According to a 2011 International Business Report published by Grant Thornton, 23 percent of companies in the private sector are completely without female representation in senior management - a concerning statistic considering that women bring a completely different style of management into the work environment. Indeed, skills such as task-orientation, empathy and evaluation are necessary to any company's ability to perform at its best.
Founded, owned and run entirely by women, XP² is playing its part in bringing a feminine touch to the marketing industry in South Africa. Operational for the past two and a half years, the company was established by Director, Shantel Bassanna with a view to providing clients with service delivery in experiential marketing. Since its establishment, the company has experienced year-on-year growth of 45 percent, while tripling its workforce and expanding its reach to Durban and Cape Town.
Bassanna is careful to note that the challenges faced by women in the business environment are no different to those faced by men - women in leadership are fulfilling exactly the same corporate role as men, they simply have additional challenges enforced by their domestic responsibility. As one might expect, women bring an entirely new perspective and different set of skills to the business world. "Women in leadership often excel at evaluation, because we have a greater tendency to consider the emotive ramifications of our decisions. Where corporate entities have previously been concerned about the role of women in the home affecting her performance in the work place I believe the demands of her personal life can offer positive benefits in the work place as they influence decision making," maintains Bassanna. "Our thought processing allows us to combine intuitive and logical thinking in a seamless manner."
Aside from their cognitive abilities, women also bring a greater level of people skills into the workplace. Psychological studies show that women are often better at interacting with their colleagues. They have a greater capacity to absorb emotional energy and then process it - they have greater empathy.
As Bassanna points out, women tend to take on highly supportive roles through the mentorship and training of their colleagues. Female leaders have the ability to boost their employees, unlocking their potential, and empowered employees are the ones who deliver, benefitting the company in the long-run. "The understanding of each staff member as an individual and the identification of their strengths and weaknesses is instrumental to maximising their potential and uplifting them," she explains. To this end, Bassanna prioritises time spent with the XP² team, committed to assisting each employee with their individual growth.
With a team comprised solely of women, there is a great deal of empathy at XP² that is based on common ground. Hence the flexibility of the organisation enables employees to create a healthy work-life balance without sacrificing either family or career.
Whilst women-led companies such as XP² are on the increase, there is hope that the business world will gradually evolve into a well-rounded environment that promotes optimal development of employees.
About the author
Shantel Bassanna is the co-founder and Managing Director of XP², a leading experiential marketing company. The business is centred on objective-driven, engaging, memorable and creative in-and-out-of-store activations that deliver exponential return on marketing investment.
With a natural flair for operations management, Bassanna's business acumen has grown XP²'s national footprint that sees the company operating out of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
Under her guidance, XP² offers short learning modules in addition to campaign specific training which includes basic promoter training and etiquette as well as sales technique training. Shantel believes in creating brand teams based on client requirements.
Her vision for the company is one based on achievement and excellence. Bassanna believes that these traits are not one dimensional and cannot occur in isolation, they are dynamic objectives that come from determination, vision and hard work.
XP² has worked on many successfully experiential marketing campaigns on leading local and international brands. Her team approaches each campaign with holistic integration and performance based outcomes.
Bassanna has built XP²'s reputation on excellence, transparency and superior service. Through careful analysis and forward thinking she believes in providing the best experiential opportunities for FMCG brands.