Empowering women | Whose responsibility?


In the world of internet memes, the difference between a social activist and a social justice warrior is simple.

The assumption is as follows: Upon entering a building and noticing the absence of a wheelchair ramp, the social activist is inclined to go into action by ensuring that such a ramp is built. The social justice warrior, however, will insist on having the stairs removed so that able bodied people cannot get into the building either.

With 2018 trying to get out of the holiday spirit, and last year’s Women’s Month is long forgotten, the pertinent question remains whether enough is being done for the empowerment of women. Considering the opening statement, the point one wishes to draw home is perhaps that the empowerment of women does not exclusively mean the disempowerment of men. That said, wherein does the responsibility to empower women lie? Does it lie with women themselves or with men?

What’s the difference?

Utilising two generic companies, we interrogated the Amended BEE Codes to determine the extent to which they attempt to empower African women. This yielded surprising results.

If a hypothetical company brings an African woman in as shareholder and ensures that 10% of every level of management has representation from African women and the same percentage of total procurement awarded to an African female owned company versus doing the same with African men, the difference is staggering.

A company supporting women stands to get 27.52 scorecard points compared to 15.82.

This is a 74% improvement, just on gender alone.

If the women are under the age of 35, this increases to 34.47 points.

In effect, the introducing a mere 10% of African women at every level of an organisation can contribute more than 1/3 of BEE scorecard points. Furthermore, the inclusion of a properly managed enterprise, skills and economic development strategy to the above plus the 10% objective will secure a level 4 BEE compliance.

If everything remained the same sans for the replacement of African women by African men the same company will, interestingly end up with a level 8 score.

The reality

That BEE legislation has African women’s best interests at heart is clear. This would therefore imply that this group is getting the lion’s share of benefits, to

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Read this article by Deon Oberholzer, CEO of Gestalt Growth Strategies, as well as a host of other topical management articles written by professionals, consultants and academics in the February/March 2018 edition of BusinessBrief.

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