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Companies are battling to meet their gender targets

Opportunities for at least 84 women to join JSE-listed company boards.

Only 10 of the 267 JSE-listed companies analysed in a new study have gender parity on their boards.

The report, issued by the 30% Club Southern Africa, researched the opportunities that exist for women on boards based on companies’ gender policies – and found that there are in fact many, as companies have failed to meet their gender targets.

The research follows new listing requirements put in place at the beginning of last year for listed companies to adopt gender policies.

Amendments to the JSE’s listings requirements include the promotion of gender diversity at board level. As a result, some companies have provided general comments on diversity and others have acknowledged the requirement and said they are looking at it, the 30% Club said. (The JSE itself has a female CEO, CFO and chairperson.)

The research, covering 2017, was based on 267 of the 365 companies listed on the JSE during last year. Of the 267, only 217 reported on gender at board level and of those, only 37 met their gender representation targets, while 32 have no women on their boards at all.

Women continue to be underrepresented at top executive and board level.

According to the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s 2017 women in leadership census, which measured 277 listed companies and 20 state-owned entities, only 20.7% of directors and 29.4% of executive managers were women. At the top leadership level of organisations, women accounted for only 11.8% of CEOs or chairpersons.

Almost a third of South African companies failed to have any female representation in senior leadership roles, and female directorships fell from 21% in 2015 to 19% (85% non-executive) in 2017.

Limited progress

There has been limited progress since 2008. The percentage of female directors went up from 14.3% to 20.7%, but the number of companies with female CEOs has hardly moved – from 13 in 2008 to 14 in 2017. Only 7.1% of companies had a female chairperson, compared to 9.2% in 2015 and 3.9% in 2008.

Grant Thornton’s research on women in business, released in March, shows similar trends. It said 29% of senior roles in South Africa are filled by women and that one in five local businesses (20%) still have no women at all in senior positions.

Malcolm Larsen, company secretary at Business Engage, which looks at gender in the private sector and was involved in the research released on November 7, says Adcock Ingram is one of the few companies with gender parity, having seven male and seven female board members. At the other end of the scale, Stellar Capital had 10 male and no female board members, although it has said that it is aiming for gender parity.

“What we do see is there is willingness of companies to look at gender because of the business case,” says Larsen. “There are many who do want to do the right things for the right reasons.”

Lip service

There are others who have a policy in place and may have one or two female board members and feel they have fulfilled their responsibility.

According to Larsen, research in the US has shown that the shelf life of S&P 500 companies is about 15 years, compared to 67 years in the 1920s. It also showed that 40% of the S&P 500 companies that are around today won’t be around 10 years time. “New companies coming up will be those you have never heard of and they are going to take over S&P and presumably JSE positions and they don’t have legacies to deal with and this may or may not have a material impact on board representation.”

Larsen says the JSE should be commended for what it has done in terms of having gender requirements, as King codes on corporate governance and non-executive rotation requirements have done little to change board representation, while 81% of the companies researched have now made a comment on gender policy since this was introduced last year.

The 30% Club research showed that of the 217 companies that reported on gender at board level, there are opportunities for 84 women to join the boards, with most (94%) of the companies indicating they have room for only one or two more female board members.

Listen: The state of gender on JSE-listed boards

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Sa companies are struggling to make decent earnings. Despite a global boom we are in recession with SOE s close to broke. Isn’t gender equality a minor issue …for growing countries? Where are the priorities? Surely a non transformed business making money is more attractive to foreign investors than a transformed one that is dying.

@SamtheTaxman…in the new left wing socialist libtard world, equality is more important than fundamentals

This has trickled down into our sports……politics [ EWC…BEE.. ]…education etc

Its a race to the bottom

Why on earth does maintsream media keep pushing the same agenda ?

Quite simply, has any considered that women arent actually INTERESTED in the highly competitive business world of CEO’s, where a 80hr workweek is standard ??

