SA women in business far better than global average

2012-03-08 07:14

With 28% of senior management positions held by women this year, South Africa does better than the global average, a survey has found.

“The fact that South Africa’s women are strongly represented in senior management relative to many other parts of the world, says a lot about the progress the country has made in promoting gender equality,” said Jeannette Hern, partner and corporate finance head at Grant Thornton Johannesburg, today.

The research is contained in the 2012 Grant Thornton International Business Report, which surveys trends in privately-held businesses in 40 economies around the world.

The global average for women in senior management positions is 21%.

Hern said this figure had changed little in the past five years. “We need more innovative solutions in order to make a significant dent in the number of women still excluded from senior management.”

In 2007, 29% of senior management positions were held by women. This dropped to 28% in 2009 and 27% last year.

Hern said possible solutions could include finding more creative ways to accommodate women in the workplace.

“Only 39% of the women surveyed in South Africa indicated that their businesses offer flexible working conditions such as flexible hours and alternative locations to work from,” she said.

She believed business needed to consider women for a greater spectrum of management roles.

Most women in senior management are either human resource directors (20%) or finance directors (20%), the research found.

Of those surveyed, only 8% of chief executives and 9% of chief operating officers were women.

Hern said this was a marked improvement from last year’s results, when only 3% of women held these positions.

The global average for women chief executives was 9% and for chief operating officers was 12%, Grant Thornton said.

Regionally, Gauteng had the highest proportion of women in senior management at 30%. It was followed by Cape Town and Eastern Cape with 28% each. KwaZulu-Natal lagged with 25% of women in senior management.

Gauteng also had the highest proportion of women chief executives at 12%. Eastern Cape had 4.2% of women in chief executive positions.

Gauteng also had the highest proportion of businesses offering flexible working conditions, the research showed.

The Group of Seven (G7) nations are behind the global average, with only 18% of women in senior management positions.

Russia has the highest proportion of women in senior management positions at 46%. Botswana is the African country with the highest proportion of women in senior management at 39%.

South Africa’s average of 28% is slightly ahead of the Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) group of emerging economies with an average of 26% women in senior management, the survey found.

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