Gender Inequality in the South African Corporate Sector
Gender inequality is the idea and situation that women and men are not equal. It refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals wholly or partly due to their gender. Today, gender inequality is still a big issue all over the world particularly in South Africa. In South African corporate sector, women are the most affected by it. The number of female leaders in South African companies is still very low despite the effort for gender transformation in senior position at companies. With almost one third (29%) of senior roles in South Africa are now filled by women, one in five local businesses (20%) still have no women at all in senior positions.
The issue of women being highly underrepresented in senior position in both public and private sector is not new. There are barriers that women have to face when they want to get to the top level position even if they have the achievements or qualifications and other characteristics that are job-relevant such as experience, education, and abilities.
The following are some of the reasons that contribute to the under-representation of women in the South African corporate sector and the ways or solution on how to address its occurrence in South African industry.
1. Negative experience (disrespectful behaviour) such as sexual harassment and lack of inclusion are amongst others discouraging factors to women’s career advancement particularly for those in junior and middle management position. A woman doesn’t last long in the company if this negative behaviour exists. The organization can build a safe place and support in the workplace for women where they can share their experiences within the organisation to raise awareness. And there must me be a clear sexual harassment policy within the organization.
2. A lack of confidence and inability to balance career and family. We know that most women are the primary caregivers at home. Most women give up their job to look after their kids. The organization can put up crèche and other facilities for working moms to help them feel more welcome or part of the company without feeling the guilt of leaving their kids at home. This will encourage them to keep working.
3. Few women are not trained and board ready. The organization can up skill more women to create a group of board savvy women that are large enough for organisation to draw from the future. Training and coaching whether for or on the-the-job are amongst the most practical means by which people feel that their takes a vested interest in their professional and personal growth.
4. Women are held to higher standards and have to do more to prove themselves. We all know that companies are mostly run by men, for women to compete with men they have to do better than their men colleagues. Organization must encourage men to help motivate their female colleague who has potential to become one of the top executives. Instead of discouraging women, men must provide mentorship to women and guide them.
5. Many businesses are not ready to hire women for top level positions. Organization needs to be more open to the idea of having female leaders. These help employees to get inspired to reach top management position within the company.
Conclusion and Recommendations
A lot of work must still be done in order to solve the gender inequality issue in South African corporate sector. Organization must keep empowering women, because more diverse teams make better decisions and are more resilient. Government has also an important role to play in empowering women across the economic spectrum. But it is more important that we continue to tackle gender biases and redefine gender roles at formal places of education, within our own households and within our broader communities.