The announcement by Media 24 that Esmare Weideman is to take over as CEO is one of a series of appointments indicating the rising influence of women within South Africa’s largest media group.
Over the past five years a number of senior and important slots across Media 24 have been filled with women. In addition, the group has led the way in our sector when it comes to women at board level, leaving INL, Primedia and CTP/Caxton lagging sadly and inexplicably, behind.
Other top Media 24 positions are occupied by Ferial Haffajee and Lisa Albrecht as editors of City Press and Rapport respectively; M-Net has been led by CEO Patricia Scholtemeyer for some years, Linda Gibson has transformed Ads 24, Karen Meiring runs KykNet… and their executive level contains females in the HR, legal and finance departments.
I sense that the top echelon have no reason to question their decisions. It may not be as well accepted within the ranks though.
Let’s face it, there are risks attached to the appointment of senior executives within groups of this size and influence. Especially though, the selection women to occupy high profile and important hot seats . The risk does not eventuate through a failure of the selected candidate to apply their academic training or experience, it is more subtle than that.
It is the incipient and insistent creep of discrimination based on gender .
The Women in the Media Awards was conceptualised and has been promoted by The Media magazine and themediaonline.co.za, for nine years. It was conceived in 2003 due a a very apparent need then, to acknowledge the role that women had played within the media sector over many years. Often without acknowledgement.
Women report the competitive nature of corporate males to hang onto positions they acquired through networks and old school influences. Males who openly state (and fervently hope) that the women who replace them will fail.
Through the years we have celebrated those who have over past decades set the tone, leading the way despite the odds. Examples include Jane Raphaely, KateTurkington and Barbara Cooke.
We have also acknowledged those under 30 years of age that our Editorial Board of judges believe will do our country justice. Rising stars like Redi Tlabe, Nikiwe Bakitsha and Sbu Mogangadi(SP?).
They look up to our Women of the Year winners such as Pheladi Gangwa, Debra Patta and Libby Lloyd.
We are proud of the women that have been recognised and extremely pleased to see this media giant moving to change their gender mix at the highest level. The challenge remains for other corporates to follow suit. And for the male detractors to wake up and join the celebration.