SA companies falling shy of gender quotas

SA companies falling shy of gender quotas

SOUTH African businesses have a big shortfall to fill should the government stand firm on its demand that half of all decision-making positions be filled by women.

Globally, the proportion of women holding senior business roles has remained steady at 24%, the same as last year and in 2009 and 2007. But the percentage of senior women in business is down 2% in South Africa from last year and has remained fairly static at between 26% and 28%. This is according to research from Grant Thornton’s 2014 International Business Report on Women in Business. It was released on Saturday to coincide with International Women’s Day.

The Women Empowerment Gender Equality Bill, adopted in the National Assembly this week, calls for at least 50% of decision-making posts to be held by women. Most South African businesses (79%) do not run a specific programme to support or mentor women and they are not considering launching one.

The Grant Thornton report says only 26% of senior management positions in South Africa are filled by women, and just more than one-fifth (21%) of local businesses have no women at all in senior management.

Jeanette Hern, deputy CEO of Grant Thornton Johannesburg, said the proportion of women in senior management positions had to be greater. “Business, however, is strongly opposed to the 50% requirement set out in the gender bill as a way of addressing the problems, because it has several shortcomings.”

There has been opposition from several quarters, including Business Unity South Africa, which argues that the 50% target is “unrealistic and unattainable”.

Another objection to the bill’s 50% quota is that the measure is likely to benefit only women who are already in the workplace and not the millions of unemployed. There are also several occupations that do not attract enough women.

Globally, there is a much higher proportion of オンライン カジノ women in sectors such as education, social services, personal services and hospitality, but the ratio is much lower in mining, agriculture, utilities, real estate, construction and manufacturing.

“There are already a number of laws promoting women empowerment and South Africa does not have the skills to fill this ambitious target,” said Ms Hern. “Added concern relates to the policing of this new law and the ongoing problem of having to monitor and enforce this legislation.”

Only 52% of companies polled in the survey said they would support the introduction of quotas for the number of women on the executive boards of large listed companies. This is down from 60% in 2013. “The stringent new gender bill requirements could, in fact, be the main reason fewer companies want to support the introduction of quotas compared with just 12 months ago,” said Ms Hern.

Bric countries boast a 4% increase in the number of women in senior positions, from 28% in 2013 to 32% this year. Russia (43%) and China (38%) are way up the rankings, although in India the percentage is only 11%.

Ms Hern said population demographics, urbanisation and equality of opportunity were behind the high rates in Russia and China. The former Soviet Union placed a huge emphasis on gender equality, best highlighted by the promotion of women to senior sector roles.

Russia also has a total population gender ratio in favour of women. China’s one-child policy had lowered the burden of childcare and rapid urbanisation had raised the aspirations of women, said Ms Hern.

According to the Grant Thornton survey, developed economies tend to be lower on the list than the Bric countries. The US has 22% of senior positions filled by women, a notch lower than the European Union at 23%. Countries with patriarchal societies, such as Japan and the United Arab Emirates, are at or near the bottom of the ratings with 9% and 11%, respectively.

In South Africa, more than one in 10 businesses that have at least one woman in senior management have a female CEO, and 29% have plans to hire or promote more women to senior management over the next 12 months.

The survey also shows that 68% of local businesses offer mentoring or coaching and 56% offer flexible working hours.

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