Sirdar Group head of Appoint Beverley Hancock. PHOTO: Sirdar website

JOHANNESBURG - Despite research confirming the positive correlation between the presence of women in corporate leadership and company performance, they remain grossly underrepresented at the executive level in South African firms, human resources company Sirdar said on Thursday.

Sirdar's services including educating, appointing and guiding high-performance boards for privately-held and family businesses.

In remarks made on the eve of Women's Day in South Africa, the head of its "Appoint" division Beverley Hancock said 31 percent of South African companies did not have any female representation in senior leadership roles. 

Hancock said a survey on non-executive and independent directors’ fees, performance and diversity for privately-held and family businesses done by Sirdar in 2018 indicated that 72.1 percent of the boards surveyed had at least one woman while 21.8 percent of the total number of directors of the boards surveyed were women.

"There is an increasing awareness of the power of a gender diverse team. We have seen a marked increase in opportunities for women in non-executive director roles but there remains a long way to go as women remain under-represented at executive level," she said.

"Certainly not all company and board cultures are proactive in their approach to driving gender diversity and in understanding the benefits and value from having a diverse team or board."

Hancock's comments came a day after a report by professional services company PwC similarly urged corporate South Africa 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.

- African News Agency (ANA)