South Africa

Gender diversity is a leading driver of growth at Adcorp

Vinolia Singh
Chief People Officer
Adcorp Group
3 mins

Extensive research has shown that gender diverse organisations outperform their competitors. This is especially true when diversity starts from the very top at board level. We therefore asked ourselves a simple question: Why would Adcorp not want to reap the benefits of a truly gender diverse organisation? 

Adcorp operates in two geographies, South Africa and Australia. These are countries that have an estimated female population of 51,2% (approximately 30 million) and 50,4% (approximately 12,8 million) respectively. Our stance is therefore two-fold: From an equality perspective, our workforce should be representative of these demographics. From a business perspective, diversity improves the bottom line. 

As a management team, we have embraced the idea that gender diversity in the workplace encourages a different way of thinking and different perspectives, resulting in alternative approaches to resolving business challenges. 

A focused roadmap to achieving a truly diverse business 

Achieving diversity does not happen by accident. We have therefore been intentional in our approach to drive and achieve gender diversity. We aren’t there yet, but we are certainly on the right trajectory. Our chairman of the board is Mrs Gloria Serobe. Four of our 13 board members are female (31%), and four of our nine executive team members are female (44%). Additionally, 49,19% of our entire permanent workforce in South Africa is female, while our Australian business’s female population makes up 62,8% of its permanent workforce. Unfortunately, South Africa has seen a slight decline in the female workforce population, from just over 50% two years ago, and so all of our efforts are currently focused on getting back to that level.

There are other challenges we are facing as well. We are a conglomerate of various businesses as a result of acquisitions over the years. A consequence of this was that each business had its own set of policies. For example, we had businesses offering their female employees a 100% maternity benefit for up to four months, while on the other hand, we had businesses that offered no form of maternity benefit whatsoever. This was very limiting to those female employees who wished to maintain a career and start a family. It was therefore of paramount importance for management to streamline the maternity benefit across the group. 

Another more recent example is the impact of the pandemic on how we operate as a business. Over the past few months we have worked from home and our employees have become accustomed to this flexibility, allowing them to manage their work and home lives more effectively. This has been most prevalent amongst our female employees, who are in many instances mothers, wives and career women. As management, we decided to ask our employees how they see the future of work at Adcorp post the pandemic. Through a survey poll, the majority of our employees chose a flexible work arrangement through a hybrid rotational model as being the optimal future of work. 

We have listened to their perspective and the future of Adcorp is a permanent model that will allow employees to work at the office for two days a week and from home three days per week. This is yet another way to ensure we assist our female employees in overcoming any challenges that might prevent them from reaching their optimal potential. 

The future lies in value creation

We are always cognisant that as a business, we should be focusing on developing the skills and competency of our leaders. We are concentrating our energies on ensuring that female employees are adequately developed to transition through our leadership pipeline and ultimately create opportunities for more women at middle, senior and executive levels of management across our organisation. 

This requires us to focus our efforts to ensure more females are allocated bursaries to advance their studies, as well as encouraging more female participants across our various leadership development programs. This ultimately creates our own internal talent pool of skilled female leaders to take up new positions or be poised for promotions.

Finally, we have created a new Employee Benefits Trust Scheme called AEBT3, which is a share trust scheme that was specifically designed to benefit female employees who are permanently employed across our South African business.

By implementing this trust scheme, Adcorp aims to enable real black economic advancement amongst female employees, be better positioned to compete in the marketplace by having 51% black ownership and 49,39% black women ownership and finally will achieve enhanced employee participation in the future prosperity of the organisation.

AEBT3 has been created to drive value over a period of time. The Proposed BEE Transaction was structured differently to previous transactions in that it is a capital growth structure, which is not share price dependent (Adcorp’s listed share price) and allows Adcorp’s South African subsidiaries to obtain full net equity points over the lifetime of AEBT3. 

This gives Adcorp more certainty and ultimately ensures that the group remains competitive in the South African market, which will eventually be beneficial to the group and its shareholders, including AEBT3 beneficiaries. This transaction ensures that all stakeholders are properly aligned to pursue long term growth and value creation, thereby enabling our female beneficiaries to enjoy financial gain.

Ultimately, if we are going to benefit from a truly diverse workforce across our business, we need to actively focus on empowering women.

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Chief People Officer
Adcorp Group

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