CAPE TOWN – Corporate South Africa needs to pay more attention to increasing the number of women at leadership level, as global focus on gender equality and awareness around the gender pay gap gains momentum, a report by professional services company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said. 

In the 11th edition of its “Executive directors: practices and remuneration trends” report, PwC said there was consensus regarding the need to transform boards and companies to bridge salary discrepancies, both from a representational perspective and in terms of pay.

There is also a need for more diverse representation on boards in South Africa, said the 
report, released ahead of the annual Women’s Day public holiday tomorrow. 

The entire month of August is observed as Women’s Month in South Africa as a tribute to more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings government precinct in the capital Pretoria on August 9, 1956, in protest against the extension of racially discriminatory pass laws. 

“Women’s Month serves as a reminder of the urgency for closing gender imbalances in the workplace throughout South Africa,” said Anastacia Tshesane, diversity and inclusion leader for PwC Southern Africa. 

“Achieving gender parity throughout the workplace is one of the most crucial challenges that business leaders face today. The quality of women’s talent and leadership is very important to business – the skills and experience that they bring, including those gained outside of the workplace, has proved to be essential in strategic decision-making and ethical, sustainable enterprise.” 

Citing worldwide research, the PwC report said that companies that effectively use female talent are 45 percent more likely to report improved market share. 

It also cites research from the World Economic Forum (WEF), suggesting that the overall global gender gap will close in 108 years, and that the most challenging gender gaps to close are the economic and political empowerment dimensions, which will take 202 and 107 years respectively to close. 

Currently in South Africa, for every 10 men, only eight women are employed or actively looking for work, although women make up more than half of the working-age population. 

In its 2018 gender pay gap report, the WEF ranked South Africa 19th overall in terms of gender-gap equality, with a slight decline in gender-wage equality where it was ranked 117th compared with 114th in 2017. 

“Despite the broad acknowledgement that gender and diversity concerns should be addressed, there is a lack of clarity as to what steps should be taken to effect lasting change,” PwC senior manager for the people and organisation division Anelisa Keke said. 

“Bridging the gender pay gap has been a slow process, but by enabling women to succeed in the market place, society can reap the benefits of women’s talents and skills.”

African News Agency (ANA)