Greater gender diversity within businesses leads to a myriad of benefits including more diverse problem-solving, increased organisational collaboration as well as better employee engagement. However, while the majority (51,2%) of the South African population and 45% of the local workforce are women, a mere 20% of directors of the JSE-listed companies are female and only 26 out of the 277 JSE-listed companies that took part in the BWASA Women in Leadership Census, had a 25% or greater female representation on their board.
These statistics are particularly concerning as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and co-founder of AMAZI Divya Vasant believes that there will only be more economic opportunities unlocked for women in South Africa, when women are put into leadership positions within public and private organisations and are then able to help make such positions more accessible to more women. “This is central to why we exist as an organisation and why we have launched initiatives such as our incubation programme, through which incubate entrepreneurial talent among women of colour within the wellness industry. In addition, we also try and work with female-owned companies within our supply chain,” explains Vasant.
More skills and access, more opportunities to grow female representation amongst business owners and managers
Across the globe, the gender pay gap is widening, with the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Global Gender Gap Report 2018 ranking South Africa as 19th overall in terms of our gender gap equality. In this report, it is noted that a meagre 3.3% of chief executives on the JSE were female, as measured during the period under review.
AMAZI’s incubation programme empowers women to start their own ventures in the sector by equipping them with the infrastructure, toolkits, training and ongoing mentoring support to build sustainable incomes through AMAZI’s commercial stores. Furthermore, AMAZI’s skills development program offers young, unemployed women the opportunity to gain important soft skills that help ready them to enter the working world as a precursor to the technical beauty skills the organisation imparts that helps young women start their careers. When we incubate micro-enterprises with women who have lost jobs within the wellness industry, we empower them to be self-sufficient, which for us is so much more than having a technical skill. It’s learning how to create and grow income for yourself, how to change the relationship you have with money, how to rewire the limiting self-beliefs that hold you back and how to lean on a community of women who want to see you succeed. Ultimately, this initiative will establish access to a pipeline of newly qualified talent that can assist with growing micro-enterprises at a time when the country and economy really needs it,” adds Vasant.
Moving the female leadership representation needle forward
Beyond programmes like these, AMAZI also recently revealed that the co-creator and Chief Operations Officer (COO) of the business, Lisa Mgcotyelwa, has been appointed to the board of directors of SAAHSP (South African Association of Health and Skincare Professionals). This veteran social entrepreneur is on a mission to drive change in the landscape of the health and beauty industry, by championing the economic inclusion of women.
“This appointment is simply one example of the multiplier effect that happens when women are placed in positions that enable them to make decisions that create opportunities for other women. This does not simply unlock various benefits for the individual businesses and organisations who increase their gender diversity, but for the local and global economy as well, with a McKinsey study from back in 2015 already finding that a whopping $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 simply by closing gender gaps in the workplace and within society,” concludes Vasant.