Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Few women break the CEO finish tape

Over a century since Anna Bissell, the first woman to become a CEO in America, broke into the male-dominated business field, Africa today only has five percent of women who make it to CEO positions. 

This is a finding from a recent report by McKinsey & Company titled Women matter Africa released in August 2016 which details that even with Africa having more women at the top than the world average, a far less number arrives at the CEO seat. 

The short end of this finding is the alarming fact that 95 percent of CEOs in Africa are men. The figures seem to be a refutation to the widely reported progress in achieving gender parity.

“Numbers do not necessarily equal influence,” cites the report, which was presented by Tania Holt, Partner at McKinsey & Company at the inaugural De Beers W Summit last week Thursday.  Holt posited that “if we don’t change the trajectory, it will take another 20 to 25 years until we achieve gender parity. We have to do over and above what is currently being done”.

 “In the private sector, most women managers hold staff roles rather than the line roles that offer more exposure to decision-making forums, core operations and promotion to CEO positions,” cites the report. 

It specifically cites that 56 percent of female senior managers hold staff roles in the companies that were surveyed.    

Providing insight to issues of financing particularly in relation to women, Sari Nikka, Chief Financial Officer of Narsad Finance Limited espoused her hardline view that women should not be expected to be treated differently when accessing finance as all applicants are subjected to the same requirements based on the standard rules of the game. 

“We can’t require different treatment because we require equal treatment,” she said. Nikka pointed out that the reality that there are less women entrepreneurs getting finance in comparison to men, adding that there is a difference between men and women in terms of willingness to take risk and eagerness exuded when making a loan application. 
She suggested that to embolden women the management pipeline has to lengthen to as early as childhood.  

 Pedzani Tafa, Head of Retail Banking at Standard Chartered, also shared the view of financing from a bank’s perspective. Tafa told the audience that she was the first woman to hold the position at the bank. She also echoed the observation that women do not express the same passion and conviction that men have in their approach to requesting for finance. Tafa expounded on the strict condition, which Standard Chartered as a commercial bank adheres to by relying on the business’ track record to ascertain if funding can be granted. 
She mentioned that in filling the gap, the bank partners with organisations such as Women Finance House had to assist different groups of women in accessing financing. “Risk appetite for new ventures is limited,” she said. 

Dr. Anna Mokgokong, Co-Founder and Chairperson at Community Investment Holdings and recipient of South Africa’s Business Woman of the Year Award, advised women to ignite the spirit of collaboration so as to extend the reach of development and growth.    

The 2016 De Beers W Summit was coined to offer women in business and strategic leadership insights on engaging and collaborating so as to build prosperity. It was motivated by the celebration of Botswana’s 50th Anniversary and international Women’s Month.



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