How do women fare in South Africa’s changing employment landscape?


Every August, South Africa observes Women’s Month to celebrate the important role women play in the workplace and in society. The reality, however, is that there is still a significant gap between men and women in terms of pay and rank in most employment sectors.

According to Statistics SA data published in the quarterly labor force survey of 2n/a quarter of 2021, women accounted for 43.4% of total employment in the second quarter of 2021. Among those in management positions, 66.9% were men compared to 33.1% women.

The University of Stellenbosch Business School has shared a report confirming that only 20.7% of board members of JSE-listed companies are women and that many JSE-listed companies have no not even a single female director, while PwC’s 2021 Executive Directors Report found that only 14% of CEOs, CFOs and Executive Directors of JSE-listed companies are women.

This points to an additional barrier of gender discrimination for women aspiring to leadership positions.

What are some of the benefits of having a better gender balance in the workplace?

Gender equity is not only the “right” thing to do, but it also makes business sense. Companies that don’t prioritize attracting and retaining female talent can miss out. When it comes to male and female job seekers, our data reveals that employment sectors such as manufacturing, construction and design and marketing seem to have more female job seekers than job seekers. men with higher education.

In addition to accessing a larger pool of talent, research indicates that hiring women can improve outcomes. According to data from S&P 500 companies, analyzed by BoardReady in 2021, there was a strong link between board diversity and revenue growth during the pandemic. Comparing 2019 and 2020 revenues, companies where women held more than 30% of board seats outperformed their peers in 11 out of 15 industries.

Furthermore, studies suggest that a high representation of women in leadership positions creates less gender discrimination in the hiring process and a higher retention rate. In addition, women promote creativity. Companies with women in leadership positions often experience the phenomenon of “innovation intensity,” producing 20% ​​more patents than male-led teams. Greater representation of women in organizations is also associated with higher status. Fortune’s most respected companies have twice as many women in senior leadership as other companies.

Given the value women can bring to work, what steps can companies take to close the gender gap and position themselves as employers of choice for South Africa’s top female talent?

While the global COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed the world of work and ushered in a “new normal”, it has also presented businesses with new opportunities to level the playing field and create greater gender equality at work. coming. The latest data from CareerJunction reveals where these opportunities may exist.

Create more remote/hybrid work opportunities

Women want to be flexible about where, when and how they work. Historically, women have been at a disadvantage when applying for certain roles because they often have to juggle multiple roles as a wife, mother, or caregiver while simultaneously pursuing a career.

The recent move away from traditional office employment means companies can now access a wider pool of talent by creating remote/hybrid employment opportunities for women.

Interestingly, many more women apply for remote positions than men across multiple job categories. For example, female applications increased by 368% for teaching jobs with the “work from home” option, while male applications increased by 119% for distance education jobs.

Other occupations that have seen a more balanced increase in remote job applications are shown in the table below.

Considering which industries attract SA’s top female talent?

The 3 fastest growing job sectors over the past 12 months were administration, office and support, legal and marketing, followed by architecture and engineering and design, media and the arts. When it comes to these 3 fastest growing sectors in terms of hiring, female applicants take the lead since most applicants in these sectors were women. If your organization falls into one of these sectors, you may be in a good position to attract quality candidates when you submit a job offer.

On the other hand, male applicants have dominated applications for architecture and engineering jobs as well as design, media and arts vacancies over the past 12 months. So, if your organization falls into one of these sectors and you want to attract top female talent from SA, you may need to share more information about the additional value you can offer as an employer in terms of work-life balance, benefits, etc.


In an increasingly competitive job market, South African companies looking to differentiate themselves as employers of choice would be well advised to consider the value that women can bring to the table and play their part in bridging the gap. the gender gap in the workplace. In the short term, companies can begin to close the pay gap by offering fairer packages for their vacancies and proactively scouting for fair talent by identifying suitable female candidates for leadership roles.

In the medium term, employers should focus on training, mentoring and coaching women as soon as they join the company to support skills development and career development opportunities. Finally, in the long term, companies can achieve greater gender equity by accelerating the recruitment of women to ensure a higher percentage of women in management and leadership positions.


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