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Empowering women in engineering leadership roles

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SKF South Africa, part of the global bearing and rotating technology specialist SKF Group has reaffirmed its commitment to the development of women’s socio-economic empowerment through education and encouraging female appointments in leadership, influential and engineering positions.

Head of Human Resources & B-BBEE, Corlé Grobler, said statistics showed that black women engineers were still disproportionately under-represented in the workforce despite ongoing policies and programmes to address the imbalances of the past.

With this in mind, the South African subsidiary signed a black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) ownership agreement with the black women-owned Golelo Trust four years ago.

Grobler said the objective of the trust was to advance the education and economic development of Black women in South Africa by providing financial assistance for tertiary education in the field of engineering and specifically in mechanical engineering.

Since its inception in 2017, the first fifteen engineering bursaries for black women have been granted, with all of the bursars having completed their studies successfully so far.

She said SKF South Africa was proud of the fact that currently 40% of its senior management team was female. “But ultimately our goal is true gender equality by achieving a 50/50 representation throughout the company.”

Grobler said that in an effort to showcase some of the women who occupy managerial positions at SKF, the company asked them to share their thoughts on good leadership qualities and how an organisation benefits from diversity and inclusion.

Commenting on leadership, Amelia Cloete, SKF Warehouse Manager, said, “Respect is earned. Always be willing to share your knowledge and ensure that the people you lead understand their value in the organisation and their part in the end goal – customer satisfaction.

SKF Training Solutions Manager, Gail Taylor, said, “A good leader is one who allows their team to make mistakes without fear, is humble, empathetic, and has a clear vision which is openly shared with and understood by the team.”

On the subject of diversity and inclusion HR Business Partner Michelle du Plessis said, “By expanding the pool of talent to include people of all demographics we allow ourselves the opportunity to see problems and opportunities from different perspectives. This can only increase our competitiveness in a global market”.

SKF Customer Service Manager, Uveeka Ramkylas said, “Encouraging diversity in the workplace improves productivity. Productivity is in the effectiveness and efficiency of the employees and employer in an organisation.”

On how to engage a team and get the best out of individuals, SKF Customer Service Team Leader, Engineering Services, Elizabeth Pretorius said, “By knowing my teams weaknesses and strengths I can assign tasks to them that suit them and will challenge them”.

Asked what it is like to work at SKF, Quality & EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) Manager Firi Ismail said, “I have the privilege of networking on a global level, learning from other people and even teaching other people. I am very proud to be a part of SKF, a global group which holds Quality and EHS in such high regard because they actually see the value in it.”

Head of Customer Services and Logistics Neritha Pillay described working at SKF as both exciting and demanding. “I like that we get the opportunity to network with different people from all over the world. The supportive and dedicated colleagues continuously share the best practices and their knowledge; these types of collaborations and the empowerment culture make working at SKF great.”

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