Growing demand for operational excellence in the country in increasingly outward-facing industrial enterprises in a global economy must include the requirement that more women be employed, owing to government legislation and societal demands, and the two imperatives are by no means mutually exclusive, says specialist recruitment and consulting company Indipath Professional Placements director Mmasetshaba Baloyi.
“Indipath continues to see [more] women entering the market, but, with a lack of critical growth expertise at enterprise level, including business development and awareness of general social environment benefits, realising a healthy balance does not come easily,” she says.
Baloyi outlines that industrial and consulting engineers are inclined to save companies costs and provide the companies with a competitive edge in pricing, distribution, systems and improved turnaround times.
Industrial engineers are involved in process engineering, supply chain management, lean implementation, warehouse design, solutions architecture, demand planning and system implementation, as well as solutions design.
“Industrial engineering is ill-defined and often not used [optimally]. I believe that inclusivity and diversification of the economy’s leadership in race, gender and an innovative culture will improve confidence in the sector and conjure up a sense of purpose and capability,” she says.
Baloyi further adds that South Africa aims to redress past inequalities, from empowering and promoting previously disadvantaged professionals to encouraging small, medium-sized and microenterprise businesses’ participation in the mainstream economy and advancing the creation of young African black women industrialists.
Therefore, recruitment companies – such as Indipath – as well as consulting companies, are the conduits that facilitate equity placements.
“We mentor graduates to become industrial engineering professionals, bridging the gap between industry expectations and academic preparation,” she points out.
The competence of women in this sector is undermined, which is evidenced by their poor representation in JSE-listed companies, says Baloyi.
She highlights that there is a need for industry to recognise that women are just as skilled, confident and powerful as men – the industry would be on its way to increasing the number of women represented in senior positions and, possibly, running JSE-listed companies, if this were to be reversed.
Baloyi enthuses that women need to fight this ‘war’ and not sit back. “Government and political will alone will not help women and the industry, in general, if the current so-called captains do not realise that women are just as good – and that we need each other – for the advancement of this highly critical sector.”