Stop blaming women for not pulling each other up

Panel tells Finance Indaba that women's empowerment and upliftment is everyone's responsibility.

“We said our economy needs to be inclusive, so why can’t women be half of the executive team or the boardroom?” asked Dineo Molefe, managing director of T Systems. Dineo was speaking as a participant of a panel discussion titled “Stop Empowering Women, Acknowledge Them”, at this year’s Finance Indaba, with CFO of PPC Tryphosa Ramano, CFO of Discovery Health Charlotte Sanqela and Investec Bank CFO Marle van Der Walt

Dineo argued that instead of people expecting women to empower each other, everyone should take responsibility in empowering women. “There simply aren’t enough women in the workplace, yet we are expected to pull each other up,” she explained. She believes every business should put women empowerment at the top of its agenda because it makes business sense to have 50 percent representation of women, especially for businesses that are selling products to women.

Charlotte concurred, saying that there isn’t enough grooming of women from the bottom to the top in most organisations. “It’s important for companies to create a pipeline and groom women to leadership positions,” she explained. She added that often women themselves are blamed for the lack of women in powerful positions, even though they are not in a position where they can do something about it. 

“Women can’t do anything in the workplace without being judged for not uplifting others, but men don’t have this burden."

But Tryphosa differs. In her view, it’s important that those who make it to the top remember that someone else paved the way for them. They need to ensure that they continue to build the pipeline for others who will come behind them. 

Marle commented that the banking industry is slower than other industries in terms of transformation and finding female CEO. 

“The rules are different for men and woman, and it’s not fair, but you have to do what you have to pull yourself up. We know the rules now and we know how to play the game. Women think if they’re good at their jobs they will get recognised but it doesn’t work like that. So we have to work extra hard to promote ourselves.”