Research News

USB report unpacks how to improve women’s representation on corporate boards

USB News

USB report unpacks how to improve women’s representation on corporate boards

  • MAR 03
  • Tags Women on Boards, Gender Diversity, Female Representation, Anita Bosch, Corporate Governance, JSE, Business Women’s Association of South Africa

SHARE

Diversity in the boardroom makes for more effective and informed decision-making, corporate strategy and governance – but while half of the South African population and 45% of the employed workforce are female, only 20% of directors of JSE-listed companies are women.

Corporate boards are failing to take advantage of the value of female business leaders’ diverse perspectives and networks, despite a “vast, untapped pool of qualified and capable women”, says the newly-released report Women on South African boards: facts, fiction and forward thinking by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).

“According to the [Business Women’s Association of South Africa] BWASA Women in Leadership Census, from 2012 to 2017, only 26 JSE-listed companies consistently had a 25%+ female board, while approximately 45 of the 277 companies had no female directors at all, the report’s lead author Prof Anita Bosch, the USB Research Chair for Women at Work, said.

Corporate boards are failing to take advantage of the value of female business leaders’ diverse perspectives and networks, despite a ‘vast, untapped pool of qualified and capable women’.

“The pool of talented women suitable for board directorships is steadily increasing and gains have been made, but they are too erratic and too small to correct the gender imbalance,” she said.

The report recommends a voluntary target of 30% female board members as “reasonable and feasible”, with 40% as a stretch target.

South Africa has no legislation specifically requiring companies to include women on their boards of directors, and indirect measures – such as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listing requirements – are limited in scope, relevance, impact and enforceability, the report found.

“For instance, there have been no consequences for JSE-listed companies that have not complied with listing requirements related to the advancement of gender diversity at board level,” she said.

There have been no consequences for JSE-listed companies that have not complied with listing requirements related to the advancement of gender diversity at board level.

Contrary to popular belief, Prof Bosch said, there are more than enough talented women to serve on boards – “directors just need to look outside their normal, comfortable networks to find them”.

The report’s publication, sponsored by WDB Investment Holdings (WDBIH) – the women-owned and -operated group focused on advancing the meaningful participation of women in the economy – explores what is needed to strengthen women’s representation on boards and “what it takes for women directors to gain the power, influence and critical mass to be able to effect change”.

Contrary to popular belief, Prof Bosch said, there are more than enough talented women to serve on boards.

Voluntary targets, improved monitoring and reporting, enforcement and consequences for non-compliance, establishing shadow boards to grow the next generation of female directors, and lobbying, are among the recommendations of the report.

“In SA we can only do voluntary targets since quotas are regarded as unconstitutional. Voluntary targets, however, can be just as effective as quota systems. The trick lies in the enforcement of voluntary targets and penalties, even if only through social pressure, which could be associated with non-compliance to own targets.”

The lack of women in senior management is evident from BWASA statistics:  from the almost 600 female board members of JSE-listed companies in 2017, over 80% were non-executive directors.

Addressing the gender imbalance in the top tier of business leadership in South Africa will take strategic and concerted efforts by companies, directors, shareholder activists and institutional investors, she said.

The lack of women in senior management is evident from BWASA statistics: from the almost 600 female board members of JSE-listed companies in 2017, over 80% were non-executive directors.

“Indirect measures to encourage gender diversity on boards” include the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act and codes of good practice, the Employment Equity Act, the King IV Report on Corporate Governance (application of these codes is voluntary except for JSE listed companies), and stock exchange listing requirements.

Co-author, Prof Kathleen van der Linde said, “these are all limited in scope, relevance, impact and enforceability”. And meanwhile, the 2013 Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, which provided for equal representation of women on the boards of public and designated private bodies, was withdrawn for further consultation in 2014 and “appears to have since been abandoned”.

The recommendations in brief

For companies

Prof Bosch said companies could play an active role in “effecting change from within” by identifying, training and promoting high-potential female employees and candidates to board positions – for example by:

  • Closing the gender wage gap between male and female, signalling to women that they are valued equally for their contribution.
  • Prioritising the search for female candidates for senior management and board positions. It all starts with the existing board members.
  • Looking outside of traditional networks and exploring avenues such as academia, professional bodies, government and non-profit organisations for new, female talent.
  • In the medium-term, sponsoring emerging talent in women senior managers to prepare them for future board positions.
  • Developing a “shadow board” where prospective future directors can shadow and learn about board protocol from existing board members.

