Thirty-one percent of South African companies don't have any female representation in senior leadership roles and a woman who wants to move up the corporate ladder should have a proactive approach and attitude as well as a confidence and understanding of where she actually wants to be or what she wants to be doing, says Beverley Hancock, head of the "appoint" (sic) division at Sirdar Group.
This would allow for a woman to better focus on targeting positions that allow for her personal and career growth and to attain the necessary skills and experience that will take her to the next level.
Research by Sirdar Group in 2018 indicated that 72.1% of SA boards surveyed had at least one woman. The total number of women directors on boards surveyed was 21.8%.
Networking is crucial in the process of moving up the corporate ladder, according to Hancock. In her engagement with successful women in business across Africa, she has found many active or aspiring non-executive directors have a willingness and a desire to refer other women who may be suitable to particular positions or board positions in general.
"There is also a growing number of online platforms focused on women on boards and in preparing the next generation of female leaders," says Hancock. Taking practical steps to educate oneself in an applied manner is another important factor, in her view.
Lastly, Hancock suggests seeking a mentor or mentors to advise, guide and strategise with you by giving additional insight and allowing for your personal and business growth.
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"I know many successful entrepreneurs and executives that, whilst they initially completed their studies as a chartered accountant, for example, found their career path being driven not by their qualification but by their passions, natural energies and personality as well as the career opportunities presented - and created - over time," says Hancock.
"It is the confidence of women themselves, in their ability and the value they bring in the C suite that is key and must continue to grow. Gaining the experience and skills needed to take that next step up the ladder is important. Not being afraid to say one has the ability and to take the challenges and opportunities presented is just as important."