Dorcus Moleli

Dorcus Moleli said she had to work twice as hard as her male counterparts to succeed. (Graphic: John McCann)

Dorcus Moleli said she had to work twice as hard as her male counterparts to succeed. (Graphic: John McCann)

“Top management positions in my field are still occupied by white males who have been with these companies for many years,” says Dorcus Moleli, adding: “So, unless they retire, opportunities for growth for upcoming women are null and void.”

As Danone Southern Africa’s head of quality, Moleli has pushed her way through and up, despite the dearth in opportunities for growth.

Moleli is a member of the South African Quality Institute and a board member of the South African Society for Quality Professionals. In August last year she scooped Kansai Plascon’s Phenomenal Women Award.

Moleli adds that it is not only the male-dominated nature of the industry that has proven to be a challenge.

“I had to do a lot of collaboration with women at all levels, showing them how supporting and empowering each other could result in a number of us climbing the corporate ladder. Women generally do not speak up confidently in boardrooms, especially when decisions have to be made. I had to coach a number of women leaders to be able to share their voices and perspectives in order for us to be heard and our presence felt,” she says.

“Women are critical agents of change in South Africa. They are strong, resilient, can multitask, are sensitive, caring and nurturing, purposeful and driven. These characteristics are important in facilitating engagement in a respectful and trustworthy manner. Their strength and courage were observed when they marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 in protest against the pass laws. This is an indication of the courage that women have to initiate change,” she adds.

Asked what she would do, in her professional and personal capacity, to effect change, Moleli says: “I would establish a coaching school to advise and encourage upcoming young women to support and empower each other, internalise their accomplishments, be confident, speak up and trust their own voice.”

For now she is justifiably proud of what she has achieved in her career, to date — particularly the relationships she has forged.

“Having worked for Kansai Plascon for the past 12 years, I have had a positive impact on all employees at different levels; it doesn’t matter who you are, I built up strong relationships with everyone. I successfully assisted the organisation to create a positive culture by becoming an agent of change, through enhanced communication and collaboration, up, down and across the company, to continually drive performance and results,” she says.

“I am appreciative of the fact that I am a role model to all women out there that aspire to make a difference. I believe in the concept that nothing is impossible if you put your mind and focus to it. In order to be successful and respected, I had to work twice as hard as my male counterparts. I had to decide what I wanted to achieve and go for it. I never gave up. I used my motherly instincts, communication skills and emotional intelligence to succeed.” 

Carl Collison

Carl Collison

Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian. He has contributed to a range of local and international publications, covering social justice issues as well as art and is committed to defending and advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community in Southern Africa. Read more from Carl Collison

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