ABSIP WOMENS HIGH TEA 2019 & President Remarks

ABSIP WOMEN’S HIGH TEA 2019 | Western Cape

Venue: Purple Ryan Boutique Hotel
Constantia Hotel. Cape Town.
Date: November 7
Theme: Diverse institutions matter – Building Financial Services Superwomen: Own your path, own your life, own your wealth:

The ABSIP Women in Focus team hosted a High Tea, at the Constantia Purple Rayn Boutique Hotel, that brought together 100 ladies, 8 speakers, 20+ happy feet gumboot dancers, South Africa’s 11-year-old Hip Hop Gold Medallist and the African Scholars Fund.

Dr Retselisitsoe Matlanyane, the Governor of the Central Bank of Lesotho, delivered the keynote address at the 2019 ABSIP Women in Focus High Tea. Her address inspired both young and mature ladies across the Financial Services Sector.
Her story was a special one and she left everyone in attendance with a different toolset with which to approach life, work and home.

The Governor came across as an authentic and well-balanced leader. Her calm nature was befitting of a leader who needs to manage the stresses of a country, the country’s finances and also the spending traits of politicians. In her keynote address she spoke of “soft being the new hard” and instead of seeking absolute power, one should seek the power to do things. Dr Matlanyane possesses a rare quality. It is a level of calmness that comes with maturity and it is not necessarily a trait that can be taught, but rather a trait which comes with years of experience and time.

The event also hosted the supreme league, five superwomen in asset management. Tarryn Sankar, the Head of Listed Credit from Futuregrowth Asset Management, Bernisha Lala, Portfolio Manager from Old Mutual Investment Group, Zahira Osman, Part Business Owner and Portfolio Manager from Afena Capital, Unathi Loos, Portfolio Manager from Investec Asset Management and Yonela Makwethu, Portfolio Manager from Sanlam Multi-Managers. The panel showcased their years of experience and what it takes to make it in asset management.

The CFA Society of South Africa was represented by Ms Mica Townsend. Her clear initiative was to improve the number of female CFA enrolments and CFA accreditations. Her concise explanation of the cost (+/-$1000 p/annum), time commitment (+/-300 hours p/annum of studying) and the relevance of a CFA Designation in the industry today highlighted the true requirements to escalate the number of female CFA Charter holders.

Last but not least, the ladies were entertained by two extraordinary dance acts. Happy Feet Gumboot dancers, a community youth project, run out of Langa, for the upliftment of children and Mika Wyngaard, South Africa’s 11 year gold medallist, in Hip Hop, who represented South Africa and placed in the semi-finals on the world stage, in Amsterdam, in October.

ABSIP would like to thank its five phenomenal sponsors this year, the CFA Society of South Africa, Futuregrowth Asset Management, Old Mutual Investment Group, Prescient Investment Management and Afena Capital. Our sponsors share in and support the goals of AWIF (ABSIP Women in Focus) which seeks to empower and advance black women in the workplace.

ABSIP President Remarks

Programme Director
Governor of the Central Bank of Lesotho, Dr Retselisitsoe Matlanyane;
Members of the ABSIP Western Cape Provincial Executive Committee;
Fellow ABSIPers;
Ladies and gentlemen.
Good afternoon.

GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

I know that we are having high tea in a City where gender-based violence bedevilling South Africa reared its ugly head not long ago, when a young woman, Uyinene Mrwetyana, was killed when she visited a local post office to simply collect a parcel.

While we deplore gender-based violence, let us also pay tribute to women who, despite the odds, have climbed the corporate ladder, as proof that gender equality and empowerment were catalysts of economic prosperity.

PROUD I AM WITH OUR AWIF

At the outset, let me state how proud I am of our ABSIP Women in Focus (AWIF).
AWIF identifies and supports a pipeline of aspiring young women to become future leaders of the financial services industry.

At ABSIP we believe that both women and men must join hands to mentor, coach and sponsor women because that is what smart and hard-working women require to move up the career ladder. They are educated, intelligent, capable and committed, and just need that extra support from both women and men to make a greater impact at the workplace and in society.

Thank you Governor Matlanyane for accepting the invitation to speak on the theme “Diverse institutions matter– Building Financial Services Superwomen: Own your path, own your life, own your wealth.”

