5 outsourcing myths dispelled

Outsourcing has become a reality for many companies as they look to bolster their competitive advantage and consolidate costs.

In South Africa, where many industries are affected by a workforce mostly driven by organised labour, outsourcing can become one of the best survival strategies in their business toolkits.

But the question is always where to start? Which jobs should be outsourced and which positions should stay in-house? For example, imagine you’re the owner of an engineering business. Would you outsource your IT or employ internal technicians? Now imagine yourself as the owner of a healthcare business. Would you outsource your cleaning services or would it make sense to you to rather employ and manage a team of cleaners? If you owned an airline, would you employ chefs or outsource your catering requirements? What if you managed a mine? A hotel? A transportation company?

Though it makes sense to focus on your core business while an outsourcing company focuses on your work force requirements, companies are still hesitant.

While there are many myths regarding outsourcing, the truth is the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. In a business environment characterised by a fluctuating market, downgraded economic conditions, high unemployment rates, skills shortages and labour unrest, more and more companies are seeing the wisdom of choosing to outsource staff.

Myth one: outsourcing is too expensive

• Staffing a business is a time-consuming and costly exercise, as recruitment expenditures can run between 15% and 25% of the candidate’s total first year annual earnings.

• Added to that, mandatory staff training and Human Resources related costs, bank- and payroll charges, and payroll export fees further impact overheads.

• Further, as South Africa has a highly regulated employment environment, companies’ bottom lines are often negatively affected due to industrial action and operational disruptions.

Truth: outsourcing reduces costs

By outsourcing the staffing element of your operations to an organisation who understands Human Resources and the law intricately, and who appreciates that its clients’ focus should be on their core business and growing their organisations, you can save on all of the above concerns:

• For instance, the company would add an agreed management fee to the client’s existing labour bill to manage all their staffing requirements and HR related costs.

• Clients further save substantially as all training, skills development and competency licensing requirements in certain industries are for Innovative Staffing Solutions’ account. As the company is dedicated to providing a skilled and competent labour force to its clients, it ensures that all employees are proficient and skilled according to their respective professions.

Myth two: loss of control over business processes

• Some might argue that outsourcing results in the loss of control over certain business processes such as driving, guarding, cleaning, administration and accounting.

Truth: focus on core business processes rather than supporting ones

• Back office operations don’t generate money for your business but they do take up a lot of your time and create unnecessary stress. By outsourcing non-essential functions, our clients can better focus on their core business functions. Also, outsourcing allows management to play a more strategic role by concentrating on other crucial aspects, such as operations and the financial growth of the business rather than having to deal with routine issues and activities.

Myth three: lack of employee commitment

• While there is a concern that outsourced employees may lack the necessary commitment to fulfil their roles adequately, the same could be said for any unmotivated employee.

Truth: staff are easier to let go or replace

• While businesses need to build strong relationships with their people, they also need to focus on profitability. This sometimes includes being able to let go of people who are not performing well, who do not fit in with the corporate culture or who do not demonstrate the necessary commitment. Outsourcing allows this process to take place more easily as the contract usually allows for an employee to be replaced or moved onto another contract without all the associated human resource issues. Instead of just dismissing, the outsourced employee will be shifted to another site where the culture fit may be better. Alternatively, the outsourced company’s disciplinary code will be followed eliminating all risk involved for the client such as CCMA hearings.

Myth four: only unskilled and semi-skilled staff are outsourced

• Start-up organisations and small to medium enterprises often think that outsourcing is only aimed at larger organisations who outsource their unskilled such as farm labourers, grocery clerks, hotel maids, or general cleaners for instance) or semi-skilled workers such as truck drivers, security guards and retail salespeople.

Truth: fill the expert labour gap

• Outsourcing can be as effective for organisations looking for unskilled or semi-skilled personnel as it is for those looking for people with more specialised skills such as engineers, marketers and accountants, specifically where there is a shortage of expert skills in a particular field.

• Good outsourcing companies make sure they recruit the best talent in their respective fields to ensure their clients are happy because satisfied clients mean repeat or increased business. We also have stringent processes in place to check the credentials of all our staff and provide mentorship and training programmes to ensure staff are business-ready and updated on the latest industry trends.

Myth five: outsourcing is a long, tedious and legal process

Companies are often under the impression that outsourcing is a lengthy process and that it involves months or years’ of union negotiations to outsource its labour force.

Truth: Outsourcing can be done within days

• The process of outsourcing staff is a relatively simple one.

