SA companies more progressive when hiring women

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SA employers are more progressive when hiring women of a child bearing age despite the fact that companies abroad continue to discriminate.

Debbie Goodman, MD of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters who places many of the top executives in SA’s leading corporations, says last year 37% of all her senior management placements were female. Of this, 26% were at exco level, all of whom had families.

Goodman says overseas recruiters paint an extremely different picture. A recent survey conducted in the UK indicated that 75% of recruitment agencies polled were aware of businesses that blacklist young women of a child bearing age.

The survey revealed that more than 1 in 10 of these agencies said pressure from employers had meant that they did not put pregnant women, or those likely to have children, forward for a job.

"At middle management levels, very few of the women placed had families, but all were of child-bearing age. These candidates are highly likely to go on to have children and, hopefully, to continue to move up into top corporate jobs, with their families in tow.

"Child bearing age remains something that goes through every hiring manager’s head and, as headhunters, we are often required to act as a buffer in the screening process. This does however seem to be more prevalent in smaller, newer companies, which don’t have the means to accommodate a top member of staff on maternity leave or to risk them leaving the company altogether in favour of rearing a family.'

"In my experience, the majority of women who do make it to the top in SA’s corporate world are high achievers who are more than able to balance a family and career.

"Fortunately or unfortunately many women, especially in South Africa still feel they need to justify their existence in the corporate world. They often go "all out’ in an attempt to prove themselves and outdo their male colleagues, especially in a male dominated corporate environment. One finds corporate women far harder pressed then corporate men, in spite of their family commitments.'