Women’s Month

Visionary Woman Rising

Visionary Woman Rising

by Fariba Bowen

In their call for nominations for their Women Changing South Africa feature, the Mail and Guardian mentions that 2019 has been dubbed the year of the visionary woman. Quoting from their article, they shared:

“We are seeing stories of women shattering ceilings, redefining what it means to be successful and speaking out about the injustices in their communities and beyond.

These women are groundbreakers. Truth tellers. Change agents.

They are challenging the status quo. Marching on the streets and playing their role in shaping the nation we live in. These outstanding individuals stand on the shoulders of a long line of resilient, bold and renegade women who came before them.”

An Independent Online feature article for Women’s Month reported that according to executive search firm Jack Hammer, the appointment of women in corporate positions is rising consistently, from 26% in 2015, to 32% (2016), 38% (2017) and ultimately, 52% last year.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has also walked the talk, ensuring a 50% representation in his Cabinet which has washed down to provincial government appointments that have mirrored the president.

Recently, at least three prominent female chief executive appointments were made in South Africa, with Anglo announcing the appointment of veteran executive Nolitha Fakude, as chair of the group, accounting firm PwC putting forward Shirley Machaba as its new chief executive for Southern Africa and Naspers appointing Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, as its first black and female chief executive.

But still, only 3.3% of chief executives on the JSE are women. Women are still mostly to be found in supporting roles, such as human resources, marketing, legal, and compliance. Very few run full-scale business divisions, or have accountability for profit-and-loss, operations or finance.

If companies are truly motivated to shift the needle on the gender demographic, when it comes to chief executive and senior supporting roles, they have to start populating their executive teams with a sufficient number of women, in relevant roles.

Alongside gender parity, in terms of appointments of women in corporates, is the issue of the gender pay gap. According to a recently released PwC report, there is no sector in which, overall, female executive directors are paid more than men. The largest pay gaps are in healthcare (28.1%), followed by consumer discretionary (25.1%), technology (22.9%) and financials (21.8%). 

The PwC report concludes that to bring about real change, companies should not address gender parity and diversity concerns to appease individuals or organisations, but should treat these initiatives as being essential components in their long-term success.

It is known that women bring a whole different set of qualities into leadership positions that help to create a more balanced, empathetic and successful working environment. A Business News Daily survey of female leaders on women in power highlights some of the strengths of feminine leadership:

  1. They value work-life balance.
  2. They are great listeners.
  3. They are nurturing.
  4. They focus on teamwork.
  5. They’re good at multi-tasking.
  6. They’re strong communicators.
  7. They have high emotional intelligence.
  8. They’re strong communicators.
  9. They lead by example.
  10. They check their egos.

Women are less likely than men to push themselves into power positions. It will therefore take a consciousness shift on the part of men to recognize the value that women bring to organizations and make space for women to lead and for women to have courage to recognize, own and develop their natural leadership potential.

“Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.” – Maya Angelou

Welder Ntombi Nkabinde breaks the gender stereotype mould

This article was originally published in the The Star – The Workplace, Wednesday, September 2, 2015, page 5. ***

It has been 50 years since the month of August was bookmarked as Women’s Month, but a silent protest still rages quietly in the corporate world.

The challenges which plague the ‘contemporary’ working woman come in all shapes and sizes. The challenges she faces are like a well-baked pastry pie made of the finest ingredients misogyny has to offer: sexual harassment, office power dynamics based on patriarchal beliefs, and gender discrimination.

In a recent article written by Anita Bosch, titled ‘Women are still paid less than men in South African companies’, Bosch mentions that “the South African gender pay gap is estimated, on average, to be between 15%-17%. This implies that a South African woman would need to work two months more than a man to earn the equivalent salary that he would earn in a year.”

Breaking the mould

Ntombi Nkabinde (31) is a welder, with an NQF 3 qualification obtained at the  The SAJ Competency Training Institute, a project which was managed  by i-Fundi Customer Solutions  – a private Further Education and Training college, registered with Umalusi and the Services Seta.

Nkabinde is one of many who entered the artisan learnership programme which was funded by The Gauteng City Region Academy (GCRA), which is making commendable strides in making a significant contribution in the public sector development, reducing the high unemployment rate in South Africa.

Nkabinde completed her level 2 and 3 programme, and awaits the commencement of level 4 in order to fully qualify as an artisan.

She reflects on her experience as a woman who has been exposed to working in a largely male-dominated field. “I feel as though I have been somewhat disadvantaged because I am a woman who happens to be a welder by profession”, she says. “At the company where I did my practicals, the ratio of women was 100 to 1 – yes, I was the only women working with men. It is an intimidating situation to be in because you feel you have to work twice as hard to prove yourself”, she continues.

Nkabine reflects with disdain to the disrespect she would sometimes have to endure from the men she worked with. “They felt like I was misplaced working as welder”, she says.

“Men tend to undermine the capabilities we have as women. They must understand that respect is a double-edged sword – it must be earned to be received. I remember I would sometimes go home and cry because the situation was so challenging at work- but in hindsight it made me stronger. I am a better woman today because of that experience”, she concludes confidently.

Is this an objective view of the 21st century workplace experience for women? e-mail your views to amanda.maliba@inl.co.za.


Stand a chance to win a bursary with i-Fundi!

i-Fundi would like to offer a learnership bursary to (a) deserving person(s). You are invited to submit a motivational letter of no more than 350 words, motivating why you should be awarded the opportunity to be placed in a learnership with one of the host employers in our database.

The lucky winners will be contacted telephonically, announced  on our Facebook page and website, and placed in a 12 month learnership.  Please note that we have extended the closing date to Monday, 14 September 2015, at 12:00.  The announcement will be made on this respective date.

Email the motivational letter to: nyeleti@i-fundi.com.