Female CEO positions herself as the top champion for Diversity and Inclusion Efforts
It’s been about 50 years since the mass arrival of women into the corporate workforce and the first equal pay laws were passed, and 20 years since companies designed the first gender diversity plans, but women continue to be largely underrepresented at all workforce levels globally.
While the 2018 Grant Thornton Women in Business Report reports that South Africa hit a new high of 80% of businesses with at least one woman in senior management and the highest proportion of senior roles held by women in a decade at 29%, or close to one third, it also said that one in five local businesses (20%) still have no women at all in senior positions. Another statistic puts this figure at 31%.
The latest Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) census on women in leadership further indicates that 22% of board directors are women, but only 7% are executive directors and only 10% of South African CEOs are women. The track record for having non-white female leaders is even more pitiful.
There is broad agreement that diverse and inclusive workplaces are a good thing. These environments value all employees’ contributions and reflect the demographic characteristics of the available labor force. On the other hand, there is a recognition that women entrepreneurs are the new engines for inclusive and sustainable industrial growth, and are the rising stars of economies in developing countries.
Diversity and inclusion seems to be the buzz words these days, with more businesses than ever pledging to take action. But what does it really mean, though, to “promote diversity and inclusion”? Hire a diverse staff? Generate diverse leads? Maintain a diverse supply chain?
Surgo South Africa is determined to help rewrite the narrative and has made inspiring strides in ensuring they meet the diverse needs within their teams, ultimately setting an example of upfront and ongoing effort.
In fact, Surgo’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity extends far beyond the teams it has, its trailblazing impact have the power to permeate to the future of other companies and those who aspire to create similar work cultures—hopefully leading to a more diverse and inclusive world as a whole.
“Diversity and Inclusion is far more than an “HR issue.” It should be a core ingredient in the design and execution of business strategy and embedded in the activities of the organization day in, day out, says Rudé Alley, Managing Director at Surgo
Rudé Alley has taken a public stance, embedded diversity and inclusion in the organization’s purpose, and taken the responsibility for progress toward goals. Surgo employs 202 people, of which 142 are female and 60 are male. Of the female employees, 3% are Indians, 82% Africans, 11% coloured and 4% are Whites.
Leadership is paramount to develop and foster an inclusive culture for any organisation and broader society. Some important aspects are the character of the leader, their level of self- and social awareness, social skills and their personal beliefs and values, which affect their willingness and ability to create and fully embody true inclusion.
Make no mistake. There are clear benefits to having organisations that reflect and embrace diversity. Organisations that are more equal and more integrated – across backgrounds, ages, experience levels, gender, race and income – perform better, on average, than others.
“As South African companies, we must build environments in which women can thrive and we are able to tap into the full potential of diversity”, concludes Rudé.