Just 25% of executive-level positions at JSE Top 40 held by women
Jane Dutton talks gender equality with Tracey Davies, Executive Director at Just Share.
Gender and race bias continue to define South Africa's labour market at different levels.
Sobering statistics have come out of a new study on gender equality at board and executive level in the JSE Top 40 companies.
Only 35% of board seats and 25% of executive level positions at the Top 40 companies are held by women, the Just Share report shows.
This is in spite of the fact that women make up 46% of South Africa’s economically active population, and despite a "significant increase" over the last 20 years in their representation in the lower-to-middle occupational levels.
Transformation in South Africa’s labour market remains a significant challenge, but there has been more focus on racial transformation than there has on gender equality. Despite the considerable strides made in reducing gender gaps in education, there remain significant gender disparities in labour market outcomes.Just Share
This is reflected in the under-representation of women in senior decision-making roles across the private sector... The 23rd Commission for Employment Equity Annual Report (2022 - 2023) finds that 'the South African labour market continues to be racialised and gendered” and that “the provision of opportunities appears to remain inherently linked to certain population groups and gender at the upper occupational levels'.Just Share
The JSE Top 40 companies are no exception to these trends, the Just Share study shows:
· Bidvest Groupis the only company in the Top 40 with gender parity or better at both board and executive level: 75% of the company’s board positions are held by women, and 50% of its executives are women.
· Only four other companies have gender parity at board level (Exxaro Resources and Impala Platinum) or executive level (BHP Group and Woolworths).
· Only five of the Top 40 have company boards led by female chairs (Anglo Gold Ashanti, Capitec, Impala Platinum, Shoprite and Standard Bank) and only four have female CEOs (Anglo American Platinum, Bidvest Group, Clicks Group and Exxaro Resources).
It's an old story, the causes of which go back thousands of years laments Tracy Davies in conversation with Jane Dutton.
Davies is Executive Director at Just Share, which is a local non-profit shareholder activism organisation.
It's about socialisation, it's about stereotypes, about discrimination. Unfortunately these are not things that just go away on their own - they need really concerted efforts to overcome these paradigms that just keep repeating themselves.Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
And of course if you have board members who are appointing executive-level women and the boards are dominated by men, then you see well-documented elements of things like in-group favouritism where people are more likely to appoint people _like _them to senior roles.Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
Davies also cites the perception that confident and assertive men are considered to be 'natural leaders', but confident and assertive women are considered to be 'unnatural' and 'unfeminine'.
And there is a really large confidence gap between men and women that we don't talk about and that we don't address in these areas, and we equate low confidence with low competence and so there are a large array of factors that contribute to these poor numbers.Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
I don't believe that as a society we really are trying to address them very directly, and certainly in the corporate sector there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of conversation about how to overcome these barriers.Tracey Davies, Executive Director - Just Share
Scroll up to listen to the thought-provoking conversation
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