Melanie Veness – PCB CEO
It was interesting to note that the newly appointed labour leader in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn, was forced to respond to critics regarding his appointment of an all-male “top four” shadow leadership. Laduma for representation!
It has been widely believed that successful women jealously guard their positions from other women and that they go out of their way to prevent the advancement of female colleagues. New research, by the Columbia Business School in New York, has found that women in powerful positions do not actually stand in the way of other women’s success. The study of top management teams at 1500 companies over 20 years revealed that, in fact, female chief executives were more likely to appoint women in senior positions than their male counterparts.
The most likely reason for the shortage of women in executive positions, they found, was a male desire to keep women out of the boardroom. The authors of the report concluded that men tend to cling to control and that women face an implicit quota, with firms seeking to maintain a small number of women on their top management teams, usually only one. Firms gain legitimacy from the appointment of women, but the value of that legitimacy declines with each subsequent appointment.
I am no mad women’s libber, and as I’ve said before, the last thing that I, and I suspect most other women want, is to be employed to meet some designated quota. I believe that more of us should be included, because it is a wise business decision to do so, because we are capable of bringing unique perspectives and skills to the boardroom table.
What this report does say to me, is that women need to become stronger advocates for the appointment of other women. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change that you want to see in the world”.
Apart from us needing to advocate strongly for the advancement of other women, there is also a need for us women to be proud of each other’s successes and to lift each other up.
I was eavesdropping on a conversation on Friday night at the golf club, which was about our very own Miss KZN, Rodee Verburgh. She has qualified to stay in the running for Miss South Africa, and one of the criteria to stay in the running, is how much support she enjoys from her local community. She looked a little down when she said that unfortunately KZN competitors in the past had not enjoyed the support that other province’s candidates had. My immediate thought was: “that’s nonsense – if she’s our girl, then she deserves our support”.
Ladies of KZN, you can start advocating immediately. You can lift one of our own by liking Rodee’s Facebook page: “Miss KZN – Rodee Verburgh”. And then, be the change, the sky’s the limit.