Arnoux Maré is the MD of Innovative Staffing Solutions and CEO of Innovative Solutions Group.

5 tips to facilitate transformation

Many organisations are struggling to come to terms with transformation under the new Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) codes.

The reality is, BBBEE is here to stay and the sooner companies embrace the idea, the better.

And no-one is alone. The entire South African market is affected by it. The fundamental principles of BBBEE although extremely stringent, are sound. When companies do embrace the codes, they position themselves to boost their bottom lines and, more importantly, to make a difference in the country.

While businesses with a turnover of R10m or less are automatically considered Level 4 under the new codes, which in this market is extremely favourable. Those with a turnover of more than R10 million need to comply with the five priority elements of equity ownership; management control; skills development; preferential procurement, supply development and enterprise development; and socio-economic development.

For several companies, the codes present major challenges and compliance is regarded as an expensive and time-consuming exercise. In addition, misconceptions around the five elements hinder many from even attempting to become BBBEE compliant. This means they are unable to pursue business from government and parastatals as well as from other companies that are complaint and demand compliance from their suppliers.

Five tips to facilitate transformation:

1. Accept that BBBEE is here to stay

The private sector needs to embrace BBBEE rather than feel resentful when they are compelled to comply. Key to accepting it is to choose initiatives that resonate with everyone in the organisation. It is also important to ensure employees understand the concept of ‘paying it forward’, which is so much more than just giving good service. It’s about nurturing and creating opportunities for others and understanding that South Africa is only as good as the quality of the people it empowers.

Interestingly, most entrepreneurs understand the basic concept of paying it forward and feel a sense of responsibility to empower others. This is especially true in instances where they themselves have received assistance on their own growth journeys.

2. Be smart about how you structure your strategy

Where you can, give of your time and resources rather than paying out money, especially in the current economic environment where cash is king. This refers specifically to the socio-economic development aspect of the codes. So, if a company employs skilled painters or builders, it could rather paint a school, build restrooms or provide training on how to build or paint.

It is important that everyone buys into the process, from senior management to entry-level employees as well as customers and communities.

3. Educate, educate, educate

Companies are often apprehensive about training staff because they believe they will lose them once they have reached a higher level of competency. Losing them means the money and time spent training them will be lost. It was Richard Branson who said, “train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

And, let’s face it, who wants to remain untrained? The new generation of young people need more stimulation than ever before. In addition, there is a trend among young people today to choose freedom above money. With powerful technology in the palms of their hands and information readily available, they feel the world is their oyster. Their reasons for staying in a job need to be compelling. They need to feel like they are growing and evolving and there is an enticing future for them. In addition, many young people are more politically and socially aware and want to know that the company they work for is making a positive difference in the world.

If young people are not educated, they will become a dead weight and the future of our economy will be uncertain. Companies that carry the empowerment torch have a deep understanding of this idea, because it makes so much sense on every possible level.

Most importantly, from the BEE codes perspective, a great portion of the points lie in the correct senior and top management and their demographics. The success of an organisation is hinged on its ability to empower and grow the correct individuals to become decision makers.

4. Hold people accountable

BBBEE needs to belong to everyone in the organisation. If businesses decide to go for it, they need to embrace it, commit to it, be in it. The process cannot be sabotaged by those who don’t believe in the process and stymie efforts along the way.

While equity ownership is an element that cannot be changed without the buy-in of top management, the organisation as a whole can ensure that the other elements are managed correctly to achieve the desired outcome.

5. Get expert advice

Companies that do want to embrace BBBEE, but feel daunted by the process, should consider investing wisely by seeking expert advice. It is counter-productive to brood on how costly the process of transformation process is and much more constructive to think about how much compliance can benefit the company. The correct expertise will ensure that the desired results are achieved with the minimum level of effort, time and resources.

Roxanne Da Mata Gonçalves is the Director of Strata-G Labour Solutions.

What two words can increase a leader’s influence?

Today’s leaders cannot rely on the leadership style that dominated the past 100 years – the order giving that was driven by a military, hierarchical leadership.

If you want to be an effective leader in the next decade, you have to be able to replace order giving with influence.

Order giving is a lot easier than influencing people. Order giving relies on position and power while influence requires a good relationship, mutual respect, trust and a bunch of other subtle skills and qualities. That’s one of the reasons why today’s leaders are battling to let go of their “order giving” leadership style.