Prof Bosch said companies could play an active role in ‘effecting change from within’ by identifying, training and promoting high-potential female employees and candidates to board positions.

For existing board members

The report recommends that current board members play a part in developing the next generation of women board members by:

  • Supporting initiatives such as shadow boards; and vouching for women in senior management to open up opportunities and prepare them for future board roles.
  • Using directorships in non-profits, unlisted companies and larger private companies to grow the pool of experienced women from which listed companies can make board appointments.
  • Supporting female executive directors to take on independent and non-executive directorships to gain experience.
  • Implementing family and other support mechanisms to enhance the opportunity for women in their child-bearing and -rearing years to serve on boards.
  • Engaging in questions of what the board is doing and what more could be done; and supporting research on board gender diversity in order to stimulate debate and critical conversation.

For shareholder activists

“Shareholder activists have the power to encourage change through applying pressure to regulatory and industry bodies, and within companies themselves,” Prof Bosch said.

She said recommended actions included:

  • Lobbying for more accurate reporting, such as the movement for the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) to report on board gender diversity and for licenced exchanges to enforce listing requirements on gender, age and race reporting.
  • Nominating strong women directors to the boards of companies they hold shares in, especially where a woman director is performing well on one company board and could add value to another company in which they hold shares.
  • Using their public voice, such as in the media, to stimulate public debate on board diversity.

‘Shareholder activists have the power to encourage change through applying pressure to regulatory and industry bodies, and within companies themselves,’ Prof Bosch said.

For institutional investors

Large institutional investors have a duty to look after the long-term value of investments made on behalf of their investors, and economic, social and governance considerations are interlinked with the long-term sustainability of a company. These institutions can use their voting and lobbying power to shape company strategy and influence the composition of boards, Prof Bosch said, by:

  • Encouraging the appointment of at least one additional woman to the boards of companies they invest in.
  • Giving preference to investing in companies that are making progress towards gender-balanced boards.
  • Making their votes count with a coordinated voting policy that prioritises gender diversity when voting on new board members.

On targets, monitoring and reporting

Since one in three listed companies already have at least 25% women directors according to the BWASA Women in Leadership Census, the report recommends a voluntary target of 30% for listed companies as “reasonable and feasible”, with 40% as a stretch target.

And, she said, since most board decisions are actually taken at committee level, listed companies should set specific targets for women directors’ representation on board committees and as committee chairs. They should also be required to show gender parity in nominations for board members and to document the reasons for selections to the short-list stage.

In terms of reporting, the report recommends that the Institute of Directors-South Africa (IoDSA) facilitate the enhancement of recommended practices in King IV by setting a voluntary target for gender diversity at board level, thus ensuring JSE-listed companies must report on their progress.

Prof Bosch said various government departments and agencies, as well as the IoDSA and listed exchanges, could play a role in monitoring progress and enforcing compliance.

The regular reporting mechanisms of organisations such as the Business Women’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) and the Institute of Direstors South Africa (IoDSA) should be used to keep board diversity on the national agenda.

The regular reporting mechanisms of organisations such as the Business Women’s Association of South Africa (BWASA, whose 2017 Women in Leadership Census provided much of the data for the USB report) and the IoDSA should be used to keep board diversity on the national agenda. Reporting information from the JSE and other stock exchanges could be used to produce lists of companies meeting, exceeding or not achieving gender targets, and to develop a national progress-monitoring index.

SHARE with your director

About the report

Women on South African boards: facts, fiction and forward thinking is a publication of the Research Chair: Women at Work, at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, the publication of which was sponsored by WDB Investment Holdings (WDBIH) and published in March 2020 on the USB Management Review platform.

Prof Anita Bosch, USB Research Chair: Women at Work

Prof Kathleen van der Linde, Professor of Mercantile Law, University of Johannesburg

Shimon Barit, USB Research Fellow

Join the USB Management Review community

Subscribe to receive an email alert for new content on USB Management Review.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Join the USB community

Receive updates on the latest news, events, business knowledge and blogs at USB.

SUBSCRIBE NOW


In week USB

in-week @USB

18 – 22 November 2019

industry | insights | innovation | intellect | inspiration | inclusivity

Let’s think. Let’s connect. Let’s work.

industry | insights | innovation | intellect | inspiration | inclusivity

At USB, we go to great lengths to ensure that our research is accurate, relevant, and accessible and based on sound business practices. That’s why, from 18 – 22 November, we celebrate our research through a number of engaging events and activities on our campus in collaboration with industry representatives visiting USB throughout the week.

