SA is full of untapped female talent that could unleash the potential of its tech sector
By Isme Oosthuizen
WOMEN remain a largely untapped resource in South Africa’s technological talent pool. The statistics do not lie: there are only 56,000 women occupying 236,000 positions in information and communication technologies (ICT) in the country. It’s 23 percent.
We’re doing even worse in emerging tech roles, such as cloud computing, data, and AI, with just 14% female participation in business cloud computing and 28% in data and AI.
Perhaps of even more concern is the lack of female talent filtering down the pipeline. For every two women who earn a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related degree in South Africa, five men are heading into industry.
These numbers are an alarm signal. They point to a smaller pool of female talent – and a clear need to encourage girls to pursue careers in tech, as well as to improve female representation in the workplace to unlock the potential of the tech sector in the world. ‘South Africa and the economy in general.
Research has shown that greater gender diversity boosts performance and leads to higher productivity and profits. BCG’s own research on women leaders in tech found that even adding a single woman to a company’s board or management team shows an increase in return on assets. between 8 and 13 basis points, while organizations where 30% of leaders are women 15 percent increase in profitability.
Another study found that companies that make effective use of female talent are 45% more likely to report an improvement in their market share.
However, the question of how women are represented in a typically masculine environment is part of a larger conversation around the importance of diversity. Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is increasingly becoming a business imperative because of the value it adds to the bottom line: Cognitively diverse teams solve problems 60% faster and improve financial performance.
It was found that companies with greater than average total diversity have both 19 percentage points more innovation revenue and 9 percentage points more EBIT margin (earnings before interest and taxes).
Move from awareness to action
What this illustrates is that today’s businesses need to move from awareness to action by creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces. Being diverse and inclusive means bringing together different types of thinking and talent to drive innovation and creative problem solving through diverse perspectives.
But more than that, it means creating an enabling environment where people are able to do their best because they feel their point of view and their voices are heard and valued. And this is particularly important in South Africa.
The South Africans surveyed for our Decoding Global Ways of Working study, in partnership with The Network and local affiliate CareerJunction, were found to be more diversity-conscious than the global average. Eighty-two percent of South Africans said diversity and inclusion had become more important to them over the past year, compared to 68.7 percent globally.
Diversity and inclusion were also particularly important to the country’s young people, with 87% of them saying that D&I had become more important to them in the past year. Half of South African respondents overall would even refuse to work for an employer who does not match their beliefs in this area.
The growing value of diversity and inclusion is bolstered by a BCG 2021 Most Innovative Companies report, which showed that top 50 companies tended to display greater gender and ethnic diversity in their businesses. leadership. This also included leaders in the technology sector, such as Microsoft, Alibaba and Cisco.
All of these are examples of the paramount importance of prioritizing diversity, especially in the tech sector.
Diversity will only become more critical for businesses in the future – and it will become non-negotiable for businesses to actively show that we are working to create workplaces that are both diverse and inclusive, and that bridge the gaps that exist. currently. .
Isme Oosthuizen is Associate Director at BCG Platinion
* The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the IOL or the titles sites