Just as men are NOT interested in crochet…or jewellery….. make up [ well, the red blooded ones that is ]

And women are not inclined at all to engineering/sciences/maths etc

Just like red blooded men are not generally drawn to nursing/fashion design/needlework/baby rearing

We are obviously quite simply WIRED DIFFERENTLY !!!!!

Apply the bell curve and it makes complete sense

So stop rehasing the same old headlines [ ‘Not enough women in engineering’……Lack of women in computer science’…and so on ]

This is precisely why ppl like Jordan Peterson are making such waves

Stating the truth…

Which in this left wing world is not appreciated

I agree with @RealityBites, why don’t they reference what Norway found when they removed all obstacles for gender in the workplace? Men gravitated on average to more technical professions while women tended toward more caring professions. Although there are outliers in both genders the bulk tends towards gender stereotypes.


we call on Marcia to report on the effect of the long running gender equality policies from the Nordic countries..

there is a great article out recently in Science “Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality”

Or about the Gender Variability Hypothesis?

Rock the boat a bit Marcia!

However I am 100% sure she can not be unbiased in the matter,

safe in the pseudo science arena where you always right!

Even the CIO of SARS is lamenting that girls can’t be part of the Drakensberg BOYS choir…we have a serious issue on our hands.

I see so many articles like this and not one has put a ounce of work into finding out why. It’s no secret that certain groups are under represented but go do some real researcg and find out why, how many woman are in the market for top leadership positions, how many have the experience and qualifications to do so, if there are significant numbers then why are they not being put in those positions?

I don’t know the answer to any of the above and not trying to insinuate anything but showing the same data over and over again is not useful and to be me just feels like a bit of click bait.


Because the new liberal society does not WANT to recognise the obvious differences in the sexes

Hence, society as we know crumbling

The left wing is attacking the very traditional roles that supported a healthy family in the past

Look around at the effects – its a race to the bottom

I agree and I think the whole ultra-left movements floating around are going to lead to disaster.

I am also more interested in looking at individuals rather than generalizing across thousands, millions or billions of people.

Not everyone can sit on a board of a large listed company, in fact it is a tiny fraction of people who want and can do so.

I have seen plenty of excellent woman in senior leadership positions, that is my personal experience and I have also seen plenty of woman more interested in maintaining a healthy family balance, also perfectly fine. I have never seen a woman or any other exceptional person being blocked from a senior position.

I just find the ultra-left approach of attacking every person within a demographic and generalizing ironic because surely they should be fighting against generalization.

I look forward to the age of individualism vs identify politics.

Look around you. The reason there is inequality is simple: people have different abilities. When wealth is created some people can produce a lot, others a little and others none. Some prefer to be parasites and spend their life consuming wealth others have created that has been extracted by the regime using force or threat of force. Differing innate abilities lead to inequality of outcomes. By not producing wealth, one can have equality of outcomes but as soon as wealth creation aka economic freedom occurs, we will have inequality. Equality of outcomes and freedom are thus mutually exclusive. You can be free or you can be equal. If you are equal you are not free. Imposing gender targets to achieve equality of outcomes is thus a nail in the coffin of economic freedom.

I am a retired professional woman. However much I am in favour of equal rights for females in the work place, there are some hard realities that face women. This is just one observation:
Often it happens that mothers phone in that their childen are sick, and that they cannor report for duty.Any reasonable person could empathize with that – in the work situation it places tremendous pressure on the rest of the staff. And it usually are the same few people who has to carry the bucket.Maybe society does still not support working mothers?

@JLN….mmm…possibly the reality is that women are not generally cut out for that kind of high demand work then

Rather then the workforce dropping fundamentals to accommodate, possibly women should reconsider the realities of what is possible ?

Just as I can NEVER run a 100m like Ussain Bolt [ my genes just dont accommodate that ], so it applies in every other sphere of the world

Is this not reality ?…instead of blaming companies etc to continually be pressurized to hire more female engineers..female computer scientists etc etc

The simple reason is women just dont GRAVITATE to that kind of field

So, why on earth are we trying to FORCE this notion ??????

