Boardroom challenges that can make success difficult

The scarcity of women in company boards and executive positions has been a top topic for years, with some believing that women are not good leaders.

The scarcity of women in company boards and executive positions has been a top topic for years, with some believing that women are not good leaders.

While the government has formulated policies to accelerate the progression of women in all spheres, black women executives still remain a minority.

Executive head-hunter Lumka Funani says this has been fuelled by a perception that most women fail in top positions.

"The truth is not all women fail in executive positions but this might reflect as such because of a few women in upper echelons of organisations" says Funani.

"Some women fail, just like some men fail, but their failure is pronounced because there are few women in management positions."

She says the reasons are varied why some women in these positions fail.

"Some women fail because they either take more than they can work on because they are trying to prove that women can cope as well, or they are scared to ask for help in case they appear not to be coping or appear weak, no support structures at work and/or poor family support. Also the world expects women to fail and some do," says Funani.

She says pushing one's strong point in board or executive meetings might be intimidating if one is the only woman among old and experienced black and white men.

"One has to be assertive and aggressive but that confidence comes with prior preparation and preparing beyond expectation," she says.

Funani says when tasked with finding an executive woman candidate, she often has to see quite a lot of women and dig deeper to get a woman that meets the criteria set out by a client.

She says acquiring knowledge goes a long way in preparing women for top positions.

"Knowledge is power, it gives you the confidence to argue your point until it is heard. But to gather that information and knowledge comes with some sacrifices, such as parting with money for your own growth and development," says Funani.

She adds that difficulties in accessing networking platforms where serious issues are discussed (such as the boy's club), where for instance deep financial issues are discussed, also limits women's chances of getting some knowledge.

She says while women have their own clubs, they don't go deep into issues as men do.

"Issues of the heart sometimes creep in. In all our attempts, we do want to remain women, an advantage of which is the ability to multi-skill but there's a great need for us women to triple our efforts and outperform ourselves."

X