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THE FINANCIAL and operational performance of South Africa’s second-biggest gold producer, Sibanye Gold, is beating market expectations since it debuted on the JSE last year. But the absence of women on its executive management team leaves a lot to be desired.
At the interim results presentation led by the chief executive, Neal Froneman, it was evident that the company has a long way to ensure proper gender representation on its board. Froneman had asked his executive, mainly white men, to be seated on the podium with him at the event held at the bourse yesterday so they could field questions from the floor. The lack of women says a lot about the gold industry, which has largely remained a boys-only club since the metal was discovered 100 years ago.
AngloGold Ashanti, the country’s biggest gold producer, has a handful of women in its executive. The chairwoman of Gold Fields, the company which unbundled Sibanye last year, is Cheryl Carolus, but their board is also mainly men.
A report by PwC released in April, titled “Mining for talent 2014”, found that women make up 23.8 percent of the boards of South African members of the top 100 listed mining companies, and 21.4 percent of those in the top 500.
There is no doubt men bring a wealth of experience and much-needed technical knowledge, and given a chance women can also contribute meaningfully.
This was the case in a PWC report that found a correlation between having more female managers and directors with improvements in areas such as governance, social and environmental performance as well as financial returns.
As August, or Women’s Month, begins there needs to be greater awareness of gender issues.
“We all fight for the share of the stomach,” said Spur Corporation’s chief executive Pierre van Tonder. Despite this statement, he conceded that the stomach all food service business is after was not in a good space.
Van Tonder said it was no secret that consumers were under strain, but people still have a need to go out and dine. This is when businesses in this sector have to position themselves by offering value to make sure that people come inside and eat.
Yesterday’s black economic empowerment (BEE) deal between Spur and Grand Parade Investment (GPI) marked an important development in relation to BEE in the sector.
Just like retailers, food services companies have been criticised about being “too slow” in finding BBE partners.
GPI’s chief executive Alan Keet said although there is a lot confusion that exists in the market about what the company was about, especially with the licence agreement with Burger King, “our core business is investment and we are a 50 percent black-owned company,” he said.
Even Van Tonder said there was misconception that empowerment has limited impact on our industry, “but we are seeing a growing need for a strong empowerment scorecard and meaningful transformation”, he said.
Last year, Spur appointed an executive to manage the group’s transformation journey, highlighting its commitment to sustainable empowerment. He said this transaction was more than boosting Spur’s BEE rating, adding that the company has found a great long-term partner in GPI with similar ambitions.
Both companies are ambitious about their growth trajectory in the food service sector, especially in countries outside South Africa, with Spur presenting a resilient operation model, proven over time and through difficult trading conditions.
And besides the new partnership, both companies will still need to fight for the share of the stomach. page 17
Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Dineo Faku and Nompumelelo Magwaza.