News Updates:

Female CAs up by 40%, but SA audit profession still lacks female leaders


Female CAs up by 40%, but SA audit profession still lacks female leaders
23-08-22 / Duty Editor

Female CAs up by 40%, but SA audit profession still lacks female leaders

Johannesburg - Female representation of chartered accountants has grown by up to 40%, but the South African audit profession still lacks female leaders. 

Rochelle Murugan and Yolandie Ferreira, Partners and co-Heads of Audit at Mazars in South Africa, are in many respects two sides of the same rare coin. As leaders in a highly competitive industry like the audit profession, which is still very male dominated, both can attest to the fact that rising to the top as a female is challenging.

“Women have a lot to offer this industry in terms of ways of working and leadership. We bring a different perspective, different insights and different experiences to these roles. The challenge we face is to retain talented women within the audit profession and at Mazars we are placing focus on customised coaching and mentorship to address this challenge. Future female leaders need guidance aligned to their specific needs and experiences in their careers, to ensure they are able to optimise their strengths, boost their self-confidence and reduce the limitations they sometimes place on themselves,” says Murugan.

With Murugan heading up the Audit and Assurance service line for Mazars in the Gauteng region and Ferreira taking charge of the Cape Town region as well as co-leading the Mazars Global Audit and Assurance Service Line, these two dynamic women share a common vision, which is to have a more people-inclusive approach encapsulating the essence of driving their strategic vision for the service line.

“We both bring our own perspective to our roles. I bring insight into the Gauteng market and Yolandie brings her vast knowledge and experience of the Cape Town and international markets to the mix,” says Murugan. “As co-Heads, this allows us to play off each other’s strengths, and drive our end goal which is ensuring that Mazars delivers audits with a high level of excellence and quality while focussing not only on technical training but also on inclusivity and understanding our people, so that everyone is able to thrive in this demanding environment,” adds Ferreira.

While the combination does help this dynamic team to make the important decisions that drive Mazars’ whole South African audit team forward, Ferreira explains that the duo also concentrates on leading their division in a much broader manner. Since the start of their co-Head leadership in 2021, they’ve had the opportunity to implement new ways of doing things by bringing Mazars’ audit leaders from around the country together to create more of a dialogue in the decision-making process. 

“This means that we can sense-check our ideas with the other teams and get more diverse perspectives to ensure quicker roll out and implementation of decisions. Leveraging off the perspective, expertise and experiences of the other offices improves our ability to strengthen and grow the service line in a more effective manner and aligns with our “One Team” approach,” says Ferreira.

Ferreira adds that this philosophy of inclusivity does come at a price. “It takes a bit longer to put decisions and strategies into action because we place such high importance on getting input from a diverse team. Of course, this means that we have to manage the decision-making process a lot more closely, but the results speak for themselves.”

On the point of diversity, Murugan points to the fact that the co-Heads’ management style is only made possible by the fact that Mazars puts considerable effort into its internal diversity and inclusivity programmes. “To start, the firm prioritises technical training, public speaking courses, leadership branding programmes and self-leading programmes that help all of our people to better understand and manage themselves. In addition to that, we’ve also begun to offer career coaching specifically for women.”

The latter, according to her, is clearly a vital part of driving better gender diversity within the organisation. “Two things that make a massive difference for career trajectory - especially for women – are networking and mentoring. We find that women want each other to succeed, so as we begin to see more females in leadership roles in our firm, we also see more senior women reaching out to female candidates who show promise as leaders.”

“It is because we can fall back on a strong team with diverse backgrounds but similar challenges, that we can actually grow and adapt the audit and assurance service line at Mazars in South Africa. The fact that our organisation is creating a steady flow of female professionals and people with vastly varying perspectives, means that we can test our strategies, challenge our decisions and put the best possible plans in place. This really is the notion of diversity driving growth, put into practice,” Ferreira concludes.

Leave a Comment