While the issue of gender diversity in business is nothing new, the nature of the modern business environment has made this issue all the more important. In the run up to Women’s Month, Lyndy van den Barselaar, Managing director at Manpower South Africa, feels it is important to look more closely at the benefits that gender diversity offers businesses operating in the modern business environment, and what businesses can do to ensure they remain successful in this regard.
She explains that diversity on boards is critical to sustaining business performance. Not only does it assist to broaden the pool of eligible candidates for board positions, but also assist in expanding perspectives at a management level. While many businesses have recognised the importance of appointing members of different ages, races, educational backgrounds and expertise, the issue of gender diversity has often been overlooked.
Last year, a study carried out by Grant Thornton found that companies perform better when they have at least one female executive on their board. Analysis of the return on assets ratio (also known as return on investment) showed that, on average, companies with at least one female executive board member outperformed those with male-only boards in each of the three markets analysed. In the US, S&P 500 companies with diverse boards outperformed rivals by 1.91%. In the UK FTSE 350 the gap was 0.53% and for the Indian CNX 200, 0.85%. This translates into an opportunity cost of US$567bn, US$74bn and US$14bn in each of the three markets respectively – or around 3% of GDP in the UK and US.
As part of the 30% Club, Manpower SA strongly advocates for gender balance on boards, as it encourages better leadership ad governance, and contributes to better all-round business performance.
Van den Barselaar notes that the modern business environment also calls for businesses to actively empower the communities in which they operate, of which a large part is empowering women. Millennials entering the workforce are looking to enter into companies who care for the environment, are mindful of the communities in which they operate, operate sustainably and that are active in pursuing certain social causes.
She states that advocating for gender diversity across their boards could increase the appeal of businesses to millennials and prosumers, thereby attracting and retaining multi-talented, tech-savvy individuals.
Also important in this regard is assisting young, previously disadvantaged individuals in their educational and career paths. This will ensure that the next generation of job seekers are equipped with the necessary skills and experience to become great business leaders.
There are several ways businesses can go about introducing and sustaining gender diversity in their boards and within their organisations. Van den Barselaar explains that Manpower SA runs several initiatives, including a PhD programme for women, a graduate program, a BEE partnership and an educational career programme all aimed at assisting females and disadvantaged youth, and being part of the 30% Club – who aim to assist companies in achieving gender balance at all levels of their organisations.
She concludes by stating that in order to remain successful and relevant in the modern business environment, businesses must take the necessary steps to achieving gender diversity within their organisations.
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Off The Beaten Track
What Tourism Month means in South Africa and how Mango Airlines is focusing on local opportunities.
This September, being Tourism Month, we have so much to talk about in South Africa, and so many people to engage with, both domestically and abroad. We are privileged to be able to leverage a broad range of destinations – arguably world-class in nature, and they expand way beyond a beautiful mountain, and an ecosystem of game.
The vast majority of leisure tourists, however, remain attracted to the Mother City and various Safari destination, while business tourists tend to stick to hub cities for short durations of time before departing again.
“There is a golden opportunity to expand on the same offerings – while not detracting from them in any way. Our responsibility is to drive tourism into new areas, really emphasising the differentiators that are incredibly attractive to local and international tourists,” said Benediction Zubane, Head of Marketing at Mango Airlines.
“Often tourists visit one of the more well-known sites in an area, and are completely unaware of the other features and destinations close by. We’re seeing a lot of success in township tourism which goes to show how diversifying can really drive new tourism opportunities,” explained Zubane.
According to Statistics South Africa survey on Tourism and Migration, nearly 3.5 million international travellers visited South Africa in August 2017. Top numbers were tourists from USA, UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands, with African visitors primarily coming from SADC countries. Zubane added, “This means there is vast opportunity to begin engaging with travellers in new countries across the globe. We need to become our own best ambassador, talking-up our famous and lesser known destinations, proudly showcases our uniqueness. We should also be tourists in our own country and start exploring the wonders of the Rainbow Nation.”
Mango is passionate about helping its SMEs and entrepreneurial community to successfully overcome the unique challenges facing the tourism industry: “There has never been a more opportune time for small businesses and entrepreneurs to benefit positively from tourism in South Africa, and we hope to celebrate alongside our SME community as they fly high – both literally and figuratively,” he concludes.
FNB Receives 50 Million US-Dollars To Accelerate SME Development
First National Bank puts their focus on SME development in South Africa.
First National Bank (FNB) has received 50 million US-dollars from the DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft to deploy towards small and medium enterprise (SME) development in South Africa.
DEG is a development finance institution whose mission is to promote private-sector enterprises in developing and emerging-market countries as a contribution to sustainable growth and improved living conditions.
Mike Vacy-Lyle, CEO of FNB Business says: “The new line of funding contributes to our ongoing efforts to accelerate our contribution to SME development in South Africa. We believe that SMEs are key to stimulating sustainable economic growth and job creation. Our intervention in SME development is not only limited to funding, we also invest heavily to improve capacity and supplier development capabilities in small businesses.”
FNB continues to pioneer products and services that have taken the angst out of South Africa’s entrepreneurs, from providing free instant accounting services to online documents reservation services, and forming public-private partnerships to digitise the registration of businesses.
“Our message to entrepreneurs is that we remain committed to providing meaningful solutions to help them grow. We have exciting developments that will take us further in our journey, all aimed at advancing the SME agenda by taking the anguish out of doing business,” concludes Vacy-Lyle.
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