International Women’s Day: How businesses can help employees succeed

Sandi Richardson. Picture: Supplied

Sandi Richardson. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 8, 2024


As the world commemorates International Women’s Day on March 8, multiple organisations underscore the importance of paying attention to issues such as gender equality, the corporate landscape, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

Following this year’s theme of Inclusion, with a major focus on South Africa’s corporate landscape and echoing global trends, it is stated that the call to amplify women’s voices, particularly in leadership, remains important.

It is explained that highlighting inspiring stories of female pioneers is a powerful means of championing this cause and paving the way for future leaders.

Leading female executives at retail consumer finance provider RCS share some important tips with aspiring South African businesswomen.

Mariné van Brakel’s journey, as COO and Deputy CEO of retail consumer finance provider RCS, is one such tale.

Marine van Brakel. Picture: Supplied.

Before being promoted to the role of central finance and operations manager, she began working for the company in 2014 as a finance consultant.

Van Brakel joined RCS’s executive team a little more than two years later as a finance executive and later rose to the position of chief financial officer.

Van Brakel believes that women’s uniqueness is their greatest superpower.

“As women, we are called upon to play so many different roles. We can be leaders, role models, colleagues, daughters, sisters, mothers and carers, to name a few. Our inherent uniqueness lies in our capacity to bring our voices, our minds, and our hearts to each of these roles and to thrive as multifaceted individuals who bring so much value to each of these realms of being,” she says.

The finance provider has made strides in fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace culture by appointing women to executive positions, nurturing young talent, and promoting its Women in Leadership programme.

Transforming corporate dynamics: a way forward

Her advice for women looking to advance in their fields is to “find your village”. The phrase originates from a well-known African proverb about the importance of raising families in supportive, secure and collaborative environments. Similarly, in the corporate realm, the importance lies in fostering a culture of mutual support and solidarity.

As Van Brakel asserts: “In a professional sense, it’s about choosing a village – or a company – that fosters a culture of inclusivity and provides opportunities to learn from diverse perspectives. I have found that at RCS.”

Sandi Richardson, HR executive at RCS, emphasises the need for businesses to invest in gender transformation and utilise women’s talent to improve business operations ahead of International Women’s Day.