Female representation in business has long been a source of debate in the
market, especially in traditionally male-dominated industries such as the auditing
and accounting Industry.
However, wellness experts and service providers focused on people
development believe there has been significant progress made in addressing
imbalances - evident, particularly, in the rise of women-owned and managed
With the focus of the market on expected startup influence and projected
growth in numbers of startup operations, there is now a concerted effort to help
build the profile of women in the workplace.
Martina Laurie, a Chartered Accountant by profession, is the CEO of mobile
massage and wellness services specialist company Hands On Treatment and an
example of how one woman decided on a complete change in career and grew a
successful commercial enterprise within an entirely different sector.
The Company provides on-site neck and shoulder chair massage service to
the corporate sector, covering specialised labour-intensive areas such as call
centres, events and exhibitions, amongst others.
It has been a Proudly South African member since 2003 and in 2007
received the Proudly South African best SMME Service award.
In April 2014, Laurie won the Women-Owned Enterprise Award at the 2nd
Annual South African Premier Business Awards.
This was in recognition for her achievement and proven success in
establishing a fully-fledged business and also for the impact she has had via her
skills development and training programme, primarily aimed at young women.
Hands On Treatment?s established in-house training programme has been
running for ten years. It also has a partnership in place with the Services SETA
(Sector Education and Training Authority). According to the terms of the
partnership the Authority pays a portion of their salary per intern and Hands on
Treatment takes in four candidates as trainee therapists per six-month period.
Applicants are predominantly urban women living in informal settlements
located within a 20km radius of Craighall, Johannesburg, as well as city centre
To date the Company has assisted over 500 women with skills acquisition
and employment over a 12 year period. Their employment strategy is focused on
the youth and most of the therapists employed are under the age of 35.
"We can say with confidence that there are measures in place and hard
work being done to address the need for greater levels of female representation
across key sectors,' says Laurie. "Our job is to facilitate skills development to
further enhance the process of empowerment.'