Women in the boardroom: Why they're needed

It's important to create a workplace environment conducive to the growth of women (Shutterstock.com)

Are women in top and senior management positions in South Africa a fairytale fantasy?

The likes of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Thuli Madonsela and Gill Marcus are living proof that women in top and senior management positions are not a phenomenon out of a fairytale. In corporate South Africa, women have made and continue to make a difference in the country. But a quick look around the executive meeting room and gender proportions reveal otherwise.

What stats reveal

A study released in 2012, entitled “Women and Business in Management” has shown why. Published by the International Labour Organisation, the study shows that of 108 countries, South Africa ranked 54th in a survey showing women in management roles.

A similar report released by Grant Thornton International Business in March 2014, also revealed similar findings. According to the business adviser, the proportion of women in senior positions has remained at 24% since 2007. In fact, owing to the global economic crisis, a dip in the stats was experienced in 2011 and 2012.

Not all’s lost

In an interview with Media Online, City Press Editor, Ferial Haffajee commended the growth of women in media - an industry once perceived as only for males. “It is wonderful that our ranks are now populated with excellent women media leaders and there is a second and third generation in the making,” she said. Although no longer a novelty, there’s still more than enough room for improvement, Haffajee claims.

Read: Why we need more women in tech

What needs to be done

Elizabeth Maepa, Executive Member of the FirstRand Group and a firm believer in the establishment of women in leadership positions says, “There needs to be proper planning and creation of a strong multi-skilled pipeline of women. [We] need a high proportion of women who can perform critical functions across all business disciplines to ensure that opportunities at senior- and top-management levels begin to be accessible to women.”

Creating work-place environments conducive to the growth of women is another area Maepa believes can contribute to more women in top management positions. Some companies are already paving the way. “Media24 has great workplace flexibility policies,” Haffajee explains. “We have kids in our newsroom quite regularly. We extended maternity leave and try to run a ship that accommodates working mothers and fathers,” she continues. “I am thinking through ways of running a ship that is not so hard on family time, mine included.”

Learn more about Media24’s company culture.

So, as a woman, can you find your seat in the boardroom? The answer it seems, is an encouraging "Of course!"

The key is not to be held back by your gender. Break the formula and enter your work industry with a sense of self-belief and determination of getting what we want. You’ll soon find the world is your oyster.

Are you ready to find your seat in the boardroom? Careers24 has hundreds of senior and top management positions waiting for you.