by GIFT NDOLWANE
JOHANNESBURG – DESPITE the fact that women make up slightly over half of South Africa’s official population of 51,8 million, they remain relatively unrepresented in many industries and professional positions.
According to Statistics South Africa, women fill only 44 percent of skilled posts, a figure which has not shifted much over the years – standing still at the same percentage it did back in September 2002.
Accountancy is among the sector that has remained male-dominated but some exemplary women have thrived despite the odds stacked against them.
QuickBooks, the innovative global accounting and business software solutions organisation, has given the women the platform to flourish.
Lauren Du Plooy is a professional accountant who partners with the firm.
“The financial industry is constantly changing,” she said.
“This means that professionals working in the sector need to be agile and comfortable with change while not holding on to legacy thinking – including any preconceptions of which gender would perform better in any particular role,” Du Plooy added.
She urged young women looking to pursue a career in the financial industry, or as an accountant, to be open to change and not to be afraid to be agents of change.
“The industry is becoming ever more diverse and, ultimately, it is admirable to stand out from the crowd anyway,” Du Plooy said.
Rich Preece, Global Leader of the QuickBooks Accountant Business, concurred.
“Lauren makes a great point here. Women leading industries and multinational boards across the world may stand out from the crowd but they also serve as role models for so many young girls who may not otherwise be encouraged to pursue their interests and passions,” Preece said.
She expressed inspiration at South Africa unifying behind the successes of female business leaders.
Preece gave the examples of Basani Maluleke and Maria Ramos, chief executive officers at African Bank and Absa respectively.
Referring to a recent study by management consulting firm, McKinsey, Preece highlighted that gender diversity also correlated with profitability and value creation.
“The report found that better inclusion strategies actually give companies the competitive edge. While social justice is typically the driver of such efforts, and rightfully so, there is an added bonus that diversity in business has proven to be a key enabler of growth,” Preece added.
Hajirah Dalvie, Another professional partner of QuickBooks, expressed pride at achieving her goal of running her own bookkeeping practice and being completely self-sufficient.
“I like the idea of a challenge and believe that any challenge is achievable. I hope that more women look to the financial industry for career opportunities because the industry needs more of us – we have goals, we can multitask and we always get the job done,” she said.
Incorporating the idea of equal opportunity into her own business, Dalvie is motivated by being able to help small businesses who cannot afford expensive accounting firms to grow their businesses.
“In future, I would also like to start a training and development centre for young women, single mothers and women who are sole breadwinners. I want to empower more women in this field,” she added.
The trio’s sentiments came as South Africa commemorates Women’s Month (August) paying tribute to the thousands of women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 in protest for freedom and equality.
– CAJ News