Despite many gains made in women’s participation in the economy, it’s still a man’s world when it comes to leadership in corporate spaces. The pandemic has forced thousands of women to leave the workplace, creating an even bigger vacuum.
McKinsey and Company, a management consulting firm based in the US, found that “The pandemic had a near-immediate effect on women’s employment. One in four women are considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers versus one in five men. While all women have been impacted, three major groups have experienced some of the largest challenges: working mothers, women in senior management positions, and Black women.
In South Africa, women were the hardest hit by the pandemic lead job losses. At the start of the pandemic, women accounted for two thirds of those who lost their jobs, according to research.
While this has obvious negative repercussions for families, an absence of women leaders in the workplace has adverse effects on organisations too.
Women leaders don’t only save the company money; they also add more to the organisation’s bottom line.
Researchers from the Potential Project found that female leaders have more engaged employees when compared to their male counterparts. Furthermore, the researchers noted that “based on Gallup research, a disengaged employee costs their organisation $3400 (R49846,06) for every $10,000 (R146606,07) of salary in lost productivity.”
“By driving more engaged/less disengaged employees, women leaders save their organisations $1.43 million (R20 959 738) for every 1,000 employees (assumes an average salary of $60,000),” the researchers noted.
Between 2002 and 2014, 80 firms from the Fortune 1000 with women CEOs bested the S&P 500 performance by 226%, according to a Quantopian study.
Before the pandemic, South Africa scored poorly when it came to the number of women in management positions.
An article by Polity, reported that “only one of the top 40 listed JSE companies has a female CEO. About 68% of all senior management positions are held by men and women hold only 32% of executive positions,” adding that “even though women make up over half of the population in South Africa, they remain under-represented in other positions of authority. They comprise 32% of the Supreme Court of Appeal judges, 31% of advocates, 30% of ambassadors and 24% of executive heads of state-owned enterprises (SOEs)”.