Research Events

Step into the Lion’s Den

20 November 2019 | 14:00 – 18:00 | USB campus

Lion’s Den, was created in 2018 to connect the impressive network of entrepreneurs and organisations surrounding USB. Lion’s Den is where USB students and alumni get the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors. The pitching segment at the event provides incredible insight into the pitch structure and what investors look for. Prizes are valued between R15 000 – R100 000. If you are interested in entrepreneurship, this event is for you.

RSVP NOW
MORE INFO

Let’s engage at USB’s Research Meets Industry

22 November 2019 | 10:30 – 14:00 | USB campus

Our annual Research Meets Industry (RMI) engagement is one of the most anticipated events on our calendar and a major highlight of the MBA. It is the ideal opportunity to build industry contacts and scout talent that can solve relevant business problems.

RMI puts our elite selection of top MBA students on the center stage, where they will present their USB-approved scientific research. Each presentation is organised according to a theme, with streams ranging from innovative new technological challenges and cutting-edge research in marketing to some of the latest insights from the Leadership domain. Look out for the exciting programme – coming soon.

RSVP NOWprogramme

USB Leader’s Angle: Creating futures by solving unemployment

22 November 2019 | 07:30 – 10:00 | USB campus

Unemployment in South Africa is the worst it’s been since 2008. At this Leader’s Angle discussion our panel of thought leaders explore the possibilities for solving our country’s complex unemployment problem. Our distinguished speakers include South African trade unionist Tony Ehrenreich, and renowned entrepreneur Miles Khubeka.

RSVP NOW

“Nothing is as practical as a good theory” – Kurt Lewin, German-American psychologist

#USBInWeek presents

20 November 2019

22 November 2019

22 November 2019

Access our research

InWeek News

What to expect from SA’s banking sector towards 2035

In comparison to 2018 the South African banking industry landscape will look vastly different towards 2035. South Africa’s banking will be characterised by digital banking solutions unimaginable today due to the continued influence of key factors and trends in future.

Read More

Your office toilet uses 90% of your company’s water

The humble office toilet could hold the key to cutting companies’ water bills, lightening the load on municipalities’ strained water infrastructure and reducing demand for water in water-scarce South Africa. The 30th driest country in the world, 98% of South Africa’s water resources are already allocated, and lower than average rainfall together with increasing demand has placed the country in a serious water crisis.

Read more

Join the USB Management Review community

Subscribe to receive an email alert for new content on USB Management Review.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Join the USB community

Receive updates on the latest news, events, business knowledge and blogs at USB.

SUBSCRIBE NOW


Research Methods Workshop

USB News

Research Methods Workshop

Workshop on Research Methods, Co-Organized by: African Centre for Development Finance at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB-ACDF) with Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, Sonoco International Business Department, U.S.A.

The Objective of the workshop:
A common obstacle to these outcomes for all scholars is limited experience in sourcing, preparing, and analysing high quality data. This workshop will combine instructive tutorials with hands-on experience in writing code in statistical analysis packages (e.g. STATA, R, etc.). Participants are encouraged (but not necessarily required) to bring datasets they are already working with and through the workshop develop code capable of helping them execute their analysis.

What the course will cover:
The course will focus on presenting a cutting edge research methods tailored to high impact African context through a hands-on, intensive one-week curriculum covering the following topics: Collecting high quality data in an environment where publicly available data is often unavailable or unreliable, Cleaning and preparing data for analysis, Conducting analysis through econometric models and descriptive statistics, Presenting results and developing a personalized library of software code useful to all of the above.

Who should attend:
Postgraduate, Master’s and Doctoral Candidates, Post-Doctoral Fellows and current Doctoral fellows and other academics working in this domain will be given more priority.

Course provider:
African Centre for Development Finance at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB-ACDF) with Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, Sonoco International Business Department, U.S.A.

Prerequisite:
Participants are expected to have intermediate level microeconomic theory at the undergraduate level. Basic knowledge on mathematical economics, econometrics, linear programming and applications is desirable but not compulsory. STATA and R will be employed. Prior knowledge of at least one of the software will be an added advantage.