The other issue is perhaps not whether woman, or any man are cut out for high demand work, but rather; who really wants to be on the board of a company?

As if working 9-10 hours a day is not enough already, the few at the top carry much more weight, baggage and stress.

Retailing Industry – especially clothing, women are the main drivers in these businesses, yet women are not represented at top management levels on most listed companies.

One just needs to look at WW, Truworths Foshini, Mr Price, Pepkor management boards, to see that there are very few women, other than in a few insistences where the HR position is a women, but beyond that positions are filled with men, mostly white.

Very sick situations as there are many women in the industry who have the experience and expertise but men are fearful….. Government needs to address this situation seeing companies are not willing to address the matter themselves.


What tripe

Plse go watch some Jordan Peterson to get a reality check

Its not that women arent wanted – they are just less ambitious or driven as men overall

This is why ALL stressful and highly competitive jobs are dominated by men [ ever heard of testosterone ? ]

Even though men generally welcome a woman in their workplace, its rather about genetic PREDISPOSITION than any other factors that lands up being the natural selector [ ever WONDERED why woman gravitate to fashion…beauty…..nursing….and men towards machines….engineering….coding etc ???? ]

Just accept the differences in the sexes and stop trying to legislate this difference

The focus is always on the number women in executive jobs, yet nobody looks at the statistics of women occupied as bricklayers, miners, car mechanics and general labourers. Generally the “equality in numbers” is only pursued with regard to high paying office jobs and the low end is ignored, why? On the other hand, there is no drastic increase in the number of men in jobs like primary school teachers, nurses, childminders and caretakers of the elderly. Maybe men are better at certain jobs and women are better at certain jobs? This obsession with equality in numbers at all costs is detached from all reality.

Amazing to see the majority of the comments reflect the obvious, yet we are bombarded with this pseudo science rubbish everyday. even here on Moneyweb but fitting for economist no?

The engineer at Google got fired for pointing this out, the engineering body head lost his job (although he was right he was a bit cocky about it) and another top CERN physicist recently lost his job for presenting stats “gender workshop” of a large study that just did not fit the narrative.

science of plain reasoning is not allowed in this new victim hood world

As a teenager girl, I beg to differ with everything written on the comment section. I would like to start off by saying that I am pursuing a course in accounting science to later qualify as CA, recently got admitted to university. I would like to have the opportunity to a leader/manager in the near future. Yes this gender gap is relevant and important to me.

Women have become more invested in educating young women on science and math because men had the upper hand of being taught these basic subjects throughout history. If we look closely into the lives of men in the previous era, you will discover that the all the political, economic, social sectors were mostly handled by men. Men had and continue to have access to resources and information that women don’t have because their historical background gave them an upper hand. If you women and men were treated like equals in the ancient times, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Women were deprived of education, uncredited for their inventions, earned lower income and had limited job opportunities. Women belonged in the kitchen while men pursued their careers to gain authority and power in the economy. The gender gap is an outcome of the gender inequality caused by historical events.

Sad to say you are starting life with a millstone around your neck the size of the titanic and it will sink you just as surely. I would never hire you although that chance of that taking place is just about zero. When I look at successful people and failures, two things stand out: The first is passion for what you do and the second is having an internal locus of control. Today there is equality of opportunity but we need equality of outcomes thus trampling freedom and destroying initiative in typical leftist fashion. You have an external locus. Every time you will fail it will be somebody or something else’s fault. The patriarchy, racism and men. Historical/ current circumstance. Males. Economics. Social. Your historical background. Somebody else. Something else. Never you.

