The business landscape in South Africa is constantly changing. In recent times, we have seen many companies, both locally and abroad, with powerful women leaders at the helm who continue to guide their companies to success. As Women’s Month ends, Outsourced Finance would like to continue celebrating women entrepreneurs, pioneers, and innovators both locally and Internationally.
Women for innovation
From geographical location and gender to race and ethnicity, diversity, in its many forms, has been known to drive innovation. Because of women’s different perspectives, skills, and experiences, they solve problems in new and innovative ways. Even though women in South Africa have been overlooked in business for decades, we have shining examples of powerful women who have risen through the ranks and commanded huge companies. The likes of Dr. Judy Dlamini, Pam Golding, Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwe, and Lillian Barnard come to mind when we talk of those who have overcome many hurdles to rise to the top in their respective industries. There is an even longer list of women who have been making industry waves in their respective fields, perhaps without media attention.
Even though we have made a lot of progress, women are still grossly underrepresented in business in South Africa. We are far from the point where women and men all have equal opportunities at success. So, what is holding local women back? For starters, access to finance is a common stumbling block for women starting businesses in South Africa. Success rates for SMMEs are already low, failure to access and secure finance only means that a lot of women-led businesses do not even get a fighting chance. Women who operate in traditionally male environments may also struggle to build a network when their community is dominated by men. We need to change our entire approach of business if we are to pave a well-balanced economy in the future.
Statistics show that the business world has yet to fully bridge the benefits of women in leadership roles with actual participation and investment.
A total of 19 countries around the world are currently led by women, and throughout the first few months of the pandemic, most of them had in common a relative success in fighting the COVID 19 virus. A recent study revealed that some characteristics that are typical to women in leadership positions were instrumental in the success of their countries. However, in the case of the Covid-19 pandemic, they found that women were risk-averse when it came to human lives and less risk-averse to risking the economy.
Diversity is the winning formula
Balanced representation in leadership can lead to the organization making better, long term decisions. Data from more than a million small or medium-sized companies analysed by insolvency practitioners, KSA Group indicated that those with a mix of both men and women on their boards were the least likely to fail. Countless research papers that suggest that the increase of women in leadership is helping businesses to thrive in unprecedented ways.
To a large part, many big industries in South Africa remain male-dominated, perhaps the introduction of women could open the industry to innovation and different views on doing things. Women have a lot to offer the business world, it is just about not paying lip service and making it possible for more women to enter the ranks of business.
We are excited to see the future of South Africa, where women will thrive and engage in meaningful ways to the economy.