The Steinhoff Saga Management review - University of Stellenbosch Business School

July – December 2019

Women on South African boards
– facts, fiction and forward thinking

  • Report by Prof Anita Bosch, Prof Kathleen van der Linde & Shimon Barit
  • MAR 2020


Women make up 51% of the South African population. Yet, only 20,7% of directors of JSE-listed companies are female. So, there is work to be done. This report aims to help board members, management teams and the public to understand how South Africa got to this point, and what we can do to change it.

There are five sections to the report:

  1. Facts and fiction: This section presents statistics on how many women are on boards, both in South Africa and abroad. The report then explores how statistics can be misleading when taken out of context. The part concludes by debunking five misperceptions about women on boards.
  2. True stories: lessons from the rest of the world: This section looks at other countries to determine how quotas and targets have been used to encourage gender parity on boards.
  3. The limits of the law: The South African legal framework has two parts. The first looks at the current legislation, the second highlights the gaps in the framework.
  4. Forward thinking: getting more women on boards: This section explores what it takes to get more women on boards, and more out of the women that are on boards. It looks at what it takes for women directors to be able to effect change through power, influence and critical mass.
  5. Moving forward: turning theory into action: This section explains what we can do to encourage inclusive boards. This includes interventions, critical conversations and lobbying to increase board diversity.

The lead author of this report is Prof Anita Bosch, USB Research Chair of Women at Work. The publication of this report is sponsored by WDB Investment Holdings.

Download full report

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

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