The Top Women 2020 “Brave Conversation” narrative is aimed at showcasing a culture reset within the women empowerment space, where Standard Bank is challenging the status quo and how the role of women in society is viewed. In celebration of its diverse offering of women leaders, Standard Bank has identified women within its infrastructure who have reset the culture of what it means to be powerful and inspirational. Women possess a number of traits that make a significant impact in this complex and ever-evolving world; Chief Compliance Officer for Standard Bank PBB, Shimoné Pretorius, serves as a testament to this fact.
When Pretorius joined Standard Bank SA 14 years ago she was completely new to banking and, having come from a regulatory environment, she gives us a view of how she was thrown into the deep end by having to assist with the implementation of the National Credit Act across Standard Bank SA — a huge learning curve and an amazing experience. She explains what resetting the culture means for her:
“Each one of my role changes has been a highlight. With each change I received more and more exposure. Being fortunate enough to be part of Isabel Lawrence’s Exco team and at the same time joining Funeka Montjane’s Exco was like having the best of both worlds. Being led by two such dynamic female leaders, who are respected through the entire organisation, is a growth opportunity that you cannot find anywhere else. I have the privilege of getting involved in the client centricity journey and assisting the teams in making a real difference to the lives of our clients,” says Pretorius.
Pretorius was part of the VUKA experience, and she sees that as a real an eye-opener for her. “It taught me compassion. It taught me to look at the person as a human being and not just someone I work with. I also had the privilege of attending the immersion in Ghana — that experience was priceless, and changed my outlook on life forever. It was the one single experience that had the biggest impact on my life. It really showed me what it means to be happy and content, and that old cliché of ‘happiness isn’t getting what you want, it is being content and satisfied with what you have’ became real for me.”
Navigating a male-dominated industry
Pretorius says: “We are still in a male-dominated environment, and it will take time to get to a position where equal work and equal reward becomes a reality. As women we will for a long time continue to feel that we must work harder than our male counterparts to get the same recognition. This is not a Standard Bank challenge, it is a country-wide challenge. Having said that, Standard Bank has made big changes from a gender equality perspective. Men are encouraged to partake in the “HeforShe” campaign, and they do, because they have the best role model in Sim Tshabalala. He doesn’t only talk the talk, he also walks the walk and you can see from his actions that he is dedicated to this campaign. It is refreshing to see a leader of such a big organisation putting his heart and soul into this.”
Resetting the Culture
Standard Bank has demonstrated that as a brand it cares about women and uplifts them not only in the workplace, but also in society. Pretorius says: “Women are unique and should be treated as such. I believe a workplace should cater for that uniqueness without side-lining our male colleagues.
“Women want to grow, not only in their careers, but also as people — and focusing on that will assist greatly. We are individuals before we are mothers, wives, leaders or employees. If you uplift women in their society and personal environment, it will show in their careers.”
Never Give Up
“Never give up. Keep your chin up so that your crown stays on. Always show up. No matter how bad things are, get up, put your lipstick on, and show up. For me the most important thing you can do is to look after yourself. You cannot look after anyone else if you are not okay,” concludes Pretorius.