Every August, new initiatives are launched to promote the empowerment and development of women—with many of them disappearing equally quickly. To be effective, development programmes need to be viewed holistically according to Angela Oosthuizen, newly appointed CEO of the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoDSA).
“We would like to encourage both professional associations and companies to adopt a holistic approach that aims to elevate women to a new professional level, and so contribute to greater gender diversity in business, the boardroom and society as a whole,” says Oosthuizen. “We need to turn the development of women from an August flash in the pan to a conveyor belt of new talent.”
The IoDSA is working with a variety of identified stakeholders to help design and deliver a programme that embodies such a holistic approach. The programme aims to broaden and deepen the pool of female talent available for non-executive board positions.
“We have seen studies recently confirming that board diversity dramatically increases the value that boards contribute to organisational performance,” says Oosthuizen. “However, we can’t keep tapping into the same set of resources when it comes to finding female non-executive directors. We have to expand access to existing talent and groom new talent.”
Oosthuizen emphasises that potential candidates are readily available, and can often be found via the professional associations to which they belong. These women would obviously have qualifications and experience in their current disciplines, such as engineering, accounting and so on—what’s needed is a way to help them elevate or evidence their director competencies and, ultimately, obtain the coveted Chartered Director, or CD (SA), designation.
“To do this in a sustained and sustainable way, we have created a model one could call the ‘circle of engagement’,” explains Oosthuizen. “We take a holistic approach that begins by providing knowledge via training, testing it via assessment and then practising how to use it via simulation.”
Thereafter, a personal development plan can be created for each woman and matched to continuous professional development and ongoing mentoring. To close the circle, it’s important to map progress towards the stated goals.
“Throughout, candidates can be supported via their membership of the professionals associations relevant to directorship, such as the IoDSA,” Oosthuizen concludes.
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