Giving business a feminine voice

WDB Investment Holdings CEO, Faith Khanyile, says a more caring and ‘holistic’ business model is the way of the future.

A Force for Good

Dynamic businesswoman and CEO of WDB Investment Holdings (WDBIH), Faith Khanyile, says that it’s time for corporates to realise that the purpose of business is not just about the bottom line, but that it’s also about ensuring that businesses are involved in the upliftment of communities for the greater good.”

Khanyile is one of the business leaders taking part in the The SheEO SleepOut™ at the Union Buildings on the 8th of August on the eve of National Women’s Day.

“The SHEO SleepOut is all about reaching out and making a difference to the most vulnerable in our society,” she says. “The future of South Africa really is dependent on how it treats its children and the youth – it is all about investing in our future and that is the new bottom line”

Opening the Way

Khanyile feels there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to women in South Africa ‘leaning in’ around the boardroom table.

“It is important to level the playing fields,” she says “because if you look at the representation of women in positions of influence – starting with JSE listed companies at the CEO level, there are probably less than 5% of these positions held by women”.

She says that opening the way for women to play a more active role in business will benefit society as a whole.

“By reducing inequality you are reducing poverty as well because you are supporting women and we know that women really tend to invest more in their families. So, in the future you are going to have more young people being educated and in turn those young people will also contribute to society, so it is a ripple effect – if you invest in a woman you ultimately reap the benefits for the entire nation, you can’t quantify that”, she says.

For Khanyile tackling inequality needs to apply to both formal and informal sectors.

“If we can bring informal businesses closer to the formal sector, and link these businesses to the value chain of the corporates and then provide finance and access to markets as well as on-going mentorship and support – informal businesses can grow to become essential job creators for the country”.

Pushing for Gender Equality

Khanyile says that in addition to her daily CEO role, pushing the women’s agenda is at the top of her list of her personal priorities, and a key driver of the overall WDB mission and vision.

“It is essential to promote women leadership and to advocate for the economic and financial inclusion as well as being a role model and providing mentorship for young women and young leaders.”

She says being a member of organisations like the International Women’s Forum in South Africa (IWF) and ABSIP (The Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals) among others is very important in terms of increasing not only the number of women in financial services, but also in leadership positions as fund managers.

A no-brainer

She is looking forward to taking part in The SheEO SleepOut™ and spending time among her peers.

“For me, taking part is a no-brainer”, she says “The SheEO SleepOut™ is inspirational and the initiative is very close to my heart. It is all about what we stand for at WDB, we stand for uplifting others, we stand for addressing economic inequality and poverty, that is really at the core of what we do and who we are”, says Khanyile.