Business Advice, Business Trends

There is no gender for success in business

The mindset that ‘a woman’s place is in the kitchen’ has been around for many generations.  Men have traditionally been the breadwinners while women have been the homemakers. Is this why women are still so underrepresented in leadership roles across so many industries all over the world? While the numbers have improved and more and more women are making their mark in various industries, we still have a long way to go.


In a study published in the Oliver Wyman report “Women in Financial Services 2020”, only 6% of CEO’s in the industry around the world are women. Of the leadership roles within these participating companies, only 20% of Exco and 23% of Board members are women. The study also found that companies where there was higher representation of women in leadership positions, most were in marketing and HR instead. Few were in finance or strategic management roles. Besides the fact that laws have been put in place all around the world to encourage women empowerment, progress seems to be slow. Lana Visser, financial planner at Fiscal looks at how can we change these statistics and why it is so important.


Gender diversity is good for business

“There are a number of reasons why having gender diversity in leadership roles can be good for business”, says Visser. “To start, it has been shown that men and women differ in the way they think, their perspectives on various situations and the way they experience things. This brings about diverse thinking for more balanced decision making. It can also lead to more innovative ideas and greater creativity, which in turn improves problem-solving”.


She explains that by having a well diverse team leading your business, it can also broaden your client base “as leadership better understands the demands or motivators of both men and women”. Visser adds that research has also shown that investors value companies that have a more diverse group in leadership, “as it indicates that the business has a policy of inclusion for all.”


Women in finance – the numbers don’t add up

With these reasons in mind, why are there still so few women heading up firms in the finance industry? Visser makes mention of an interesting study done in 2017 called “Gender Differences in Behavioral Traits and Labor Market Outcomes” highlights the differences in behaviour between men and women towards risk, competitiveness and their willingness to negotiate.


The study found that by nature, women are more risk averse and less willing to negotiate, while men are the opposite. “Perhaps this behaviour, coupled with the history of women’s place in society, has made women less reluctant to strive for the more senior roles and if they do, are less willing to negotiate the salary they deserve,” contemplates Visser.


According to the Global Wage Report for 2018/2019, men earn roughly 20% more per month than women globally and in South Africa, men earn on average 28% more per month than what women do. “So, it’s not just a title battle happening in the workplace, but a remuneration one as well. The 2017 study also states that competitiveness could not be differentiated as a male or female trait. This means that women’s desire to compete and succeed is the same as men,” says Visser. “The question remains – why is it then, that men are still dominating the higher-ranking seats in a world that is so focused on gender equality?”


Visser says that globally there is a shift as more and more companies are realising that having a good blend of men and women in leadership is good for their business. Adding to that, women have changed their lifestyle from the traditional “stay at home mom” to carving out successful careers for themselves.


Visser says, “It starts here and this in turn filters down to our daughters who see strong, successful women as role models. This sets the example for what their future can look like.”


Women should empower girls

Visser shares a few tips as to how families and caregivers can empower their girls:

  • Talk to them about leadership. Encourage them to pursue their passion and strive for what they want. Do not compare them to boys or make one gender seem superior to another. This can build confidence over time and striving for excellence becomes a habit.
  • Talk to them about your career and the path you took to get there. Children do as we do, not as we say, so show them your dedication, your drive, and your passion.
  • Mentor your daughter. If her passion is not yours then find mentoring programmes or someone close that can help her develop her skills and passion. Showing the benefits that their talent can bring from a young age will encourage them for the future.
  • Point out real examples of successful women. There are so many out there and their stories can be a real inspiration to young girls.


“Empowering our women is important to ensure equal opportunity, not only for ourselves, but for the future women of our industry. We cannot only rely on businesses to realise the importance of gender diversity; we have to drive the idea ourselves,” concludes Visser.


Lana Visser, financial planner, Fiscal

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