Effective Executive Journal
Factors Affecting Marginalization and Discrimination of Women in Senior Leadership: An Exploration of the Manufacturing Industry in South Africa

Article Details
Pub. Date : June' 2023
Product Name : Effective Executive
Product Type : Coaching and Mentoring
Product Code : EECM020623
Author Name : Chantall Syster, Preeya Daya and Kurt April
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Management
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 29



This paper investigates the factors contributing to the underrepresentation, marginalization, and discrimination of women and black females in senior and executive leadership positions in the South African manufacturing sector. Despite constituting 44.6% of the economically active population, women only hold 26% of the top managerial positions. Similarly, black women (encompassing black African, Colored/Camissa/mixed-race, and Indian/Asian women) make up 40.7% of the economically active population, but only occupy 12% of top management positions. Using a qualitative research approach, this study conducted 13 in-depth semistructured interviews with male and female senior and executive leaders from seven manufacturing organizations. The findings revealed that the lack of representation of women in senior roles is due to organizational and sector-specific factors like discriminatory hiring and promotion procedures, resistance to change, and the prevalence of an "old boys' club" culture. Moreover, the study highlights that black women encounter even greater discrimination in all of these areas.


According to research, diverse teams deliver superior results and give organizations a competitive advantage (Armache, 2012; Ely and Thomas, 2020; Urbancova et al., 2020; and April et al., 2023). Organizations with more women in top management roles are more "profitable, more socially responsible, and provide safer, higher-quality consumer experiences", according to Post et al. (2022, p. 1). They discovered that including women in the top management team enhances the group,s diversity of viewpoints, receptivity to change, risk-taking, and overall way of thinking. Also, teams with a diversity of ethnicities/races are found to make decisions more carefully and with less error than teams with a homogeneous ethnicity/race (Hunt et al., 2015). Additionally, diverse teams are more likely to think independently and from a larger range of views/options, which results in original and creative thinking that is crucial for innovation (Apfelbaum and Mangelsdorf, 2018). Despite these advantages, representation of diversity, particularly in managerial and senior leadership positions, has only marginally and very slowly improved in South African organizations (Daya and April, 2021).