Two decades ago, the Standard Bank Top Women journey began, when founder of Topco Media, Dick Fletcher met now-President Cyril Ramaphosa and they discussed the importance of promoting, measuring and celebrating the progress of empowerment in South Africa. This then became the story of 2 intertwined pursuits of a company and a country – backed by a sustained partnership with Standard Bank – dedicated to transformation.
In those days, the definition of empowerment was broad and encompassed both gender and BEE – and so the publication Impumelelo was born, with Standard Bank as one of the first supporting companies. By 2003 there was a shift in focus taking place in the country which resulted in a dichotomy into two equally mainstream agendas – B-BBEEE and gender empowerment.
Impumeleo Top Empowerment publication showcased success stories of black economic empowerment and Top Women was the first of its kind, a publication that focussed on organisations either run, or owned by women, looking at what the best were doing and sharing their stories to encourage others to join the movement.
Standard Bank were integrally involved in this journey, participating as Gold Sponsors between 2011 and 2012 in the Top Women publication, the Awards and the Conferences. In 2012, Funeka Montjane, then-Head of Credit, Personal and Business Banking at Standard Bank South Africa won Business Leader of the Year and a year later the Bank became headline sponsor, merging Standard Bank and Top Women in a powerful partnership dedicated to the empowerment of women throughout Africa.
In 2020 the Standard Bank Top Women partnership was renewed with a press release
stating “Top Women has a track record as Africa’s fearless champion of human rights and
women-driven economic growth. Now, with a secured pathway for the future, Standard Bank Top Women is proud to announce their official support by internationally acclaimed moral leaders the United Nations Women and the Commission for Gender Equality.”
This year also saw the reset button being pressed across the globe and Standard Bank Top
Women has responded by going digital for the first time.
On 02 October 2020, the 17th annual Standard Bank Top Women Awards will take place virtually and viewed across the globe. This awards ceremony bridges the gap between the public and private sector and Large and emerging companies, each year, reaches an audience of over 800 key decision makers. In 2014 Standard Bank of South Africa took up the platinum naming rights to the Top Women Awards; hence the official title, Standard Bank Top Women Awards, South Africa’s leading awards platform for the advancement of women in leadership.
The event, in its 17th year, will once again acknowledge the most sustainable and most successful gender empowerment strategies of organisations’, across all sectors, in the October
2020 awards ceremony.
Fundamentally, the awards ceremony inspires young entrepreneurial women – the backbone of our future economy – to follow the lead of those who have already carved out their road to success – often during the years -long before gender parity was adopted as a pressing issue on the national stage. In the last decade, Top Women has awarded well over 100 women leaders and women-strong organisations’ over the years,thus motivating the pursuit of full gender parity in all spheres of our society.
The Standard Bank Top Women conference is a full 2-day immersive virtual summit with over 100 global leaders in industry, futurists, award winning entrepreneurs, policy makers, industry bodies, change-makers and philanthropists, will engage and share valuable insights and tools to assist and inspire 10,000 leading Women Entrepreneurs and Top Businesswomen in Africa.
The Standard Bank Top Women publication celebrates South African organizations, in both the public and private sectors that prioritise gender empowerment within their business strategies. The well-established platform – comprising publication, digital, awards and conference – drives awareness locally and internationally around the value and impact of women in leadership.