South Africa still making minimal progress in addressing gender gaps

16th August 2022

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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New research contained in advisory and professional services firm PwC South Africa’s '2022 Executive Directors Report' shows that minimal progress has been made in balancing gender representation in senior positions at top JSE-listed companies since January 2020.

The first and most important step towards resolving the gender pay gap is equal gender representation within senior positions, says PwC South Africa people and organisation reward co-lead Leila Ebrahimi.

PwC analysed new hires into vacant executive roles in JSE-listed companies in the past year to assess the ratio of female-to-male appointments.

At June 2022, only seven of the JSE Top 100 companies were led by female CEOs, compared with 5% across all listed companies in 2021, with the representation of female CFOs sitting at 19% compared with 17% during the prior year. Of the entire executive population of all JSE-listed companies, 15% is female, compared with 13% during the preceding year, says Ebrahimi.

Between January 2020 and June 2022, there were 208 new appointments into executive positions across the JSE, of which only 53, or 25%, were female. In the JSE Top 100, there were 77 new appointments into executive positions of which 21, or 26%, were female. Further, in the JSE Top 40, there were 33 new executive appointments of which 10, or 30%, were female, she highlights.

The report also addresses the war on skilled female talent and looks at how many companies are struggling to retain their key and critical skilled female employees in the face of a serious bidding war.

“In cases where the internal pipeline is lacking, women who have succeeded in other companies become targets for poaching. Without widespread, appropriate succession planning, the problem will prevail, particularly in the context of a wider skills gap and executive talent shortage,” Ebrahimi notes.

Change can be driven and accelerated in several ways. The report highlights key ways this can be done, including successful succession planning which goes beyond merely identifying appropriate individuals, which also requires companies to actively seek to fill executive committee and senior management roles with skilled candidates from designated groups.

Further, understanding and developing organisational culture to ensure organisations are aware of the existing culture and listen to and engage with female employees to better understand their perceptions of their environment can help to drive change.

Similarly, creating a supportive policy framework to support well-formulated, clear policies, and one which is assessed with diversity and inclusion objectives in mind can drive change, and accelerating the change process with key performance indicators and considering mentorship and skills transfer from existing leadership to female successors can also support change, says Ebrahimi.

“While we have observed that some progress has been made with increasing the number of female appointments to executive positions, companies also need to focus on how to retain female talent for longer periods. On average, female leaders spend between one and five years in their roles, compared to males who often hold positions of between three to eight years,” PwC South Africa people and organisation reward partner Makhosazana Mabaso says.

“In driving the retention of female talent over the longer term, employers need to take active steps to ensure that sound and effective succession plans are in place to cement a strong pipeline of female talent. Employers should furthermore ensure that conscious steps are taken to provide women, particularly those identified as future successors, with the opportunities to grow within their roles and areas of expertise,” she highlights.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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