The Business Women's Academy, the first of its kind in the country concentrating on women in business, was launched by USB Executive Development Ltd (USB-ED) of the University of Stellenbosch Business School, in association with HERS-SA, on Tuesday, 22 May 2007. HERS-SA is a leading non-profit organisation dedicated to the advancement of women.
The guest speaker at the launch was Prof Laetitia van Dyk (middle), who is also the newly appointed Director of the Leadership Centre at the USB. With her are Willemien Law of USB-ED and Sarah Riordan of HERS-SA.
The first activity of the Business Women's Academy will be a five-day, interactive, professional development seminar for business women in southern Africa taking place from Sunday 21 to Friday 26 October 2007. It is aimed at women currently employed at senior management level, or possessing the potential to develop to that level.
The Academy provides a unique opportunity for women to utilise and “shape” the programme to suit their development needs. Each morning the delegates will hear high-profile plenary speakers chosen for their expertise. Afternoons will be devoted to professional development workshops pre-selected by the delegates. Evening dinners serve as networking opportunities enhanced by the contributions of inspirational women who will share their life and career stories.
Willemien Law, head: Open Programmes at USB ED says: “The Academy will provide women with the opportunity not only to grow their academic knowledge, but also to network and share their career stories with other women facing the same challenges in business. As USB-ED and HERS-SA, we wish to become the learning partner of women in business, and this Academy is one avenue through which we can stimulate debate and discussion around leadership and management.”
Prof Laetitia van Dyk, the guest speaker at the breakfast launch and head of the USB's Centre for Leadership Studies and former HR director of UK Retail Banking for Barclays PLS, highlighted the current situation of women in business.
“According to the latest census of the Businesswomen's Association on women in corporate leadership, state-controlled enterprises are doing much better than JSE-listed companies as far as transformation on the basis of gender is concerned. This census notes that although women make up 42,9% of our working population, only 13,1% of all directors, 4,3% of chairpersons of boards, and 2,6% of CEOs are female.”
She also said that a writer in the magazine Finweek
, in commenting on the results of last year's census of women in corporate leadership, had noted the rather strange situation that it seemed easier for women in South Africa to become directors or chairpersons of boards than CEOs.
Since 2001 USB-ED has been delivering high-quality non-degree management, leadership and specialist programmes as public (open) or company-specific, tailor-made courses. Organisational development and coaching form part of the USB-ED offering.
HERS-SA, a registered voluntary association, is a managed network, formed to address the critical shortage of women in senior positions in the Higher Education (HE) sector in South Africa. HERS-SA has earned its reputation via its highly successful Academy for Women in Higher Education, that attracts over 80 women from across Africa annually.