Women on South African Boards

-Facts, fiction and forward thinking

Diversity in the boardroom makes for more effective and informed decision-making, corporate strategy and governance – but while half the South African population and 45% of the employed workforce are female, only 20% of directors of JSE-listed companies are women.

WDB Investment Holdings (WDBIH) aims to be a catalyst of reform through strategic investments in the corporate sector and the development of women entrepreneurs.

WDBIH understands that women who sit on boards face many challenges, it is on this premise that WDBIH has partnered with the University of Stellenbosch Business School on the Women on South African Board Publication. This report aims to help board members, management teams and the public to understand how South Africa got to this point, and what we can do to change it.

There are five sections to the report:


  • Facts and fiction: This section presents statistics on how many women are on boards, both in South Africa and abroad. The report then explores how statistics can be misleading when taken out of context. The part concludes by debunking five misperceptions about women on boards.
  • True stories: lessons from the rest of the world: This section looks at other countries to determine how quotas and targets have been used to encourage gender parity on boards.
  • The limits of the law: The South African legal framework has two parts. The first looks at the current legislation, the second highlights the gaps in the framework.
  • Forward thinking: getting more women on boards: This section explores what it takes to get more women on boards, and more out of the women that are on boards. It looks at what it takes for women directors to be able to effect change through power, influence and critical mass.
  • Moving forward: turning theory into action: This section explains what we can do to encourage inclusive boards. This includes interventions, critical conversations and lobbying to increase board diversity.
Women on SA Boards Cover