Number of women in top jobs at companies shrinks

CONCERNED: Sandra Burmeister. Pic. Russell Roberts. 03/03/2008. © Financial Mail.
CONCERNED: Sandra Burmeister. Pic. Russell Roberts. 03/03/2008. © Financial Mail.

AFTER a flurry of activity earlier this decade, women's progress on the boards of South African listed companies has slowed dramatically, according to South Africa's first black-owned and women-owned executive search company Landelahni Recruitment Group.

AFTER a flurry of activity earlier this decade, women's progress on the boards of South African listed companies has slowed dramatically, according to South Africa's first black-owned and women-owned executive search company Landelahni Recruitment Group.

Landelahni chief executive Sandra Burmeister said yesterday: "At the current minuscule rate of change it will take women well into the next century to reach parity with men, if they ever achieve it at all."

The recent Business Women's Association Women in Leadership Census indicates that between 2007 and 2008 the number of women chief executives of listed companies and the major state-owned entities decreased from 3,9percent to 3,6percent, while female chairpersons increased from 3,9percent to 5,8percent.

Female directorships showed a marginal increase from 14,3percent to 14,6percent

"Of particular concern in the face of the dire need for the country to harness its resources to weather the recession is the fact that the number of women executive managers decreased from 25,3percent to 18,6percent," Burmeister said.

"This means that the pool of women from whom directors can be drawn is shrinking.

"This slowdown follows substantial progress of women in senior positions on a wave of black economic empowerment and employment equity initiatives in the early years of the decade, she added.

Internationally, progress has also been slow.

The US leads at 15,2percent (Fortune 500) women directors, followed by South Africa at 14,6percent (JSE/AltX/SOE) and Canada at 13percent (FP500), with the UK lagging at 8,5percent (FTSE 350) and Australia at 8,3percent (ASX200).

In South Africa, 336 out of 425 women hold one directorship, and only 32 hold three or more, giving the lie to the commonly held belief that boardroom power is concentrated in only a few hands. - I-Net Bridge

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