If you’re going to set about increasing your influence in people’s lives, you’re going to have to do some hard work on yourself. The first step to developing influence is to understand that your behaviour has the ability to influence other people’s behaviour. In the same way that animals respond to the behaviour of humans, other people respond to your behaviour.

If, therefore, you wish to influence other people, look at what you can change or adjust in your own behaviour first.

One of the simplest (but not easiest) skills to acquire is the skill of listening to people. This was a totally unnecessary skill for the order giver. If they were in charge of you, they didn’t listen to you. They gave you orders and YOU did the listening.

With the increasing complexity of today’s world, no one leader can claim to be the all-knowing expert in any particular field. The key to successful leadership today, therefore, is to surround yourself with the necessary experts and then listen to them so that you can make effective decisions for the business.

A leader who can’t or won’t listen to his/her people is engaging in high risk behaviour. None of us is as smart as all of us. So, when you embrace a collective, collaborative leadership style that involves listening to your people, you lower your risks and raise your chances of success.

But the big question is: HOW do you listen to people and, more importantly, how do you demonstrate to people that you do actually listen to them? If people get the feeling (and all it needs is a feeling) that you don’t listen to them, they’ll stop talking to you. When that happens, you switch off a very important source of information, rapidly increasing your chances of making uninformed decisions.

It’s therefore critical that you show people you’re listening to them. Of course, you do that in many ways. Asking people for their opinion is not enough. You can do that then not listen to their opinion when they give it.
One of the most powerful ways of showing people that you’re listening is to use two little words that send them some very powerful signals.

Those two words are, “You’re right.”

Naturally, you’re only going to use those words where appropriate. If you use them indiscriminately, people will soon spot what you’re doing, so save them for when you really mean them.

When someone tells you something that you realise is valid, innovative, helpful, valuable or insightful, look them in the eye, and say, “You’re right.”

Then give them a reason as to why you think they’re right and show them that you have taken what they have said seriously by using your position to translate their view into action. That may not happen immediately. It may be in a week or month’s time but, they will soon see that you have acted on what they said and word will get around.

You naturally don’t go around telling everyone they’re right thinking you’re going to win friends and influence people. You save the words for when you really believe you need to use them.

When you tell someone they’re right, an interesting thing happens in them. They feel heard, they feel validated and they immediately want to give you the opportunity to be heard by them. That increases your influence in their lives.

How many people have you worked for that you felt didn’t really hear you? Remember how you never bothered to give them your opinion? Remember how you never bent over backwards to support them or carry out their instructions?

Well, the same applies to you. When your people feel you hear them they will bend over backwards to support you however they can.

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, @HRFuturemag, and assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery.

Why companies are urged to manage their corporate governance risks

Corporate governance is rapidly becoming the widest business risk in South Africa, as the number of large corporates facing accusations of involvement in corruption and unethical behaviour continues to grow.

It is vital for businesses to ensure that they protect themselves against damages as a result of poor governance decisions by their executive members.

Every year there are companies that go into financial distress, business rescue, or even insolvency due to lapses in governance, resulting in major losses to stakeholders. In 2016 alone, two high profile directors were sentenced to 20 and three years respectively for committing fraud against their companies.

According to PWC’s 2016 Global Economic Crime Survey, South African companies’ risk of economic crimes between 2014 and 2016, was around 69%, with asset misappropriation as the main type of crime experienced. As a result of the current recession, South African companies’ risk of economic crimes might increase even further in future.  

In terms of the Companies Act, directors, prescribed officers and committee members have the fiduciary duty to act with the required degree of care, skill and diligence. Executive members who do not act with the required degree of care, skill and diligence, and cause damage to their businesses, can be held civilly as well as criminally liable for the damages to the company.  

Directors, prescribed officers and committee members further have a duty to act in good faith and in the interests of the company, duty to avoid a conflict between their own interests and that of the company, duty not to use their position or information in their possession for personal gain, and the duty to use their position and information in their possession only for the benefit of the company. A director who intentionally does not disclose such a conflict to the board of the company can be held to be both civilly and criminally liable for the damages to the company.

A director, prescribed officer or committee member’s liability is not limited to the company. If they carry on business recklessly, with gross negligence, with the intention to defraud any person or for any fraudulent purpose, they can also be held liable to any other person, such as shareholders and creditors, for their damages.

Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance has become exceedingly important in South Africa, since the executive members of organisations are often held personally liable for lapses in good governance that cause significant damages or losses to stakeholders.