The best person I ever hired was a Russian woman. Dedicated and passionate yet sensitive and with 100% integrity. Never failed to take the initiative. Never let anything stand in the way of getting the job done and achieving the goals set out to her. She took the message to Garcia

In January, I qualified for a diploma, no Rechard I did not blame the school instead I applied to write a supplementary exam. My results came in June and I had a bachelor pass. When applying, my applications were all declined because I did not meet the minimum requirements. No Richard I did not blame the universities instead I applied to write an NBT and many assessment tests that could enable me to qualify for an accounting science course. My passion for accounting is what kept me going throughout the year, I made phone calls and emailed various unversities about my applications. I recently received a call stating that the university admitted me to an accounting science course because of the external measures that I took.

The moral of the story is that don’t paint me to be someone who dwells on the failures of the past.

In the statement above, I outlined how historical events have an impact on the current economy. I urge to do research about the history of women, gender inequality and political, economic and social placements in the past. You will discover that the gender gap is an outcome of the historical events (as stated above).

And Richard, this is just the beginning of a new chapter in my life which has to have failures in order for me to become successful. I stand a zero chance of being hired by you but there are companies who will consider me an asset in their company. I might even own a company that is more establed than yours.

Not to sound oppressive or put you in the kitchen but, you do sound like the typical pseudo scientist that think “feelings” veto plain facts and rational thought.

And I am not sure if you want education but you clearly can do with some education. Please start with some basic scientific method of statistical significance not pseudo scientific “I feel oppressed” and deprived by some imaginary force for I am with a vagina..

Read up on the WHY most women even today do prefer to stay at home if given the choice,read Science “Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality” . And I you cant or do not want to make a clear conclusion from it you are doomed.

So do not generalize for all womnen, you might well be some odd ball on the fringe of the spectrum with traits who would want to go to war and sacrifice a life for greater good then good for you!

If you look at the number of investors, traders, directors, owners, lawyers, shareholders, democrats, republicans, presidents, scientists, accountants, inventors etc it is mostly men because they are highly qualified with years of experience. These are years and years of knowledge passed on from one man to the other.

This matter is similar to apartheid, black women and men continue to suffer because they were denied access to information, resources, technology, etc.They don’t have trust funds or investments that they can purchase land or further their studies with. In other words, they literally have nothing. If you look at the lives of white people in South Africa. It is obvious that they have easier access to education, information and resources that black people don’t have at this age and time because apartheid gave them have the upper hand.


Your observations are circumstantial and you miss out on real reasons for what you describe. More tha 90% of work related deaths are men, more men in jail than women,..blah blah blah

Look at science for answers not subjective feelings, correlations or odd observations.

Read article in Science 2018 “Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality”

And if you can not give some scientific reasoning and debate this then you are a pseudo scientist selling snake oil with no place in the real decision making world.

“Years and years of knowledge passed on from one man to another”. Haha! there is no closed circle of knowledge only meant for men. Woman are allowed at all university courses, probably get admitted because of their gender. What happened 50 years ago is irrelevant. There are equal opportunities today, in fact due to gender targets woman has way more opportunities today. The same situation for black people. You generalize that whites have easier access to resources. However, there are many dirt poor whites and many stinking rich blacks. BEE gave many blacks the upper hand for the past 25 years, many black billionaires still get preferential treatment! I agree poor people have less resources and opportunities but not all poor people are black. Given the same income level, there are more opportunities today for blacks and woman, yet the outcome remains in favor of white men. Only the very rich can pass wealth through trust funds. middle class starts with a clean slate.

What happened 50 years ago is not irrelevant because if it was, me and you wouldn’t be having this conversation about gender gap and how historical events have an impact on on the economy. If I had the time, I would provide you with links that indicate the high number of unemployment amongst black people, the amount property or any form of asset that is owned by white people in South Africa. You are simply speaking from privilege and I understand because I am also privileged but choose to understand the challenges that people are currently facing. The number of black owners, shareholders, investors etc is few compared to the number of white people who are owners, shareholders, investors, executives, directors etc.

Some women can do some jobs almost as well as men.

But for the most part, women are car guards.

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