Are SA women not leadership material?

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Are SA women not leadership material?


A recent research report by Grant Thornton revealed that South African businesses are reversing the gains made in improving gender progression in the workplace with the percentage of women in leadership roles decreasing from 27% to 23% in 2017. The research, which was conducted on 200 businesses around the country, also found that 39% of the businesses surveyed actually had no women in senior management positions.

With the deep pool of untapped female leadership talent available, it’s in the interest of Milpark Business School (MBS) to help women rise in their ranks. MBS is aiding the advancement of women leaders is by offering the Women in Leadership qualification both via Contact Learning and Distance Learning Online.

The qualification aims to equip women with the prerequisite skills to function effectively in the working world. MBS has recognised that women need to play an increasingly strategic role in business within South Africa and globally. MBS’ Dr Jane Usher says: “We have designed this course to empower women to take the initiative and proactively manage their careers and to meaningfully improve the diversity of organisations throughout SA. The world of work is changing on a continual basis and a different type of leadership is required to lead effectively in this era.”

The report revealed that while there may be many reasons why women don’t apply for more senior positions in their workplaces, it is hard for them to succeed professionally in a society that is largely traditional and patriarchal. A 2015 Statistics South Africa report revealed that the majority of South African households are run by single mothers and are faced with financial stress and they have to juggle their professional careers.

Dr Usher says the programme is important because it empowers women and offers them the skills they need to use to overcome the challenges they encounter in their careers. “It helps to give them personal insight and from there, they are able to improve their interpersonal and professional skills. There’s a need to improve diversity in businesses and in senior leadership areas globally and this is seen as smart business because women bring a variety of perspectives and insights to organisations, which aids in promoting creativity and innovation,” she explains.

A study conducted by nonprofit group, Peterson Institute for International Economics and global auditing firm, EY found that among 21980 listed firms in 91 countries, a 30% female leadership added up to six percentage-points to its net profit, compared to those that have none. The research demonstrates that while increasing the number of women directors and CEOs is important, growing the percentage of female leaders in the C-suite would likely benefit the company’s bottom line even more.


The Women in Leadership course explores the concept of leadership today, which is evolving from control to empowerment, competition to collaboration, uniformity to diversity, and towards a higher ethical purpose. Specific challenges faced by women in leadership are addressed from definition to emotional well-being. The course, offered by the Milpark Business School is offered online for a 4-week period or two days via Contact Learning. 

29 Jun 2017