According to a recent study undertaken by The Human Edge and partner VitalSmarts, the five toughest issues business women in South Africa are facing today are:
- Holding a salary-related discussion
- Negotiating limits when asked to do more than is reasonably possible
- Not receiving support from female colleagues
- Holding a performance-related discussion
- Advocating for equality in payment and/or promotions between female and male employees.
Clinical Psychologist and leading corporate trainer Helene Vermaak says that the study indicates that 4 out of 10 South African women leave a crucial work related conversation feeling disengaged.
“Open dialogue around a high-stake or stressful topic is crucial,” says Vermaak. “By being able to engage in a crucial conversation, people are able to make quality decisions and work together on the decision. This is not happening nearly enough in the South African environment, with 10% of women feeling compelled to leave their jobs after unsuccessful dialogue.”
By comparison, VitalSmarts’ research revealed that the most difficult conversation women have in the global workplace deals with their workload – which is one of the main reasons that 1 in 5 women leave their jobs.
A range of hurdles
Given the legacy issues that shape South African society, The Human Edge researched whether women across different race groups experienced the same problems. According to Vermaak, each group responded to facing a totally different hurdle in their workplace.
- Black women: Working with someone who doesn’t believe that a black female should or could hold the position.
- Asian women: Negotiating to be assigned greater responsibility or a special project.
- Mixed race women: Not receiving support from female colleagues.
- White women: Negotiating limits when asked to do more than is reasonable or possible.
Vermaak concludes that “The issues facing South African business women are not vastly different from those facing women globally,” says Vermaak. “Decision-makers must address these issues to ensure that these highly-talented women remain in the working environment.
“The risk taken by employers who do not pay attention to these crucial conversations is that women will take their sought-after skills into other earning areas, exacerbating the current skills shortage.”