Empowering women causes a powerful positive change in society and the economy.
This is according to Sibonile Dube, head of communications and public affairs at Novartis South Africa. Dube is also a mentor at Phakama Women’s Academy.
Dube refers to research into the differences between the careers of men and women. Data show that 31% of South African companies have no women represented in senior leadership positions.
The census ran by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa discovered that 22% of board directors and only 7% of executive directors were women.
Women made up only 10% of South African CEOs and just 2,2% of JSE-listed company CEOs.
“South African enterprises need to be more proactive about empowering women in the workplace.”
Dube also said that while formalised mentorship programmes are important, women are also key to their success. She gave three factors that stop women succeeding.
Lack of confidence
“We women often let ourselves be introverted and avoid conflict but we underestimate our potential. In contrast, men are usually encouraged to be confident in themselves and their abilities.
“Dealing with your fears is important because it’s easier to let our fears make our decisions.
“By developing your confidence you create and manage your own relevance and meaningful contributions to the workplace.”
Lack of support
“Without a support network, women will not cope well through challenging times, or learn of available opportunities.
“Having a strong network of people that help you or mentor you, and watch out for you and your career are critical for your success.”
Poor health and wellbeing
Before they can thrive in the workplace, women need to put their health first.
It’s easy to put your friends and family first when you’re working hard but we humans are all fragile creatures.
“Women are under terrible stress to have fabulous careers, be fantastic mothers and have amazing marriages but this is a poisonous idea.
“This stress grinds at us so, unless we socialise with our family and friends, take regular holidays away from work and monitor our bodies, the grinding stress will sooner or later will break us.”