Black Women Breaking Boundaries in the Property and Construction Space

 

In a fairly patriarchal society, a number of South African women have fought tooth and nail to find a seat at
the corporate table. This Women’s Month, we celebrate Nonku Ntshona, Ipeleng Mkhari and Vuyiswa
Mutshekwane, who are three exceptionally successful black women who have made a significant mark in
the corporate property space. We share their learnings and challenges as women in corporate as well as
how they are breaking boundaries in their respective fields to provide young women with more
opportunities to thrive.

 

Nonku Ntshona is the founder and CEO of Nonku Ntshona & Associates Quantity Surveyors (Pty) Ltd
(NNAQS), a quantity surveying and construction management company. Ntshona advises on how society
can find ways of including women in corporate and career-building paths, and that it first has to be
addressed at the grass-root level. This can be as early as at secondary school level where it can be a place to
drive and attract more women to choose careers in corporate types of industries. There also has to be
impartial recruitment processes that are implemented to accommodate individuals for their skills.
Companies should consider removing current gender bias from their work culture and acknowledge that
women are equally capable.

 

Ipeleng Mkhari is the successful founder and CEO of Motseng Investment Holdings, a diversified investment
holding company with operations in the property industry. Mkhari informs how the inclusion of women in
the corporate space requires inclusion policies that drive incentives and champions. “There are clear,
diverse and accountable policies in the South African economy, however, the drive for inclusion needs to be
sector-focused for it to become a reality and to be personable and realistic,” says Mkhari.

 

Vuyiswa Mutshekwane is the CEO of the South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners (SAIBPP)
and also serves as a non-executive director on various boards of publicly listed and unlisted companies as
well as non-profit organisations. “There needs to be a change; a change where one sees more women
participating in the industry by being more deliberate about appointing women to leadership positions,”
Mutshekwane says. “However, it should not end there, Those women who have made it into leadership
positions are required to ensure that they are intentional about driving structural change within their
organisations as well as creating more holistically inclusive companies.”
These three successful black women have shown how one has to work twice as hard to get to where one
aspires to be. This is dependent on both race and gender. Mkhari has had to navigate a way through
proving beyond poor assumptions that women are capable in a male-dominated industry.

 

Thus dismantling the implicit, conscious and unconscious biases all related to the systemic power dynamics
in society. Mutshekwane has expressed that most of her challenges as a black woman have been a rather
personal experience which has led to self-infliction and self-doubt. “Through reflection, understanding the
importance of rejection and failure is vital,” says Mutshekwane. Although it has been a challenging process
for these women, they have managed to understand their importance and the power behind being a black
woman.

Patriarchy as a gender bias was a significant challenge for Ntshona. The mindset of women being incapable
of handling a male-dominated industry is rather predominant. “The general assumptions were that only
men could be leaders in any establishment. The patriarchal nature of society tends to still see men as being
traditional leaders. Thus, attributes to some of the societal constraints that hinder women from
reaching their full potential,” says Ntshona.

 

As a society that is currently living through the fourth industrial revolution, active promotion and
supporting of women-owned business is needed. This can be done through regular representation and
inclusion that focuses on women such as providing them with the opportunity to share and narrate their stories
through both traditional and digital media. it is quite vital for women to unite and challenge the patriarchal
system, which is what these three successful women are doing in their respective fields.

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