D&O policies cover the executive members’ liability for negligent conduct, their legal costs when defending allegations made by stakeholders regarding wilful misconduct or wilful breach of trust. They also need a fiduciary liability insurance policy, which covers liability in the case that they breach their fiduciary duties. These policies will however not cover any fraudulent, personal gain or wilful misconduct.

A company also needs to insulate itself from liability where governance is concerned. To protect itself against commercial crimes committed by its employees, a business needs to have a commercial crime policy. This will cover the company for dishonest, fraudulent or criminal acts by any employee that results losses for the company. The business would then also need a professional indemnity policy to cover its liability for the negligent acts, errors or omissions of employees in the performance of professional services to external clients.

Finally, stakeholders who contract, invest or conduct business with companies should confirm that the company, directors, board committee members, officers, managers as well as employees, are all insured properly.

It is therefore prudent for a business to ensure that it creates and maintains proper and effective corporate governance to manage its risks effectively, and to ensure that the business is properly covered for its liabilities.

Johannes du Plessis is the Legal Advisor at RBS (Risk Benefit Solutions Pty Ltd).

Why are cohesive teams a key component for business success?

South African businesses of all sizes and across sectors are facing a mammoth task.

They have been forced to grow and achieve scale in an environment characterised by tepid growth, global volatility and ongoing political strife.

As a result, only those businesses with rock solid foundations and smart, united leadership have been able to survive, and in some cases, to thrive.

Now, as leaders brace themselves for continued macro-economic pressure following the recent credit ratings downgrades, it is perhaps valuable to reaffirm the key elements that enable businesses to innovate and achieve scale despite difficult external conditions.

Establish strong and cohesive teams

Within every business, employees are the most valuable and important asset. They should always be viewed as your brand ambassadors, and as such, need to receive ongoing support and guidance for their professional development. In our view, strong teamwork and the ability to collaborate and share ideas around key projects is an essential ingredient for sustainable business success.

It is therefore up to leadership, including managers, to create an environment in which teamwork and collaboration is always encouraged. This may involve creating open workspaces, initiating frequent meetings and conversations, and harnessing technology tools, apps and platforms that foster an atmosphere of open discussion and unity.

Added to this, it is important to provide employees with incentives to learn and to grow. Indeed, every employee should feel that he/she is an essential part of the organisation, and that he/she can progress to new and exciting roles within the business. Every individual needs to feel valuable, challenged and inspired.

Build true partnerships

Moving from an internal focus to an external one, our growth story has highlighted the importance of building and nurturing true partnerships with your clients. This requires a number of things, chief among them being trust – on both sides. As leaders, it is critical to always do what you say, and say what you mean. This means managing expectations from the very beginning of every project, and always having a detailed and clear set of deliverables/outcomes.

Within the sphere of software development, we have realised that instead of merely working with businesses on a once-off or piecemeal basis, it is far more beneficial for both parties to create a long-term partnership that allows for ongoing innovation and improvement. This model is being shaped by the fast pace of technology development (what worked last year is probably already outdated) as well as the need to constantly iterate and innovate – no matter what industry or sector the business/client operates in.

By striving for long-term partnerships, there is naturally also a tendency to ensure that there is more visibility, transparency and honesty across all processes and in every engagement.

Focus on the fundamentals; partner with specialists

In addition to our two core principles of building strong teams and developing true business partnerships, we believe that every business has to keep working on the fundamentals – throughout their growth journey.

This means, for example, always creating an environment where people are inspired and motivated. The workspace is critical to employee engagement, hiring and retaining key talent.

Naturally, every business needs to establish a strong and visible presence in their market through ongoing marketing and communications. Often, this requires partnering with specialists in their respective fields, and recognising where others can do a better job than you.

Finally, always put the customer first. While this has become an overused business term, your business journey is intricately linked to that of your customers. So, for example, when building new platforms or designing new systems and processes, always look for customer feedback and input. These insights can guide and shape business success and sustainability

Julian Weber is the Sales Manager at redPanda Software.

5 SA workplace trends in 2017

South African offices are changing rapidly as the workplace continues to shift from a utilitarian place where you earn your money from nine to five to a much more people friendly, welcoming space where we will spend more than 50% of our time during our working lives.

Below are five workplace trends in South Africa for 2017:

1. The end of fixed workspace layouts

Creating multifunctional community space as well as a diverse selection of areas is becoming increasingly important in order to accommodate constantly changing needs; allowing people to have greater fluidity, mobility and flexibility in the workspace.
This trend can be seen in the form of modular furniture, work benches and sit-stand desks. Communal areas are becoming an important part of the workplace where people can get together for an informal meeting, to simply enjoy a cup of coffee alone or with a college or to collaborate across teams.

