14th annual Standard Bank Top Women Awards 17 August 2017

“Good evening Honoured Guests, Finalists of the Top Women Awards,
esteemed Judges and Ladies and Gentlemen.”

Tonight we will recognise 27 award winners. Each has been supported by our amazing category sponsors, with gifts sponsored by our various lifestyle sponsors. Can we please show hearty applause for this fantastic corporate support from our sponsors.

I would like to make special mention tonight to our Top Women Platinum Sponsor Standard Bank. Standard Bank and the women who lead it, especially Nontokozo Madonsela and Jayshree Naidoo, have literally put their money where their mouth is: not just supporting Gender Empowerment but acting as a driving force behind Women Entrepreneurs.

If you are an entrepreneurial-minded woman, passionate about technology and innovation … if you are looking for an organisation who gets you and supports your Next, then you must seriously consider doing business with Standard Bank.

With Standard Bank having been the only title sponsor of this event for over 7 years, tonight marks the 14th anniversary of the Top Women Awards; and I wanted to share a bit of our journey with you.

15 Years ago my father – whom some of you may know – launched the Top Women publication, to profile organisations that are driving Gender Empowerment. Annually, we now research over 10,000 companies. Of that, roughly 1,400 qualify for entry into the publication through methodology developed by Morne Oosthuizen at the University of Cape Town.

We then introduced the Awards, with a vision to recognise the absolute best of the best among those organisations, along with amazing individual women leaders. We engaged at the time with Tshidi Makabudi – a director at KPMG – who helped thrash out innovative awards criteria and processes in partnership with our research unit. We added to these, adjudication by an independent judging panel of industry experts, CEO’s, former winners and association partners.

14 years on, Top Women is a great success. Yet we know all, success comes from hard work, and the events team at Topco and Standard Bank has worked tirelessly to make tonight all it should be. Please join me in showing our appreciation for the great work they have done.

I would also like to personally thank our esteemed 2017 judges, who have given hours of their personal time in adjudicating tonight’s winners – we owe you a huge debt of gratitude. I know that this year the quality of entries was so high that defining winners amongst the winners was a real challenge. Ladies & gentlemen, would you please join me in showing appreciation for the work of our judges!

But why are these Awards important, apart from the glitz and glam and obvious networking opportunities? Because what they offer, to both our finalists and winners, a seal of approval; a watermark of success – and that has measurable value.

International studies have compared the financial performance of award-winning companies against other, similar-sized companies in their sectors. What they found was that, 3 years after winning their award, these companies outperformed peers by an average 17% in sales and 36% in share value. Tonight, we therefore celebrate not just our winners’ current success, but the success tonight’s accolade will bring.*

At Topco, we believe that identifying and publicly recognising the best in business and the public sector is vital and inspirational, and a driver of progress in both business and society.

I am sure you’ll all agree that sharing recognition for gender empowerment is particularly essential, in a country where less than 30% of top executive roles are held by women. This despite the well-researched fact that companies with the most women board directors outperform those with the least by 16% in return on sales (ROS) and by over 26% in return on invested capital (ROIC).**

Such gender empowerment leaders and companies – our finalists and winners tonight – also have a responsibility to ‘pay their success forward’ being, as they are, much-needed role models and future mentors to the next wave of extraordinary Top Women Leaders.

That in mind, I would like to leave you with a strong message I heard this morning at our preceding Conference, from Geraldine Fraser Moleketi.

She said at the end of her speech:
“All I ask of my future grandchildren, and the people I work with today is that,
if you serve in the public or private sector, you serve with 100% of yourself”.

Enjoy the evening & thank you!”

*Stevie Awards, Awards Intelligence, British Quality Foundation (based on experience in USA).

** Various studies by Catalyst.org