Course Material:
The course pack will be prepared and made available to participants during registration. The materials required for pre-course reading will be sent directly to the participants via email or via the course website.

Presenters

Dr Christopher B. Yenkey is an assistant professor in the Sonoco International Business Department at the Darla Moore School of International Business. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology at Cornell University, Yenkey served as a visiting scholar at the Institute for Economic Affairs in Nairobi, Kenya. Yenkey received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Texas, Austin, in 2001 and served as a research associate in the Department of Economic Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City from 2001 to 2003. He is an associate director of the Center for the Study of Economy and Society at Cornell University from 2010 to 2011.

Dr Nyankomo Marwa is senior lecturer in Development Finance and Econometrics at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, South Africa. He holds a PhD in Development Finance from the University of Stellenbosch Business School; an MSc Agricultural Economics from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA; an MSc Applied Statistics and Biostatistics from Hasselt University, Belgium; and a BSc Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness from Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania. He holds visiting research positions at the School of Management Sciences of the University of Quebec Montreal, Canada, and the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Registration Procedure

The workshop fee is $250 (R3 500) per participants.

Applications close 30 November 2018 for South African students only

For more details on logistics and other enquiries, please contact the International office:
international@usb.ac.za | +27 21 918 4196

SHARE

Join the USB community

Receive updates on the latest news, events, business knowledge and blogs at USB.

SUBSCRIBE NOW


USB Management review

USB launches new online business knowledge platform

USB News

USB launches new online business knowledge platform

  • USB
  • JUL 30 2018
  • Tags Research, Management Review

SHARE

The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) recently launched its new online platform, USB Management Review, which features business knowledge articles based on the research conducted by faculty, students, and research centres.

The platform also provides access to thought-provoking opinion pieces, topical reports, and valuable insight into the research process itself. The topics are aligned with USB’s key areas of expertise – leadership, finance, futures studies, coaching, and strategic management.

Prof Piet Naudé, director of USB, says: “Academic research is important but there is also a need for knowledge that could be applied directly (or at least quite smoothly) to actual business problems.

“This requires a translation of theory into practice; it requires a different genre than pure academic language to ensure wider accessibility. This is what USB Management Review is about.”

Editorial director of USB Management Review and head of research at USB , Prof Mias de Klerk, says with this online platform they want USB research to make an impact in the world of business. “The core focus of our first edition is leadership integrity. What happens within organisations is largely an outcome, or lack of, the integrity of leadership.

“Leadership integrity is one of many constructs that form part of responsible leadership, which is core to USB’s research focus. Responsible leadership describes a generic quality of all leadership that aims to respond to stakeholders’ concerns in a morally responsible manner,” he says.

USB Management Review will be published in June and October each year to ensure visibility among relevant interest and stakeholder groups. It can be accessed via the research tab from the USB homepage. To read the articles that appeared in the first edition, click here.

Join the USB community

Receive updates on the latest news, events, business knowledge and blogs at USB.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Join the USB community

Receive updates on the latest news, events, business knowledge and blogs at USB.

SUBSCRIBE NOW


One in four employees suffer from depression

USB News

One in four employees suffer from depression

  • MAY 23
  • Tags Mental health, Employees

SHARE

One in four employees has been diagnosed with depression, and the country’s economic contributors aged 25 to 44 are most affected, taking more than 18 days off work due to the condition. These are the findings from a recent study conducted by The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) in partnership with Hexor, with the support of Lundbeck.

Dr Renata Schoeman, leadership lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and psychiatrist, says more than 40% of all work-related illness is due to work-related stress, major depression, burnout and anxiety disorders.

“Undiagnosed and untreated mental health conditions directly impacts a workplace through increased absenteeism and presenteeism, reduces productivity and increases costs.”

Presenting at a Corporate Mental Health Awareness seminar at USB, she urged companies to realise the significance their company structure, expectations of employees and management style has on the company’s annual turn-over, overall productivity and the risk of employees developing health problems that could prevent them temporarily or permanently reentering the workforce.

She highlighted that the 2016 study revealed that non-disclosure of depression as a reason for sick leave was predominantly due to stigma and fear of not being able to secure their employment.

“Undiagnosed and untreated mental health conditions directly impacts a workplace through increased absenteeism and presenteeism (attending work while unwell), reduces productivity and increases costs. Most employers tend to completely underestimate the financial impact of mental illness on their bottom line.”