2. The modern office: a home away from home

The office fit out is becoming increasingly geared towards creating a more lived in and homey feel.
It’s a home away from home type of scenario. This is created by providing cosy, welcoming lounges, communal canteens, and comfy break out areas.
This ultimately provides for a better working environment allowing for greater employee satisfaction. This trend interlinks with point one above as people now have the option to work in more relaxed, comfortable environments.
Residential furniture is another element that is being used more and more to create that warm, never-want-to-leave-the-office feeling.

3. Private areas

The growing trend towards the open plan office generates the need for private pods/areas, as the open plan concept does not always provide for the best working environment.
Private pods are needed whether it be to have a quiet phone call, meeting or place to work with no distractions. Therefore a combination of spaces is essential in the modern workplace.
Private areas can be innovatively designed telephone booths, sound proof quiet rooms and sound proof space dividers. Increasingly, various new “pods” are being installed in the workplace in South Africa.
Secluded pods allow office workers to meditate, smash things or scream and will be commonplace in two years time.

4. Themed meeting rooms to portray company identity

Themed meeting rooms are becoming important areas for companies to portray their identity, values and what they do.
This may be in the form of wallpaper, graphics, furniture, lighting, or colour.
This allows for each meeting room to take on a certain personality, ultimately making them more interesting and inviting spaces to be in levitra, as well as emphasising the firm’s identity.

5. Play space

Not just for trendy companies like Google any more or start ups burning through cash.
Games such as pool and Ping-Pong are also being brought into the communal areas which allow colleagues to interact with other on a more relaxed level as well as help them to relax.
This trend is growing in South Africa is an effective way to break the office stress cycle and rest the brain.

Emma Leith is the Interior Decorator at Giant Leap.

6 ways to nurture junior women into management roles

As an HR professional, you may be among the first in your organisation to recognise talented young recruits who show the potential to become future leaders.

Making sure they get into those senior leadership roles doesn’t happen by accident though – they need support along the way, which includes things like leadership development, training and mentorship. This is even more important when it comes to grooming women to be potential leaders. Due to historical bias and disadvantages in the workplace, it’s often more difficult for women than men to move up through an organisation into these leadership positions.

As an HR professional, what can you do to ensure that talented young women eventually end up in these key management roles within your company?

Here are six places to start:

1. Understand the blockers

In her 2013 book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”, Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg says that although more corporations today are dedicated to workplace diversity, the lack of women leadership is a cultural problem. One example is the “network” effect, where people tend to hire from within their own network. Most women have a women-only network while men have a men-only network, which means that men are likely to hire other men. And, it’s traditionally men in upper management roles. Understanding the blockers that come with traditional perceptions about leadership is a good way to start ensuring that women in your organisation have as good a chance as men to assume those positions.

2. Recognise that there’s still gender inequality in the home

A study by LeanIn.org and McKinsey on corporate women in the workplace found that even in households where both partners work full time, 40% of women say they do more childcare, and 31% say they do more housework. In many cases, women are juggling this extra workload at home with their work commitments, which can put strain on their work performance and therefore their likelihood of being promoted. Offering things like flexible work policies can help women to balance their personal and professional lives, which improves performance and makes them more likely to be considered for leadership roles further down the line.

3. Make sure management is on board

In her article “the Role of HR in Developing Women Leaders”, London-based executive coach Catherine Cuffley talks about the importance of involving line managers in the overall vision of creating more women leaders. It’s well known that line managers have a huge impact on an employee’s working experience, so Cuffley says it’s important for line managers to support the women in their team in addition to the HR department. This management support leads to a more positive work experience in women that can help instil the confidence they need to eventually lead.

4. Invest in leadership development programmes

While a female employee may display huge leadership potential, it’s crucial that this ability is sharpened and developed in a practical way. An effective way to do this is to create a series of development programmes within your organisation, including mentorship programmes, training and executive coaching from existing senior leaders that nurture and groom these females to take on those roles in future.

5. Encourage women to support each other

Historical differences between how women and men are treated at work can still carry over today, even though we’re in 2017. Creating structures where women can support each other can be very useful in combatting this. For example, consider starting a women’s network within your company, where senior women can network and share skills with younger females who show leadership potential.

