Gender Mainstreaming Awards: Rewarding empowerment


The Gender Mainstreaming Awards acknowledge those companies that have actively worked towards gender diversity at the executive and board level.

Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu says the awards celebrated the Constitution. (Image: Business Engage)

Sulaiman Philip

Organisations that had embraced gender diversity in their executive suites and on their boards were celebrated at the fifth Gender Mainstreaming Awards, held at Vodaworld in Midrand on 7 September, hosted by Business Engage and its partners, including Brand South Africa and the national government.

The evening’s host, Sandy Ngema Ehrenreich, began the evening by thanking the nominees and winners for putting gender on the agenda. She reminded them that they were at the forefront of innovative thinking about how businesses were run profitably.

Sandy Ngema Ehrenreich, the evenings host, said that women were showing men how to run profitable and sustainable businesses. (Image: Business Engage)

While the Gender Mainstreaming Awards made it easier for the world to recognise that women had an important role to play in building businesses and societies, she struck a cautionary note by reminding them as well that, unfortunately, in 2017 women still had to fight to have their voices heard. “We are still fighting to be educated. Still fighting to be protected. Still fighting to be loved. We are still fighting to be heard.”

PwC Southern Africa CEO Dion Shange and Nana Madikane, the transformation, diversity and inclusion leader at the research and tax company, spoke about the importance of the skills that women brought to corporations. Madikane pointed out that the awards offered businesses an accountability framework against which they could measure their inclusion programmes.

Shange added that female executives offered the skills that global CEOs were most concerned about sourcing. “Emotional intelligence, empathy, responsibility and optimism – these are skills women have. What we call soft skills. And yet, women are still under-represented in upper management.”

Keynote address

Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu congratulated Business Engage for creating an award that celebrated transformation and, in effect, for celebrating an important objective of South Africa’s Constitution.

The evening showed that South African business was making the effort to create an inclusive society by giving women real opportunities to prove their value and not simply ticking boxes on a report. Soon, the minister added, the gender gap would be a thing of the past. “We might say that it’s just one. We might say that it is slow. But we are moving forward.”

She urged the winners to remember those women who would follow them. Women must resist the temptation to pull the ladder up behind them, Shabangu said. “Successful women need to make themselves available as mentors. That is how you create opportunities – by mentoring.”

Celebrating South African business empowering women at the Gender Mainstreaming Awards. (Image: Sulaiman Philip)


Government awards:

The Multiparty Women’s Caucus

Empowerment of Women in the Community Award

The award recognises existing sustainable community initiatives or strategies to alleviate poverty through skills training or create business opportunities for women in poorer communities.

Non-JSE listed companies:

Cummins Africa Middle East: The global manufacturer of diesel engines and power equipment has put in place programmes, internships and an apprentice programme that has allowed women to enter what has historically been a male-dominated industry.

JSE listed companies:

Clover Mama Africa: The Clover Mama Africa programme has, over 13 years, supported 43 Mama’s across the country who collectively care for 14,000 children and 2,500 elderly people through social enterprise programmes.

 Women Empowerment in the Workplace

The award celebrates businesses that have created a culture that allows women to thrive through training and capacity-building programmes.

Non-JSE listed companies:

EY: Gender parity is an important aspect of EY’s business culture. The company’s South African executive leadership is 44% female and women make up 57% of the company’s staff. This has been achieved through years of recruitment, training and promotion of talented women.

JSE listed companies:

Rand Merchant Bank: The company’s gender empowerment initiative, Athena, has helped to create an environment in which women feel empowered to achieve individual career goals by allowing for career agility, support networks and training.

Investing in Young Women

The award recognises companies that have put in place strategies to empower young women by giving them access to educational opportunities.

Non-JSE listed companies:

Cummins Africa Middle East

JSE-listed companies:

Barloworld Equipment: Inspired by the Constitution, the company’s 40/20 programme is designed to boost female representation to 40% across its workforce by 2020.

Economic Empowerment Award

The award recognises organisational strategies the allow empowerment through enterprise development programmes.

Non-JSE listed companies:


JSE-listed companies:

AngloGold Ashanti

Equal Representation and Participation Award

This is awarded to companies that have created opportunities to give women meaningful participation in decision-making structures.

Coface South Africa Insurance Company: More than half the company’s employees are women, half of the executive committee and just under half of the board are female. Coface CEO Jacqui Jooste is also the first woman to head a credit insurance company.

Diversity and Transformation Award

Companies that have created an environment in which women can succeed regardless of race, colour, religion or disability are recognised in this category.


Gender Reporting by JSE-Listed Companies Award

This award recognises companies that have embraced the spirit and letter of gender mainstreaming policies.

PPC Ltd: PPC’s Women’s Forum was set up in 2011 and is recognised as a catalyst for women in the company. The forum’s vision is to attract, nurture and train the future leaders of the company.

Women on Boards Award

Companies that have transformed their boards and executive committees to reward governance skills and experience, and set up pipeline programmes to reward women with places are recognised.

Non-JSE listed companies:

Mineworkers Investment Company: the broad-based and black-owned investments company has four of nine female board members and 66% female representation in the executive suite.

JSE-listed companies:

Rand Merchant Bank

Women on Executive Committees in Multinationals

The award recognises multinationals with successful  programmes that have shifted the statistics on female representation on executive committees.

Thomson Reuters Markets (SA): Globally, the company runs initiatives designed to develop and retain female employees. In Africa it runs Lean In circles, a Women Business Resource Group, and its Leadership Team is 53% female.

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