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The authority on gender empowerment in business for nearly 20 years.

The 18th edition of Standard Bank Top Women Leaders is live!


Written by Content Manager

August 1, 2023

By Fiona Wakelin

I am writing this as El Niño sets in, for what seems like the beginning of a long, hard, wet winter in Western Cape, South Africa – and the face masks that are present in every pocket of my coats are a reminder of the COVID nightmare which seems like a lifetime ago, but inreality was in full force just last year. The severity of our winter and what happens globally, climate-wise, is impacted by the warming temperatures of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean – currently (pun intended) they are off the charts. Everything is connected.

And whilst the planet experiences extreme weather events such as drought, famine, floodsand wildfires brought about by climate change, in South Africa we have our own societal extremity in the brutality and tragedy of gender-based violence and femicide which continues to maim and destroy lives and families. In the first three months of 2023, 10 512 women were raped, 1 485 attempted murders of women were reported, 969 women were killed and over 15 000 women were assaulted* – and we simply don’t know how many remain unreported – hidden in a vault of trauma and despair. In his SONA address this year President Ramaphosa, when referencing the GBVF scourge, confirmed the economic empowerment of women as one of the many avenues required to systemically eradicate this pandemic, which, unlike COVID, continues unabated.

The genesis of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication was to encourage and foreground gender empowerment by celebrating women-led business success, providing inspiration to the many female entrepreneurs out there seeking role models and advice. The 18th edition carries on this important tradition – and packed into these pages you will find a cornucopia of tenacity, resilience, courage, compassion and inspiring stories of how to rise above the noise from women across the board.

Our Foreword is penned by Standard Bank Group Chief Operating Officer, Margaret Nienaber, who puts it so well when she says: “Uplifting and including women in business at every level is key to leveraging Africa’s fast-growing population for sustainable development and the establishment of general prosperity”. 

Standard Bank Executives Simone Cooper, Nomonde Hlongwa, Anne Aliker and Thandeka Goba contribute in-depth articles on leadership, empowering women in the workplace, embracing challenges and resilience. Nozicelo Ngcobo, Director: Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA), graces the front cover and we celebrate her journey and that of CCBSA MD Velaphi Ratshefola in the lead story. 

The Thought Leadership section includes important pieces on wide-ranging topics written by Itumeleng Monale, Chief Operating Officer of the JSE; Dr Judy Dlamini, Chairperson of the GBV Response Fund; Dr Shirley Zinn, CEO of Shirley Zinn Consulting; Fatima Collins, Chairperson of the Women in Mining initiative at Sibanye-Stillwater; Sandy Carter, COO and Head of Business Development at Unstoppable Domains; Genevieve Mannel, Chief Digital Officer, Cipla South Africa; and Leanne Emery Hunter, COO at YES. 

Celebrating success, we look at a selection of the Standard Bank Top Women Award winners – and to further showcase the exciting achievements of empowered women in different sectors please enjoy the Top Women Across the Board and subsequent Interviews sections. 

The Tips and Advice segment contains useful articles on topics such as a survival guide for new leaders, team building, coaching, work-life balance and mental wellbeing. 

And, finally, to complete the magazine, there is the all important index of gender empowered companies.

This jam-packed edition would not have been possible without our fabulous A team: Director, Van Fletcher; Assistant Editors Koketso Mamabolo and Sinazo Mkoko; Designers, Tashwell Brown, Nasreen Emeran, Talbot Ferguson and Candace Lombard; and Traffic Manager, Daniël Bouwer.

We hope you enjoy the read as much as we did putting it together. 

Police Minister Bheki Cele, 30 May 2023 – South African Police Service crime statistics


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