Black women have participated in paid work over a number of decades, also in a democratic South Africa, and in forced unpaid work for millennia. Yet, the work roles which have stereotypically been associated with blackness in South Africa, and our own biases, have often blurred our ability to view black women’s professional and workplace leadership success with admiration and appreciation.
Working in the field of diversity studies, I am primed and reminded to consider my own social positioning in relation to the topics that I write about. I am classified as white, and recognise that my lived reality is different from that of the women who are presented in this year’s Women’s Report. It is for this reason that I did not contribute a paper in 2020. I nevertheless feel excited at witnessing the unfolding of black women’s workplace prominence — a new face of leadership that may yet reach a stable footing amongst men who feel vulnerable and some women sceptics.
With the backdrop of global groundswells for change, the conviction to propose that three black women write papers about black women in South African workplaces is appropriate. True to her own spirit of positivity, Phumzile Mmope ignites our thinking by positioning ubuntu leadership in relation to Black Girl Magic — does it have a place in the workplace?
Nastassja Wessels anchors our thinking in her paper about black women’s societal placement, which she likens to a twice-black bind. She highlights aspects of discrimination and misinterpretation that women often endure due to their societal positioning.
The papers in the report are concluded with a reflection on the unleashing of black women’s entrepreneurial power. An entrepreneur herself, Christine Kere’s paper provides practical advice with many helpful links in order to encourage black women to seek self-determination through entrepreneurship.
Happy reading of this first web-based Women’s Report.
Anita holds the University of Stellenbosch Business School Research Chair dedicated to the study of women at work. She has a PhD from the School of Management of the University of Southampton (UK) and is an associate professor at the Business School, where she teaches in the organisational behaviour and leadership tracks. She is a non-executive director of the National Business Initiative, a voluntary coalition working towards sustainable growth and development in South Africa.
She is the editor of the annual Women’s Report and has published numerous public reports, articles, and book chapters on diversity and women’s issues. Anita regularly engages in public forums such as print, online and broadcast media.