Ricochet News

Dawn of the Boss Ladies – A celebration of how Mazars PE has levelled up

By Rochelle van der Merwe and Mariska Bouwer - Aug 3, 2018
Dawn of the Boss Ladies – A celebration of how Mazars PE has levelled up

Wikipedia defines gender diversity as the “… equitable or fair representation between genders. Gender diversity most commonly refers to an equitable ratio of men and women…[1].

In the current climate and on a global basis, there is an increased awareness of diversity and inclusion. Reporting on matters such as the gender pay gap, which is mandatory in certain countries and strongly encouraged in other countries, has provided a renewed platform and opportunity to discuss gender diversity in the workplace.

As a developing country that is still healing from a grim history of colonialization, tribal wars and Apartheid, South Africans are no strangers to the phrase ‘diversity’. The preamble to the South African Constitution as adopted on the 8th of May 1996 states “We, the people of South Africa… Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity…”[2].

At the time that the South African Constitution was adopted, it was one of the most progressive founding documents adopted by any country. South Africa was a forerunner in recognising the value that diversity adds to society and choosing to celebrate diversity.  

However, in the years that have passed since the Constitution was adopted, the phrase ‘diversity’ is often not met with the intended feelings of excitement, optimism and INclusion, but rather feelings of apprehension, frustration and EXclusion.

In the job market when we read the phrase ‘diversity’ some of us may think “My background will count against me. People automatically assume that I come from privilege. People judge me before they know how hard I had to work and the sacrifices that I have had to make to get to where I am.”

Or some of us may think “My background may not count against me during the recruitment process, but I will have to spend my career proving to people that I did not get this job because of my background, but because I deserve this job, as I was the best suited individual for this job.”

Encouraging the intended feelings of excitement, optimism and INclusion when discussing diversity, including gender diversity, is a daily challenge that we face as South Africans. However, like any other challenge, we will rise to the occasion and respond with vigour. We believe that one of the best ways to do this is to celebrate every success that we have achieved, no matter how big or small.

The month of August is nationally celebrated as Womens’ Month. There appears to be no better month to celebrate the success and strides that Mazars PE has achieved over the last decade in respect of gender diversity.

As I am writing this article, I feel extremely privileged to be sitting in the very office where the FIRST woman who was promoted to manager in the Audit Department at Mazars PE, sat after she was promoted. I am of course referring to Elizabeth Pretorius, who was promoted to manager in 2008, exactly a decade ago this year.  

In 2008, the management team in the Audit Department consisted of four managers, of which Elizabeth was the only woman, resulting in a ratio of 25% to 75%. A decade later, the management team in the Audit Department consists of five managers, of which three of us are women, resulting in a ratio of 60% to 40%. Looking further up the ladder, in 2008, the partnership at Mazars PE consisted of nine partners, of which only one was a woman, resulting in a ratio of 11% to 89%. A decade later, the partnership consists of seven partners, of which three are women, resulting in a ratio of 43% to 57%.

The women partners have contributed greatly to the success of Mazars PE in multiple areas. All three act as an engagement partner on key audit clients in respect of our strategic market objectives and our growth in turnover objectives.

Along with her technical expertise, Juli-Ann du Preez’s passion for the training and development of employees, both young and old, makes for an unmatched learning environment. We award her the title of “T for Training”.

Adele Driscoll is constantly identifying opportunities and engaging in projects to increase efficiency, develop a truly modern firm and driving us into the future. We award her the title of “I for Innovation”. When the going gets tough, the tough goes to Elizabeth Pretorius. In the fast pacing, client facing, output driven environment of professional services, we may often feel overwhelmed with our workload.

Elizabeth is unparalleled at prioritising the workload of employees and reallocating resources to ensure that high quality output is maintained and no employee is left at sea without a paddle. We award her the title of “E for Employee Champion”. That spells out “TIE”. And that is exactly the word that I would use to define the contributions that these incredible women have made to Mazars PE. They TIE us together.

Mazars PE has no shortage of amazing women. The contribution that each women has made to the firm is too much content for any single article. Watch this space in the coming weeks, as we explore the benefits of gender diversity, in celebrating the success and contribution of the women at Mazars PE.

Mazars PE has made great strides and achieved tremendous success in the area of gender diversity over the last decade. The next step for us as an office is to replicate these great successes in other areas of diversity, including ethnicity and social background.

As a firm we are constantly looking for ways to improve our strategies in tackling the areas of diversity and at the very core we always remember “If you are doing something positive, if you are doing something extra, if you are doing something you can be proud of, you are doing something Mazars.

As a proven leader in tackling gender diversity we have no doubt that we will become a leader in tackling other areas of diversity.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_diversity
[2] www.justice.gov.za/legislation/constitution/SAConstitution-web-eng.pdf