Professional services firm PwC’s twenty-fourth yearly ‘Global CEO Survey’ finds that CEOs have an improved outlook and record high optimism about the global economy, with 68% of CEOs in Africa believing growth will improve this year.
This compares with 76% of CEOs outside of Africa being optimistic that growth will improve this year.
In Africa, the survey finds that 30% of CEOs think their own organisations will experience revenue growth this year, against 36% of global CEOs holding the same view.
PwC notes that this is a reversion to the long-term mean and a significant rebound from the 2020 survey, which was conducted before the Covid-19 pandemic started.
However, worrying CEOs is the growing threat of cybercrime and security, says PwC Africa CEO Dion Shango, who says there have been an increasing number of cybercrime cases, particularly in areas such as the US.
“This is something that has gone right to the top of the board agenda with many organisations often being caught off-guard and unprepared in dealing with a cyberattack and not knowing how to deal with or negotiate with cybercriminals,” he says.
Shango adds that there have been one or two examples of this in South Africa in the past two to three years, with some of the large listed companies having had to deal with such an unforeseen event.
CLIMATE CHANGE & WORKPLACE WELLBEING
Another worry for CEOs is climate change and how they plan to approach the matter.
In this regard, PwC reports that. in 2020, 30% of CEOs in Africa recognised climate change as an extreme concern, a figure dropping to 22% this year.
Twenty-four per cent of global CEOs regarded climate as an extreme threat in 2020, compared with 30% this year.
PwC notes that, in the context of rising anxiety about other threats, climate change has been relegated as less of a concern.
This translates into 32% of African CEOs reporting not being concerned at all or very much about climate change, and that 64% of African CEOs have not factored climate change into their strategic risk management activities.
In terms of a CEO’s focus on managing the performance, health and wellbeing of their workforces, PwC’s survey finds that 44% of CEOs in Africa are prioritising performance management and 36% health, wellbeing and workforce engagement and communication.
However, at the bottom of the list of workforce priorities for CEOs in Africa, at only 10%, was diversity and inclusion within their organisations, which compares against 25% of global CEOs prioritising the matter.
Also, 90% of respondents to PwC’s survey were male, a factor Shango says needs to be addressed with an increase in gender equality.
He adds that diversity and inclusion are not only about balancing gender dynamics in the workplace, but also about the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the workplace, as well as a myriad of other marginalised demographics.
In addition, Shango says global CEOs seem to be paying more attention to diversity and inclusion as a result of recent events, particularly in the US (in specific reference to the murder of George Floyd in the US), which have shone the spotlight on diversity injustices, perceptions and biases.