“Research has proven that you need the numbers for you to make an influence. If you’re the lone voice in that boardroom, nobody’s going to listen to you. But if there’s two or three of you, you make the same noise, then the numbers make an impact,” African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA) Tryphosa Ramano told CNBC Africa on Thursday.
“We have to make sure that an organisation like AWCA, we push the women on to the boards, to become CFOs and then when you’re there, we actually try and make an impact.”
Despite a levelling of the education playing field for men and women, there are still few women in senior positions in South Africa’s financial services sector.
In 2007, the Businesswomen's Association of South Africa (BWASA) conducted annual Women in Corporate Leadership census. They reported that of the eight companies in the financial services sector that were examined, Mutual and Federal Insurance Company Ltd topped the list with 30.8 per cent of women in their company being directors, followed by Peregrine Holdings Ltd with 28.6 per cent and the JSE Ltd with 28.6 per cent.
“In organisations, when you’re appointed as a woman, it is your responsibility. It’s not about the brain power you have, the intelligence that you have, it’s not about you, it’s all about the nation at large. It’s all about these young girls that are looking you to you so your role is a role beyond your intellectual capability,” Ramano explained.
Ramano was previously the CFO for South African Airways and is currently the CEO and board member of Pretoria Portland Cement Company Limited.
“I would like to see AWCA continue with the journey, continue with what it’s doing to make sure that now we can actually point at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed companies to say we have the CFOs, because to be a CFO you need to be a chartered accountant.”
The AWCA, together with Fordham University in the United States, have formed a partnership that will annually see five young South African women interested in chartered accountancy, through the AWCA, be able to further their studies at the American university.
“Nurture the young girls who are in high school to make sure that they get to the level of university, and from there onwards we as women in the AWCA will continue to nurture them to make sure that we prepare them to go to the next level,” said Ramano.