DIVERSITY IS A MORAL ISSUE

To ABSIP, diversity is a moral issue, an economic issue, and a broad societal issue. It is about our identity as the Rainbow Nation. We live in a wonderful and diverse country. The richness of this country is the result of an amalgamation of cultures, classes and influences. Our members are able to realise the best within the financial services sector from that same experience. I have not only seen it but have personally lived it. So I know for a fact that this statement “Diverse institutions matter” is true. So, it is more than an employment issue.

In terms of our sector, it is about understanding the importance of inclusiveness in expanding the pool of available talent beyond its traditional limitations, while at the same time maintaining standards of excellence. I am sure it is the same in Lesotho.

Today’s rapidly changing workplace is far removed from the traditional environment of apartheid yester-year, and the financial services sector is no exception. The current workforce is made up of individuals of different sexes, races, ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs. There are more women in the workplace than men, yet the majority of those walking the corridors of the C-Suite are men.

MEANING OF DIVERSE

The word “diversity” literally means “variety, assortment, range.” It does not merely mean “differences.”
In my personal experience as a black professional, I have had a positive experience in what I would call a diverse work environment.

In the workplace, diversity is defined as “committing to combat discrimination based on race, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, creed, colour, religious background, national origin, language origin, or disability.”

The success of diversified employment begins not with its definition, but with identifying why diversity is important in the workplace and the overall institution.

For some people, diversity is imagined as being racial or ethnic in nature. However, diversity also includes the many other identity components such as social class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, faith, background, language – that makeup who each of us is as a multicultural being.
I know that there is the argument that human beings tend to naturally gravitate toward those like them, and tend to categorise or stereotype those who are different.
I know that most people develop preferences or biases over time, but we cannot allow them to interfere with our professional judgment and management decisions.
It is a pity that at the lowest levels of workplaces across the globe, more than half of the employees are women, but as you move up the organisational ladder, the number of women drops dramatically.

In fact, at the very top of the tree, as few as 4% of organisations’ leaders are female. There are lots of discussions and claims out there about the way in which leadership between men and women differs. We have been made to believe that, traditionally, women are nurturing, empathetic and emotional.
How do these traits and qualities translate into the world of business and leadership? Do they set us back or do they drive us forward? I hope that the panel will unpack this to some extent.

ONE HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

One Harvard Business Review survey looked at 16 key competencies that make a good leader (including taking initiative, developing others, and inspiring and motivating colleagues). Women rank higher than men in the so-called ‘nurturing’ competencies, such as building relationships.
Women were rated higher than men in 12 of the 16 competencies and were rated overall better leaders by their peers.

When it comes to two of the traits – taking initiative and driving for results – men are often assumed to be better at these, but it was women who topped the poll.
The truth is women are often underestimated in the world of business. They face sexism, exclusion and veiled oppression in the workplace, and are sometimes engulfed by a lack of self-belief. It is this self-belief that we must work on, more than ever before, to ignite women’s potential. Tradition places men at the top of organisational structures but the tide is changing … slowly but surely…and yes it has to keep on changing.
Studies like this, and many more, prove that people within business rate women as strong leaders.

The key to a diverse workforce which recognises women starts with management. This, in turn, creates a successful environment, because employees from diverse backgrounds provide different ideas and experiences that contribute to innovative solutions and services that can appeal to a diverse audience.
Therefore, organisations need the benefits of diversity in order to leverage our similarities and appreciate our differences.

Recognising and accepting workplace diversity helps people to respond to the fact that our society and our workplace has changed since the dark days of apartheid, and that we must change along with it.

AVOID DISCRIMINATORY HIRING PRACTICES

Our sector is required by law to avoid discriminatory hiring practices. Management also needs to understand that diversity can be an advantage that can improve and benefit their companies and employees, by making the workplace more productive and more profitable. It is simply in the best interest of all concerned to value and respect other people regardless of their background.

It is absolutely clear that we have to manage a diverse workforce right now, and much more so in the future. South African businesses will not be able to survive if we and they do not embrace a diverse workforce. A company that gets out in front of managing diversity will have a competitive edge.

I look forward to the panel discussions which I am certain will highlight how diversity brings different skill sets, knowledge, ideas, and experience to the table; how to execute it; how it produces better results for business; and how it leads management to understand what needs to happen to reach those results.
Let me end with a quote by that phenomenal woman, Maya Angelou when she said: “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a b…t. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”

I thank you and good afternoon.

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