior management positions.

Russia has the highest proportion of women in senior management positions at 46%.

Botswana is the African country with the highest proportion of women in senior management at 39%.

South Africa’s average of 28% is slightly ahead of the other Brics group of emerging economies with an average of 26% women in senior management, the survey found. — Sapa