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Companies - June 8, 2021

A Look at the Gender Parity on the Boards of Africa’s Biggest Companies

Gender equity continues to be a sensitive topic across different spaces and industries, especially at this time that different brands of feminism are arising all over the continent. One thing common to all these groups is a desire to see more women in positions of influence and decision making. Some would argue that not enough women are given the opportunity to prove their salt in leadership, but relegated to the back-scenes where they do so much work and get little credit. 

In recent times, however, the narrative is clearly changing. We are seeing women emerge on the driver’s seats in major corporate organizations and across the political spectrum.. There are clearly more female founders and co-founders now that there has ever been in the history of the African continent, and women are now feeling comfortable enough to take on more daring positions, tasks and opportunities. 

In this article, Business Elites Africa tries to put a figure to the progress made in the female gender representation in Corporate Africa. We look at the boards of some of Africa’s biggest companies in different regions, and highlight what the female to male ratio is now. 

Below are some of the major industry players by annual gross revenue,  market capitalization and public listing on the stock exchanges. Note that these are not arranged in any order of appearance. 


Leading South-African Media Company, NASPERS has a market capitalisation of $67.8 billion, with annual sales of $3.3 billion, as of 2020, according to Forbes, with its valuation pegged at $102 billion.

The 17-member board is led by Jacobus Petrus Bekker “Koos” as Chairman and Bob van Dijk as CEO, both male chieftains. With five women in the midst, the rest are men. This shows a 5:12 ratio or 29.4% representation of women on the board. 

Emilie Choi, Manisha Girotra, Rachel Jafta, Debra Meyer and Ying Xu are all Independent non-executive directors on a board that has 12 men. 

FirstRand Limited

FirstRand was incorporated in 1966 as the holding company for FirstRand Bank, a financial services provider in South Africa, said to be Africa’s biggest bank by value. FirstRand has a market capitalisation of $12.4 billion and annual sales of $7.5 billion according to Forbes’ estimates.

William Rodger Jardine is Non-Executive Chairman while Alan Patrick Pullinger is the CEO of the 13 member board where 6 are executive and 7 non-executive directors. On this board are 3 females; Mary Vilakazi, Chief Operating Officer (executive member), and Thandie Sylvia Mashego and Zelda Roscherr as Independent Non-Executive directors. 

The 3/13 translates into 23% female representation on the board…

EDITOR’S NOTE: For the rest of this article and other amazing stories of African female entrepreneurs, read our Top 30 African Women Entrepreneurs and Influencers below.

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