6. Make sure their health and wellbeing is taken care of

No matter how talented a young woman is in your company, if she doesn’t take care of her health and wellbeing, she’ll never able to perform optimally. From an HR perspective, you can help encourage healthy habits by offering a comprehensive medical aid, creating in-house lifestyle and wellness incentive programmes, and offering exercise programmes at your workplace for free, or at discounted rates.

Even though most organisations today are striving for equality, it’s an unfortunate fact that young women still face a tougher road than young men to get into key leadership positions. With the proper development, support and nurturing that’s spearheaded by the HR department, you can ensure that talented females you recruit go on to become strong, solid and dynamic leaders in future years.


Provided by Fedhealth.

How South Africa can fast track digital fluency

Key contributing factors to South Africa’s struggle to grow its economy are the ever-increasing talent, skills and equal pay gaps in the workplace.

This is according to the latest study released this week by Accenture, titled Getting to Equal 2017.

The study focuses on the country’s status and attitudes of working men and women, non-working women and undergraduates on the use and acquisition of digital and technology skills, and their perception of gender equality – including pay gap. It also explores the actions businesses, government, academia and women themselves need to take to help women and contribute towards the economic growth.

Actively growing digital fluency can deliver enormous social and economic benefits for South Africa. In addition, our research identifies two other gender pay equalisers – improving career strategies and greater immersion in technology – that also play a significant role in closing the gender gap.

The report shows that the choices young women undergraduates are making now are setting them up to enter the workforce with fewer digital skills, less mentoring advice and lower interest in pursuing high-paying jobs compared with their male counterparts. The report shows two powerful equalisers – in addition to digital fluency – that can help close the pay gap between women and men:

Career Strategy: The need for women to aim high, make informed choices and manage their careers proactively.
Tech Immersion: The opportunity for women to acquire greater technology and stronger digital skills to advance as quickly as men.

The potential impact is profound.

Combining these equalisers could add nearly 100 million women to the global workforce, reduce the pay gap by 35 per cent worldwide and add $3.9 trillion to women’s income by 2030. Working towards a more even distribution of woman across the industries in similar proportion as men would also significantly increase economic output and further boost GDP.

In South Africa, digital fluency and gender equality ranking is currently low. We ranked 21 out of 26 countries. The question is: ‘what actions can we take to turn this around?’ As the Fourth Industrial Revolution ushers in cyber-physical systems, robots, smart connected devices, machine intelligence, analytics, and mobile, social and cloud technologies, digital skills will be a vital to current and future workforces. The challenge is finding the talent pool. Women are a key part of the solution.

The problem is, women only make up 45.2 per cent of the local workforce. Tapping into South Africa’s pool of women would help address the country’s shrinking labour force as well as its employment challenges, increase its growth potential in the medium term, and raise living standards for all.

But women need to become more digitally fluent. A digital workforce is a more ‘adaptive’ workforce – an agile, continuously learning, distributed workforce comprising skills from internal and external talent pools that are often brought together on-demand to address micro tasks or projects using new workforce platforms and online management solutions.

The three accelerators – digital fluency, career strategy and tech immersion – could boost women’s income by 2030 by $3.9 trillion globally, and by $47.2 billion in South Africa, enabling the country to reach parity in 2041, 52 years earlier than anticipated. The gender skills and pay gaps have remained a global challenge for far too long. These gaps are not only hindering women, but business and economic growth in general.

Academia, government and business all have an important role to play in closing these gaps by actively supporting the application of the three equalisers, namely digital fluency, career strategy and tech immersion. By doing so, they can provide the environment, opportunities and role models to lead change.

Gale Shabangu, Inclusion and Diversity lead at Accenture.

Why corporate SA still treats women unfairly

Women are still being treated unfairly at work and at home, even though the topic should have reached maturity by now. And the underlying issue of power is the main driving force behind structural inequality.

Women are eager to work and have as much aspiration as men to advance at work. It therefore seems strange that organisations are so stubborn to adapt in order to recognise the patterns of unequal power relations and to acknowledge the societal impediments that women face.

Once organisations take the realities of women seriously, women and men will be able to participate differently at work bringing their full selves and talents to bear. When employees make it known that they feel that they are being treated unfairly, it takes a thoughtful manager to stop and listen for often in the perceived whine, is a little piece of truth, uncomfortable as it may be.

Fairness is a rather vague and debatable concept which is often swept under the carpet as a non-issue.

The perception of fairness depends on the delicate interplay of socialised norms, cultural values, psychological predisposition and religious convictions. This interplay is couched in power relations, a power that presents itself as subtle and covert. They manifest in inequitable practices that are passed off as ‘the reality’ or ‘the way things work’.

