Listed Boards in South Africa remain unbalanced

By BossJansen Executive Search Time of article published Apr 16, 2019

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BossJansen Executive Search, leaders in Non-Executive Director and C-Suite sourcing, has undertaken extensive research to get a better view of exactly how the listed companies on the JSE Boards are made up.

At a glance, the research shows that there are 385 listed companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and Alternate Exchange (Altx), with a total of 2566 Board members making up these active Boards.  

These 2566 Board members are divided into 1632 Non-Executive or Independent Directors and 934 Executive Directors (CEO, CFO, COO etc) from the listed companies. This gives the split between Non-Executives and Executives, as 63.60% to 36.40%, showing a healthy level of independence across the Boards listed on the JSE.

In terms of employment equity demographics, there is a total of 854 equity individuals currently sitting on JSE boards with 18.66% being equity males and 14.61% being equity females, giving a total of 33.28% for all equity executives operating on SA’s listed entities. This shows that the majority of South Africa’s listed Boards are still very under-represented pertaining to equity Board talent, in particular when it comes to female equity talent.

When we delved a bit further into the various JSE Boards it became apparent that there are a  around 14% of the total JSE Board members who have more than one Board appointment. The total number of these individuals who hold more than one Board position is 359, with 115 of these individuals sitting on 3 or more Boards.  

The demographic make-up of these ‘multiple Board sitters’ is made up as follows; 51.53% white male, 25.07% equity female, 18.94% equity male and 4.53% white female, showing credence to the statement of “the same of old faces on the same old Boards” which has been a problem on SA Boards for some time now.  

The most desirable qualification for any potential new Board member is that of a Chartered Accountant, where there is a particularly strong demand in the market for female equity talent to take up positions on companies audit committees.  

The main issue that was highlighted from our research is that there is not enough opportunity for new young Non-Executive talent to gain exposure to the workings of listed companies Boards. South Africa’s listed companies need to take responsibility for growing new talent, particularly equity talent, to ensure that a new breed of Non-Executive is afforded an opportunity to showcase their skills in this environment.  

BossJansen’s research further discovered that many young potential Non-Executive Directors would even look at taking up a Board role without any remuneration, simply to add to their skill sets and to gain experience.

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