Women still face barriers that delay their upward mobility in organisations. This study aims to examine whether women experience critical mass as sufficient to shift deep…
Women still face barriers that delay their upward mobility in organisations. This study aims to examine whether women experience critical mass as sufficient to shift deep level discursive dynamics, theorised as an (in)visibility Vortex.
A qualitative method was used to collect and analyse data on the lived experiences of 16 board-level female leaders who have been appointed to male-dominated boardrooms in South Africa.
The findings confirm that numeric representation is too simplistic to resolve deep level gendered dynamics. At a personal level: self-confidence, a bigger purpose and competence-experience were found to be counter-forces to Vortex. The role of the chairperson was also crucial.
Organisations must be reminded that even where the number of women on a board has reached beyond a critical mass, hidden barriers still exist. When developing women leaders, practitioners need to penetrate below the surface to appreciate the undercurrents and address them at that level. Organisations need to nurture the personal attributes that counter the forces of the Vortex. Mentorship, sponsorship and coaching may be beneficial. The role of the chairperson is especially important in disrupting deep level dynamics. Chairpersons need to be more deliberate and proactive to refute behaviours that exclude and undermine women’s full participation.
Contrary to the (in)visibility perspectives, the women in this study did not “withdraw” or “conceal” their gender when “exposed” in male-dominated boardroom dynamics. Reasons for this are explored including the potential for further research on the construction of a “trailblazing” identity.
The main teaching objective for the case is for students to build a better understanding of how to advance women (and other minorities) in the workplace through…
The main teaching objective for the case is for students to build a better understanding of how to advance women (and other minorities) in the workplace through mentorship. This is achieved through recognizing the wide variety of issues that enable and constrains women’s advancement in the workplace; defining mentoring, sponsorship, coaching and networking; and highlighting how mentoring, sponsorship, coaching and networking can overcome the challenges of facing women’s advancement in the workplace?
The case study explores the role of senior women leaders in the career advancement of other women in the workplace. It helps us understand how mentoring can address the low prevalence of women at senior levels despite companies’ efforts to advance women. The case profiles the career and leadership journey of a senior female executive, Maserame Mouyeme. It documents her rise from the dusty streets of Soweto, South Africa to become one of the first black female executives in several corporate contexts across Africa and especially at Coca-Cola. The case illustrates her practice of mentoring and its impact on her and others’ careers. Also illustrated is Mouyeme’s leadership style, mentoring approach and workplace experiences. Students deliberate Mouyeme’s dilemma: whether to continue to advance a new generation of women leaders or whether to focus on her core role of building the business she is responsible for. The selected research method is a teaching case study, grounded in an exploratory approach. Primary data was collected via semi-structured interviews with the protagonist and four of her mentees. Secondary data was collected via studies about the protagonist and the companies she has worked for in her career. The case provides empirical insights about the role of leaders and especially women, in advancing women. The case shows the approaches in which organizations can advance women. It also shows how emerging leaders can better manage their own careers. The case deepens knowledge of women advancement and career development.
Complexity academic level
The case is appropriate for post-graduate level study, including MBA-level. It is also appropriate for use on executive development programs.
Teaching Notes are available for educators only.
CSS 6: Human Resource Management.
Impact investment is an emergent field worldwide and it can play an especially important role in Africa. The aim of this study was to examine how impact investors in South…
Impact investment is an emergent field worldwide and it can play an especially important role in Africa. The aim of this study was to examine how impact investors in South Africa manage the tensions between financial returns and social impact.
The research was based on 15 semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders in the impact investment community in South Africa to understand the related challenges, trade-offs and tensions.
There are two opposing views expressed as to whether the tensions between financial return and social impact result in trade-offs. It is proposed that impact investors embrace this duality and seek to approach it through a contingency and a paradox view. The tensions can be approached by focussing on values alignment, contracting processes, engaged leadership and sector identification. The authors integrate the findings into a proposed framework for effective tension management in an impact investment portfolio.
This study was limited to selected South African interviewees. It would be valuable to extend the study to other African countries.
The issue of values alignment between investors, fund managers and investee firms is an important finding for practice. As is the four-part iterative framework for sensing the operating environment, defining impact, organising internally and defining the investment approach.
This study contributes empirical evidence to scholarship around organisational tensions, especially work in hybrid organisations. It affirms the value of a nuanced application of paradox theory. It examines these tensions through the lived experience of impact investing professionals in an emerging market context.