Women are caught up in this power play as they cannot always articulate a different way of being and acting. The way their choices are presented to them seem fixed and unchangeable. A woman may therefore be stuck in merely voicing her dissatisfaction or bearing it. As a result the status quo remains as the power-behaviour is either not conscious, or altering the balance may result in perceived loss of power to those people or institutions that are manifesting the behaviour.

Socialised norms are greatly influenced by repeated behaviour that reinforces the expectations of the particular society or group to which one belongs. And she believes that the sosialisation of girls to be good mothers and wives, which in general is laudable, is probably the most influential, and is in direct conflict with workplace requirements.

The main responsibility for parenting is more often than not placed at the feet of women. South African studies have asserted that it is an accepted norm that men will be both present and absent at home. Their absence, which is reinforced by paternalism, results in an uneven distribution of care-responsibilities.

The good mother norm, which is measured by devotion to and high amounts of time spent on the needs of children as well as the running a well-functioning household, constricts women. Outsourcing childcare allegedly makes one a bad mother and the dutifulness and devotion to a husband’s needs including boosting his status, is presented as a woman’s main focus. Even women that do not have children and single women feel the pressure to conform to these norms.

A woman, with or without children, is therefore measured as either a good mother/wife or an ideal worker — seldom both.

In addition workers are spending more and more time at work and in a demanding competitive culture, overwork has become virtuous.

Whilst organisations may reap the financial benefits from allowing overwork cultures, employees are often caught on a treadmill of ever increasing demands that eventually consume their lives. As women carry the burden of unequal distribution of home and child care, keeping up with the overwork culture becomes exhausting and may eventually lead to the option to opt out of paid work altogether. The argument that they willingly choose to leave is therefore a half-truth – they are often forced out.

Since women do not want to fragment their families by relying on parents and other family members to assist in shouldering the responsibility of care and nurture for their children, they may stop pursing their careers with vigour. These ‘choices’ are hard ones to make and leave women feeling disillusioned and weak. To add insult to injury the inequality between men and women with similar credentials, education and abilities is attributed to a lack of talent, effort or desire on the part of women.

The following steps are recommended for shifting societal norms that penetrate workplace logic:

– Organisations should re-examine workplace structures, recruitment, selection, performance management and promotion to ensure it excludes any form of bias;
– Women should be coached on how to negotiate improved sharing of cialis house and child care with their partners;
– Women should continue to voice their concerns about fairness, and should perhaps be invited to be brave and openly discuss their experiences with their managers;
– Managers in turn should understand the full life context of their employees and be realistic about performance targets and workplace outputs; and
– Places of work may need to be located in areas with low levels of traffic congestion, and community and working from home should be carefully monitored to uncover overwork and eliminate psychological distress.

Anita Bosch is the Professor at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and editor of the 2017 SABPP report Fairness in Relation to Women at Work.

What do you need to consider when hiring leaders?

Companies spend months sourcing top leaders for their executive teams at great cost, yet often these newly appointed leaders fail to perform to expectation, which further impacts on the morale and bottom line of an organisation. In many cases, the fault can be traced back to the hiring brief, which is often informed by outdated ideas of what makes a good leader.
After 20 years sourcing senior leaders, executives and CEOs, we continue to hear the same descriptive words and phrases used time and time again, which points to a common belief system that hiring managers have about what a successful leader looks like.
This includes not just the credentials, but also the physical demeanour and the personality traits of the individual. This belief system comes from an archetypal view around the ‘hero’ image – the one who is going to save the day and lead the team and the organisation forward. It is notable that very few of these commonly held beliefs about the ‘persona’ of a leader are interrogated with actual data.
One of the most common misconceptions about what makes a desirable leader, is that an extrovert is more likely to be successful than an introvert.
The CEO Genome Project, a 10-year study that aimed to identify the specific attributes that differentiate high-performing CEOs, confirmed that boards still think a successful CEO is “a charismatic six-foot-tall white man with a degree from a top university, who is a strategic visionary with a seemingly direct-to-the-top career path and the ability to make perfect decisions under pressure”, the researchers note in Harvard Business Review.

Our findings challenged many widely held assumptions. For example, our analysis revealed that while boards often gravitate toward charismatic extroverts, introverts are slightly more likely to surpass the expectations of their boards and investors.

I have seldom, if ever, had a brief from a board or hiring manager noting a preference for an introverted leader.

