South Africa has made incredible progress since the dawn of democracy, but it’s time for the country’s women to “take action” and claim their rightful place in emerging markets.
Acclaimed author and leading expert on developing women in emerging markets, Rania Anderson said the time for South African women to effect change in the country’s economy is now.
“In South Africa, you talk about deep, complex matters. You speak freely about racial injustice and inequality - topics women in the US shy away from. This makes you strong,” Anderson said.
Anderson is currently touring South Africa promoting her latest book – Undeterred: The Six Success Habits of Women in Emerging Markets. As part of her research, she interviewed 250 women from developing nations around the world, including India, China, Russia and South Africa, with one question in mind: how do some women succeed in countries where the working environment is not always welcoming or easy for women?
The results following her research indicated that successful women in emerging economies have one trait in common – they are undeterred.
“Undeterred women don’t just go to work and survive the experience, they learn how to prosper and excel in their roles. Undeterred women don’t allow challenges to stop them. Of course women working in growth economies feel discouraged, it’s only natural. But they don’t give in and they don’t give up,” she said.
She said while South African women shouldn’t be too concerned with solving every problem that exists in the country, they should “take a step forward” and play an integral part in making a difference.
“Start with what you are good at, leverage your strengths and make a difference. If you want to get ahead you have to create some results and talk to people about those results.”
“Take action and cause a ripple effect of change, you don’t have to solve every problem, but you have the power to do something about it,” she said.
Anderson also encouraged the crowd to make mistakes and to fail, adding that it’s all part of achieving success in the long run.
“You should do the happy dance upon failure - as long as the problem can be identified and an improved plan of action can be put in place, failure is good.”
Anderson cited confidence and competence as two of the key drivers to achieving success in emerging economies, adding that it’s now time for women to rid themselves from the negative thinking and rejecting and discouraging words that surround them.
“Without confidence your habits will be as unsteady as a house built without a foundation. Without confidence everything you do will struggle,” she said.
Liz De Wet, who runs a programme on Women in Leadership at the UCT Graduate School of Business, agrees that a strong, confident leadership presence is crucial for women in business and government.
“There are many reasons why women succeed in leadership, but one thing that they appear to have in common is confidence,” she said. The Women in Leadership programme at the UCT GSB focuses on developing women leaders and building confidence. One of the programme’s main aims is to teach women how to stand up and stand out, De Wet said.
Anderson was speaking at a special event at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, (UCT GSB) in conjunction with the school’s Executive Education Department and Women in Business Society. Business Engage, a South African organisation at the forefront of strategic thinking and gender mainstreaming was instrumental in cementing her visit to the country.
“This is your time, as women in an emerging economy. It’s your time to stand up, empower yourselves to speak up and put yourselves forward for traditionally male orientated roles,” Anderson told a packed auditorium.