Gender Balancing Strategy

The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Draft Bill

According to the draft bill, 50% of executive management positions need to be held by women. Will your company be able to comply?

As we move towards legislation in South Africa that will require all companies to have women fill 50% of every decision-making level, many companies are going to be looking at ways to meet these quotas.

This pending legislation comes in the wake of a global trend that is seeing large numbers of women move into positions of influence in business. Sometimes this trend is driven by quotas (as will likely be the case in SA), but in other countries it’s being driven by social pressure and voluntary measures based on the expedience of this shift.

At the heart of this change, and fundamental to the success of this pending law, is the powerful business case that supports it.  This is not a ‘women’s issue’ but an exciting 21st century business opportunity. A body of evidence now exists that shows that:

  • Women are already the largest, most qualified pool of Talent in the world (and every year, the gap between qualified women and men widens)
  • The consumer is queen – every business will tell you that it is focused on its end-user. 70% of consumer spending world-wide is now in the hands of women, who are now even the majority buyers in areas such as cars and computers (more traditionally male domains)
  • Having women in senior management positions improves corporate governance, leads to better teamwork and cooperation and improves consultation
  • Most importantly of all, the presence of only one woman director on a Board in comparison with Boards which are male-only, improves the bottom-line by, on average, 28%!

Just bringing new female talent into an organisation is not an end in itself.  In order to maximise the benefits of gender balancing, companies need to adapt their culture to one where women will thrive and will be able to make their unique contribution.  This means that every part of the environment needs to be looked at closely to see where pockets of discrimination or unconscious bias might still be lurking.

Achieving successful gender balancing requires significant effort and major change – and this must be actively driven by both the CEO AND the Executive Committee.  HR also needs to be involved, but it cannot be left to this department to ensure that gender balancing happens, or else this major strategic move will be watered down amongst many other responsibilities.

Companies need to become ‘gender bilingual’ – they need to be able to speak and understand both women and men. The positive outcome of this hard work ahead for companies is that successful gender-balancing will almost certainly result in higher sales, more satisfied customers, better corporate governance, increased staff retention and higher profits.  Not an insignificant pay-off for the effort involved!

We offer a comprehensive gender balancing strategy from initial auditing, to conducting an awareness campaign (by communicating the supporting business case to all levels of management), to coordinating workshops that result in comprehensive action plans that are effective and sustainable. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your gender balancing requirements with a view to providing a customised solution for your needs.

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