In fact, they almost always want someone who is a charismatic extrovert and makes a great personal impression on first meeting. Now we know that an outgoing individual who is great at breaking the ice and generates their energy from external sources – the true meaning of extroversion – is going to be a lot more successful in an interview. But will that person be significantly more successful in the job? Not according to the data.

Yet like clockwork, top quality leaders with incredible track records are being excluded based solely on the fact that they did not come over as charismatic enough during the interview.

Another briefing point requiring careful thought is that of qualifications.

In South Africa, boards and excos are incredibly invested in high level qualifications as a measure of success. While they may not necessarily believe that it’s a predictor of success, they similarly are almost disbelieving that someone with just a basic tertiary qualification could possibly be a successful CEO or executive.

Gone are the days when experience spoke for itself. Yet, if you look at the number of exceptionally successful entrepreneurs who have grown huge, profitable businesses with nothing more than a high school certificate, this proves the fact that an expensive education is not a key driver of success. Of course, education is always an asset, but it is clear that performance is possible without a high-level degree.

Additionally, hiring managers should not be blinded by the glow of an Ivy League degree on a candidate’s CV.

In many cases the ‘right’ degree on a CV adds some kind of ‘WOW’ factor. But it is important to distinguish between ‘really bright academically’ and ‘really successful as a leader’. A degree in no way predicts leadership success, so to use it as a screening criterion doesn’t really make sense.

Ultimately, boards and hiring managers should re-evaluate the list of requirements included in job briefs for leaders, and consider whether there is merit in retaining them. They might inadvertently be screening out the best candidates for the job. In addition, they should not allow glitzy qualifications to override a CV which is less degree-laden, but more substantial in career achievements.

Our best advice to decision-makers in the hiring process is to examine some of their internal belief systems around the ‘perfect’ leader. Ask: ‘Are these valid and why?’. It may be here that new answers emerge, resulting in different recruitment decisions and more successful CEOs.

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat is the CEO of Jack Hammer.

Why lifestyle-focused work environments are not just for millennials

What time do you power down your laptop at night? Look at the plug next to your bed. How many devices are plugged in there? Your answers to these questions have probably revealed you’re at the office more than you’re actually in it, tucking into some bite-sized admin with breakfast at the corner café or catching a quick IM meeting from the back seat of an Uber. Your staff are no doubt doing the same. So, how do you restore work-life balance to encourage happy, healthy and motivated employees when everyone’s overflowing inbox is tagging along home with them? Make them feel at home with a lifestyle-focused work environment.

At the moment, a fundamental shift away from hierarchically designed offices, toward more inclusive, collaborative spaces, is taking place. One major reason for this is the growing platoon of Millennials in the modern workforce. These super-social and adept multi-taskers like open plan coffee-shop style environments, tech bedecked meeting hubs, acoustic pods, and even working from treadmills or barber shop chairs is not an unusual request these days. As a result, more and more companies are starting to mimic the trendy offices of the Googles and Facebooks of the world. But what if that doesn’t align with your brand … and your older staff just can’t comprehend the idea of morning meetings in an indoor treehouse?

Embracing lifestyle-focused work spaces doesn’t mean your office needs to look like a children’s playground. It’s simply about making the office more flexible to your employee and business needs. That means the first step to an ideal workspace is to understand your company requirements, culture and staff. Traders are bound to their workstations, attorneys require privacy, creatives like space to throw ideas around in, and so all the lifestyle-focused workspaces for these kinds of employees will need to be different to efficiently support the way in which they operate. However, there are a few minor changes that we’ve noticed can help to streamline any and every office, improving efficiency while giving it a homey air.

Comfortable soft seating hubs, intimate task lighting, quiet areas, private spaces, warm colour palettes, and the smell of brewing coffee are just a few minor tweaks that make most staff feel at home in the office. But another major stand-out benefit and consideration of lifestyle-focused work spaces is scalability. Lifestyle focused spaces allow for expansion without the costs of a new workstation for each new staff member. Instead, employees may move around an environment, without desk ownership, working from a pod or quiet room, canteen or bar-height collaboration table.

A lifestyle focused workspace that looks and feels more welcoming and comfortable will put your staff at ease, make their work-lives more meaningful and encourage them to invest more passion and drive into a company that is investing in their in-office experience and overall work-life balance. After all, home is where the heart is. Start your journey to a more lifestyle-focused workspace today and get more heart from your staff, as well as a responsive and agile office that changes and grows around you, instead of the other way around.

Robyn Gray is the Associate Director for Tétris South Africa.

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