The important role of women in the business advisory industry

Nov 2, 2018

Signa Advisors specialise in transformation, empowerment and growth. By providing professional and strategic management consulting solutions to clients, whether it be in B-BBEEE compliance solutions, HR solutions, upskilling or enterprise development, they help to grow long-term value for the company.

Many advisors are women and play an important role in the diversity needed in the business advisory sector. But which key skills do women bring to business advisory organisations such as Signa? We asked the women of Signa what they thought and here’s what they had to say.


“Women tend to be relationship focused, and we are often able to draw in stakeholders from many different areas to work toward a common goal. Signa Group gives us opportunities to invest in each other and to hold ourselves and others to a higher standard, all while being acknowledged for our efforts and successes.”


“Women who understand all the facets of running a home, will understand how to run a company. Planning, communicating, organising – but most importantly, being flexible! Women understand that you have to be able to adapt, reconsider and innovate.”

A culture of accountability

“We foster a culture of accountability in the workplace. We get things done but we also take responsibility for our mistakes.”


“Women are naturally enterprising, but owing to maternal and domestic responsibilities these entrepreneurial efforts were often constrained by circumstances and restricted to a micro-scale. To work at Signa means extending the impact women had on a small scale to a wider set of beneficiaries in communities – particularly the young adults of our communities.”

Challenging the status quo

“The ICT sector is perceived as predominantly male. Being a woman in a position of leadership in the ICT Sector, I see this as an opportunity to level the playing field. A strong woman becomes powerful by working hard and being flexible.”


“Diversity, not just gender but also age and race, makes us better problem-solvers. Working with people who think differently, challenges one to think differently too – and that’s how you come up with innovative ideas that drive the business forward.”

Soft Skills

“Soft skills. Emotional intelligence, empathy, conflict management, communicating clearly, providing structure and mentoring – all these skills help us to execute the strategic intent.”

Women believe in meaningful work

“This work is not about numbers and spreadsheets. It is about connecting with people, helping them through complex challenges, and enjoying the satisfaction of seeing clients meet their goals.”

“I am able to contribute towards making a real impact in the lives of young people in South Africa. My contribution is in the development of skills programmes and learnerships courses that are aimed at upskilling unemployed or underskilled individuals so that they can leverage existing opportunities and sustain long-term employment, thereby improving their quality of life and becoming economically active.”


“Working in the advisory business is about educating and engaging – being able to listen, empathise, teach and coach. Women naturally gravitate towards these methods.”

Women grow other women

“Younger women need mentors to help them develop their careers, and supporters to recognise their achievements. They need to see other women in senior leadership positions. Telling our stories as women advisors is a powerful way to empower the youth.”

And there you have it – the voices of our Signa team certainly tell the story of how women in business bring different perspectives, different problem-solving strategies as well as different networks to companies, providing them with new opportunities for growth.

Signa remains committed to upskilling individuals and transforming societies – and when women’s contributions in the workplace are recognised and valued, societies are transformed.

Six strategies to help companies increase women leadership roles

Nov 2, 2018

The Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Commission recently challenged the government and the private sector to increase the number of women appointed to company boards and ensure at least 30% procurement from black women-owned enterprises.

The call was prompted by the 2017 report produced by the B-BBEE Commission, which shows that JSE listed companies have only 38% representation by black persons on their boards, with males accounting for 20% while females stand at 18%. Furthermore, black ownership has declined by 5.75% standing at 27% and black-female ownership by 1.96% which is at 9% compared to the 2016 report (indicating black ownership at 32.75% and female ownership as 10.32%).

One could therefore ask: “Is B-BBEE Commissioner Zodwa Ntuli’s challenge a pipe dream?” Despite significant proof that having a diverse workforce improves company performance as well as its bottom line, organisations are still struggling to attract and retain women, particularly black women, in leadership roles.

Companies that are serious about equity, should be transparent about their intention to shift organisational culture and follow up with real, shared action. The following strategies could help companies reach these targets:

  1. Inclusive Hiring

Organisations must change how they hire and for what they are hiring. Women bring a different perspective to business and we need to acknowledge and leverage it. Instead of trying to mould women into the roles that men have been doing for decades, we should be more interested in hiring smart women to develop new roles.