She says that depression costs South Africa more than R232 billion or 5.7% of the country’s GDP due to lost productivity either due to absence from work or attending work whilst unwell, according to the IDEA study of the London School of Economics and Political Science 2016.

“The cognitive symptoms of depression, such as difficulties in concentrating, making decisions and remembering, are present 94% of the time during an episode of depression. Since leaders find themselves in roles of decision-making and responsibility, they are more prone to presenteeism. They would be less able to cope with the demands of their position and as a leader their condition whilst at work would have a major impact on inter-office relationships, decision-making and their ability to manage their teams.

“It’s imperative that companies come to understand the leading role they play in alleviating and eradicating possible stressors at work. They should foster a healthy educational environment with pro-active mental health awareness programmes, stress management training, access to services which nurture help-seeking behaviour, implement a coaching or counseling programme, identify people in need of care and offer them resources to ensure they receive proper treatment. But most importantly they need to break the negative association with depression, burnout and anxiety.”

Dr Schoeman says that although policies and guidelines are necessary it alone will not make a difference but requires a supportive culture of understanding and acceptance.

“Stigma, born out of ignorance, prejudice or fear, is a major problem in the work place creating a situation where employees choose to rather suffer in silence. One can understand their reluctance to seek support or report their condition, especially in the current economic climate where they might fear losing their job. As a result mental health problems often go undiagnosed and untreated, not only to the detriment of the individual’s career and health but also directly impacting the workplace’s bottom line.”

She says mental health awareness in the work place will ensure early identification and treatment of disorders, prevent recurrence and long-term complications. By implementing employee assistance programmes the quality of life of employees and the longevity of the company will see a lesser loss to the country’s GDP and prevent disorders turning into permanent disability.

Find the perfect course for you

Join the USB community

Receive updates on the latest news, events, business knowledge and blogs at USB.

SUBSCRIBE NOW


USB Elite capture of land distribution alarming, says PLAAS researcher

Elite capture of land distribution alarming, says PLAAS researcher

USB News

Elite capture of land distribution alarming, says PLAAS researcher

USB Elite capture of land distribution alarming, says PLAAS researcher

  • MAY 21
  • Tags Land reform, Leader’s Angle

SHARE

Worrisome patterns of elite capture and the lack of public oversight and accountability in land distribution are concerning issues, says Professor Ruth Hall from the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS).

“Who is getting the land now that it is not exclusively a programme for the poor? The state can buy farms and allocate a R20 million farm to an individual. It can buy a R500 000 farm and allocate it to a group of 20 farm workers,” she says. “We are seeing very worrying patterns of elite capture in land distribution and there is no public oversight and accountability around how public resources are being used.”

She was one of the speakers at a Leader’s Angle event on Land Reform, alongside advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Landbank’s Dr Litha Magingxa and Dr Aninka Claassen, director of the Land & Accountability Research Centre (LARC) that was hosted by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) at the FNB Portside Building in the Cape Town City Centre.

“In addition to small-scale farmers and farm workers getting land, what we see is a pattern of urban-based business men getting access to farms, despite the fact that only 23% of beneficiaries are women.
“We also see a very concerning trend which started in restitution and is now evident in redistribution where farms are being acquired and allocated to strategic partnerships with agribusiness companies. These companies often have downstream operations and they want to control primary production by signing up farm workers as shareholders but without effective control and actual dividend that is paid out,” she says.

“When the land redistribution process started, the idea was to redistribute in open as well as rural areas. But that has disappeared off the radar. The idea that land reform is an exclusively rural and agricultural process has emerged but in our current debate this is changing. People are putting up their hands and saying, ‘We want access to land; we don’t want to wait on a housing list for decades’.”

She says one of the key issues holding back land redistribution is that the land reform budget has never been more than 1% of the national budget. “Currently the redistribution budget is sitting at 0, 4 %. In terms of actual resource allocation it doesn’t like it has ever been a political priority.”

“Three reasons why access to housing and land reform is important: Because of history, to acquire skills and to contribute to the economy.”
– Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi

“Does mining have to be at the expense of poor rural black people property rights?”
– Dr Aninka Claassen

“We must redefine the end goal of redistribution and look at the possible development of a new land reform model.”
– Dr Litha Magingxa

Find the perfect course for you

Join the USB community

Receive updates on the latest news, events, business knowledge and blogs at USB.

SUBSCRIBE NOW