A+ A A-

Another decade of “more of the same" in CEO roles

Rate this item
(0 votes)
Another decade of “more of the same" in CEO roles

SA’s top management is set for at least another decade of slow transformation, with very few new faces representing diversity in terms of race and gender expected until at least 2015.


“While top companies are increasingly ensuring that their general workforce reflects the country’s demographics – in line with both ethical and legal requirements - the faces at the very top will continue to look the same for many years and, more likely, even the next decade,” says Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, MD of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters.


“Trends show a continued aversion to risk on the part of boards, even when boards themselves reflect the diversity of the country, and this approach is not expected to change anytime soon.”


Commenting on findings contained in the first  Jack Hammer Executive Report, which takes an unflinching look at the facts around SA’s top executives in the Top 40 (by market capitalisation) and Broad 40 companies (leading businesses from the wider industry), Goodman-Bhyat said: “There is a group of emerging talent at executive level which is much more representative of the country’s demographics. One would have already expected to see them occupy the top jobs, however we predict that it will take at least a decade, possibly longer, before these new faces start occupying the C-Suite en masse.”


Goodman-Bhyat says making the CEO appointment is one of the most intricate decisions facing boards, especially in an age where accountability and transformation are crucial. Yet time and time again, the CEO role remains untransformed.


“There is a mould of what leadership looks like, and we keep using the same mould. Risks are rarely taken, and experiments left for where the potential damage of a false move will be limited,” she says.


“These actions should not necessarily be ascribed to an unwillingness to change, but rather simply an aversion to the risk associated with shifting toward a different paradigm.”


Goodman-Bhyat says achieving true transformation in the most senior positions is taking longer than expected - in spite of quotas, charters and all the policies designed to address historical discrimination.

And the racial breakdown – of 85% white representation and 15% black – in the top jobs, is not only reflective of the situation in the Top 40 companies. In fact, in the Broad 40, the situation looks even bleaker, at 88% white representation.


“The lack of transformation therefore cannot simply be ascribed to being indicative of a scarcity of skills,” says Goodman-Bhyat.


She says that the challenge to the status quo is only expected to arrive in about a decade, as the current crop of emerging black and female leaders are still in their 30s and 40s.


“We will only start to see them lead companies when they are in their late 40s and early 50s. Boards demonstrate a continued aversion to risk, remaining conservative in order to manage downside risk. While diversity is top priority on annual reports, shareholders want tried and tested leaders and companies are simply not willing to compromise on experience.


“And there is no short-circuiting of time to gain the depth of experience today’s big bosses gained over years of earning their stripes and accumulating their battle scars.


“We are seeing more diverse executive teams, for sure. And especially in HR, marketing and finance, there are many more female and black leaders emerging. However these leaders are not yet getting the green light to enter the corner office.


“For now it remains clear that the business imperatives of transformation and diversity are nowhere near as much of an imperative as the financial bottom line.”

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat

Debbie entered the field of recruitment in 1998 with a financial services headhunting firm, and within one year she was one of the top billers in executive search in SA. In 2000 she established her own executive search firm, diversified the industry focus, and then partnered with Fusion Consulting in 2001. As the founder and Managing Director of JACKHAMMER, she is an industry-leading headhunter, placing top executives in SA's leading corporates for more than eight years. Her unique style and vision may come from her somewhat unconventional background as an award-winning contemporary dance choreographer, director and dancer! Now, as an entrepreneur in the business world, she maintains her passion for work and relentless drive to get it right.

Website: www.jhammer.co.za

Leave a comment

The SA Leader Magazine

The SA Leader July14 Cover300px

In the July issue

To become a great leader, you must become a great communicator

Is South Africa ready for Big Data?

How to choose the right leadership coach



Copyright © 2014 gdmc (Geoffrey Dean Marketing Corporation cc). All rights reserved. Material may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy. External links are provided for reference purposes. SALeader.co.za is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.

Login or Subscribe