While it is encouraging to note an improvement in the ratio of women who are positioned at executive level in the boardrooms of companies, there is still much work to be done to reinforce gender equality in business, writes Nolitha Tsengiwe, consultant at the Centre for Conscious Leadership (CCL).
The introduction of compliance and corporate governance legislation has forced corporate South Africa to take a more stringent, more serious approach to human resource issues.
Equality based on race and gender ranks high on the list of priorities. In terms of the latter, it would be fair to say that many companies – across various sectors and industries – are realizing the inherent qualities of women in leadership roles.
For example, women possess a higher level of intuition that makes them invaluable, especially within a decision-making process. Female leaders are not shy to use their sense of intuition to help guide the institution or business.
In most cases women also demonstrate an amazing ability to multi-task, enabling them to handle multiple responsibilities. This obviously represents an important asset in any business.
By nature women are generally more adept within social or group situations. This gives them an edge over male counterparts in terms of ‘reading’ body language, picking up nuances in conversation or information sharing opportunities.
Another key strength of having women in positions of authority in a business is that they usually consider external factors that may be affecting the employee. There is a natural inclination to make allowance for- or, at least, give forethought to practical issues that may impact on productivity.
Factors like family life, direction of the individual, pressures and/ or responsibilities outside the office are brought into dialogue and discussion. This will help place employees at ease, mindful of the fact that their circumstances is being taken into consideration.
While there are certainly no grounds to suggest that women are not as competitive as men in terms of career development and opportunities to progress, women try to avoid the common egocentricity trap.
Leadership in business is evaluated on style and results, and, more often than not, the two are synonymous. Women tend to adopt a coaching leadership style, one based on individual development and orientation, direct assistance and interaction to enhance skills.
A leader is someone who leads by example, who demonstrates an inner strength that translates into immediate value in the workplace.
The value of women in leadership roles in business is that they have a natural ability to deal with a range of issues and are powerful in network situations.
The regulation of gender equality in the formal business environment, particularly at decision-making level, is an ongoing issue but one that continues to be addressed through recognition of the value of women as leaders in enterprise.
Essentially the message that we would like to get across is that a business is significantly weakened without fair representation of women in the organisation.