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Rondaby | SA’s First Black Women Bank CEO and My Male Privilege Case

The Bank of Africa Board has some questions to answer.The board had already lied to its shareholders, the South Africans, when they made a statement that their former CEO was leaving to pursue other career opportunities. Masu Ron Derby..


I’m the black man at the table who, through years of assimilation, has learned to adapt to virtually any environment. In other words, I want to think. Whether we talk about last week’s Sharks-Bulls rugby match, the possibility of duopoly, the less stellar Soweto derby, or even another Arsenal defeat, I’m joking with the best of them. I can.

It happens pretty naturally, my accent rolls off my tongue to fit everything, depending on which table I’m sitting on.

Many of us play this game in our daily lives when we’re still looking for a small acre in a luxury corporate space dominated by white men. In these spaces where you have to compromise yourself to the extent that you depend on how close you are to real power, I’m convinced of one thing-black women, and to a lesser extent white Women don’t fit perfectly.

As a middle-aged man, it was my eternal discomfort to discuss frivolous sports issues, economic conditions, and our “bad politics” at a table where she couldn’t hear much. saw. Of course, my own idea of ​​selfish progress in a country where transformation is at a standstill may have been more important than any awkward feelings. I think this is true for many black men who built their careers and saved their fortunes in South Africa’s first empowerment deal, which was all the rage at the turn of the century.

When I thought about Basani Marlake, who resigned as CEO of the Bank of Africa last week, I thought about my privileges. At the young age of 44, she occupies that position in the context of this country was not important.

Women can make up more than half of the working-age population, but they do not appear in corporate boardrooms. Of the top 40 companies in JSE, only one female CEO is. It’s Natascha Viljoen from Anglo American Platinum, which just started last April.

According to a PwC report, about 95% of all JSE CEOs were men, 87.2% of the Chief Financial Officer was men, and 91% of executive directors were men. A total of 19 women hold executive positions at JSE listed companies, and only 6% of the 329 CEOs are women. As you can imagine, the numbers are a desperate story and a tragic story for black women.

When news was reported that Maluleke was leaving to pursue “other career opportunities,” I checked the news feed to see if the country’s major lenders were calling. In all accounts, as an executive, she played a leading role in the resuscitation of banks led to the abyss by the reckless management of former CEO Leonidas Kirkinis. So why would she leave only three years in her role and choose a more environmentally friendly meadow? Unfortunately, a personality clash with the recently appointed chairman of the African Bank, Tabo Doroti, seems to have ultimately been the reason for her sudden departure.

For me, this was mostly confirmed in an interview she conducted at the Business Times last weekend. She said she was just on vacation and there was no way to advance her career.

“I’m disappointed that I couldn’t see a turnaround in the organization, but I think the business is going well,” she said.

As quoted in the same story, Doroti, who was appointed chairman in 2019, said that the banking transformation since leaving curatorship five years ago cannot be attributed to a single leadership process. Pointed out to. He said the process had begun before. It came across a pretty mean thing, and in fact it was a pretty mean see-off.

Today, boardroom politics and a bit of tension are commonplace in any company or organization. I understand this. This is especially true for Doroti’s relatively new president. After rudely resigning as Liberty CEO almost four years ago, I need to prove a bit.

In most cases, I even suggest that some tension is good, as it keeps everyone on the toes. However, for a functioning board, or at least attentive shareholders (in this case the South African Reserve Bank and Public Investment Corporation), a personal conflict between the non-executive chair and its CEO can affect operations. Never forgive. I’m not a governance expert, but in my understanding, the chair’s only interaction should be with the company’s secretary and board colleagues at quarterly meetings. Unless you are running a ship along the lines of a state-owned enterprise. In state-owned enterprises, routes have long been blurred or rather disappeared.

If the clash of personalities did lead to the expulsion of Marlake, I think the Bank of Africa’s board has some questions to answer. The board was finally lying to their shareholders, the South Africans, when their former CEO made a statement that he was leaving to pursue other career opportunities.

Whether she understood it or not, Marlake always represented far more in the context of a country working on change. I suspect that the Droti-led board of directors, including the company’s secretary, who has only two women, paid some respect. Their claim is probably that it’s a business. But it’s not perfect. Context is always important, especially in our historic country. You just can’t hope for it.

I pondered this question several times. How much responsibility does a black, always male-led entity have to ensure deeper change? Do men like Patrice Mozepe and Saki Makozoma and executives like Doroti have more responsibilities than projects like Johann Rupert?

The simple answer is that if you care and wake up at a slow pace of change, at least one night, all these men, including managers like me, are responsible for it. If you don’t mind, what happened to Marlake is pretty pointless. The African Bank, its Doroti-led board, and its shareholders are certainly clear about their feelings, and black women continue to pay the highest price to maintain the privilege they don’t care about.

Rondaby | SA’s First Black Women Bank CEO and My Male Privilege Case

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