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Home » Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Africa’s Women CEOs Lead Top-Performing Companies, Says Report

Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Africa’s Women CEOs Lead Top-Performing Companies, Says Report

Women-led companies in Africa

Women-led companies in Africa are outdoing their peers financially, according to a recent report by

Despite only a fraction of the continent’s 24 stock exchanges being led by women, the report found that women-led firms posted better results by a wide margin.

 The collective market capitalisation of the 34 African companies that had female group executives was up 2.8 per cent for the year ended 31 December 2022, outperforming many stock exchanges in Africa and across the world.

While releasing the findings, Teresa Clarke, chair of stated, “This was a remarkable performance in light of conditions globally, and especially in Africa.”

Women-led companies beat global giants

The share prices of firms run by women CEOs beat many stock exchanges, including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the Nairobi Securities Exchange, the London Stock Exchange, and the S&P 500.

The top four performers were all in the financial services sector, with gains in excess of 40 per cent, while the fifth highest performer was in the beverages sector, with growth in excess of 30 per cent.

The report also found that women CEOs produce better results due to their superior skills in nurturing and the fact that they are less egotistical as bosses.

It established that women tend to focus on ‘us’ rather than ‘me,’ which leads to better employee engagement and ultimately better results. 

Women top executives speak

Patricia Lizarraga, founder of Hypatia Capital, said, “Why do women outperform? Because it’s just harder for women to get to the top. So the ones that do by definition have something extra.”

Owen Omogiafo, president and CEO of Transcorp, added that companies run by women have to work harder due to the obstacles they face,

Omogiafo added that they are also more driven to succeed and focus on the soft side of things, such as employee engagement.

To create its third annual Definitive List of Women CEOs, screened 2,020 companies listed on the 24 African stock exchanges for those with revenue of $100m or more, or a market cap of $150m or more, which yielded a list of 787 companies.

The researchers then examined the list of these women to determine those who have a title of chief executive officer or managing director or president and conducted a review to confirm that these executives have bottom-line profit-and-loss responsibility for the companies. This produced a list of 34 companies headed by women.

“Less than 1.3 per cent of the $69 trillion global assets today are under management by women, let alone women of colour.

Those women actually deliver a higher [return] than the men, on average. Clearly, women’s performance is stronger,” explained Vera Songwe, fellow at the Brookings Institution and former head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

As part of an empowerment initiative, the US mission in South Africa and the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) will hold the 2023 edition of the Women Entrepreneurs Program in South Africa from July to November.