Furthermore, companies should have recruiting programmes that target black women. Not only should all applications for top positions include black women in the group of viable candidates, but recruiters must also be trained in unconscious bias and interviewing candidates of different races and genders. Basically, if you want more black women hired in top positions, you need to have more black women doing the interviewing.

  1. Sponsorship

Commissioner Ntuli has challenged businesses to provide financial assistance in reaching these goals, including, but not limited to, incentive schemes such as the black industrialist incentive programme of the Department of Trade and Industry, which is aimed at promoting industrialisation, sustainable economic growth and transformation through the support of black-owned entities in the manufacturing sector.

Apart from these schemes, companies can also provide in-house sponsorship and incentives. Black women are often at a disadvantage because, in the words of talent management research firm Catalyst, they are “double outsiders”: They’re neither white, nor men. As a result they’re often shut out from the informal networks that help other people find jobs, mentors, and sponsors. Sponsorship programmes enable sponsors to be paired with future female leaders, which can open career doors for them through promotions, connections and high-visibility assignments.

  1. Mentorship

Mentors provide encouragement, feedback as well as guidance, which can be found at different levels of the organisation. KPMG in New York, for example, created the African-American Mentoring Circles that have group mentoring discussions with senior leaders. IBM and Deloitte currently pair top leaders (often male) with female mentees who have been identified as future leaders. The objectives are to build confidence, give honest feedback, help to course-correct when things go wrong, and expose future leaders to the most strategic work at the company. What makes Deloitte’s programme successful is that coaches are held accountable for the success of his assigned leader in developing new capabilities. The results are directly tied to the coach’s performance review and compensation.

  1. Career Counselling

While mentoring is for individual employees, career counselling takes a broader approach. By designing and promoting company programmes that provide focused career development opportunities to diverse members of staff, you ensure that everyone is aware of the opportunities and the pathways to get to them. These programmes might include developmental plans, certifications, stretch assignments, promotions and networking opportunities. Annual reviews would ensure opportunities are equal for men and women who have been rated with similar capabilities.

  1. Top Earners

The best companies conduct pay audits to look for wage disparities, and ban salary history questions from recruitment and hiring processes. The percentage of multicultural women who are in the top 20 percent of earners at their organisations is still low. The disparity in pay generally occurs when a woman decides to start a family and time constraints become an issue. Companies need to create more flexible options for women including telecommuting, job shares and consulting assignments to retain women and keep financial continuity intact.

  1. Support

As women continue their upward trajectory in business, companies must continue to evolve their employee benefits to ensure that women are able to retain demanding positions. These benefits may be family focused, allow flexible work hours or offer more leadership opportunities.

Making sure qualified black women make it through the corporate gauntlet to the upper ranks requires serious efforts in hiring, mentoring, sponsorship, and development. However, one thing is certain, organisations that commit to these objectives will have a serious competitive advantage in the long term.

Signa Group, a leading business advisory and skills development business, is committed to skills development, community upliftment, training and B-BBEE initiatives that can make a real difference to individuals, communities, companies as well as society as a whole.


Oct 12, 2018

Released on 27 September 2018 by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, the new Mining Charter has sparked significant interest not only in recent days but also in the months leading up to it.

The Department of Mineral Resources has provided an overview of the Charter, examining its various components. These include Ownership, Mine Community Development, Employment Equity, Beneficiation, Housing and Living Conditions, and others.

Despite its tumultuous history, which saw numerous iterations before this final version was Gazetted (15 June 2018, No. 41714), Minister Mantashe has assured stakeholders that there will be no additional changes made within the next five years.

The Charter was first introduced in 2004 and amended in 2010. It is designed to set out the obligations of mining and prospecting rights holders to racially transform their ownership, management structures, and procurement practices. This is necessary to facilitate sustainable transformation, growth, and development of the mining industry.

And while it is still early days to determine the general market reception (and impact) of the Charter, its finalisation will help bring certainty around policy in the mining sector.

Even though the full Mining Charter is available online for downloading and reading, we have provided a link to a presentation from Mantis Networks for a convenient overview.

Given the complexities and nuances in such a complicated document, government has provided the assurance that implementation guidelines will be released within the next two months. An important consideration is that the Mining Charter does not align with the Codes of Good Practice from the Department of Trade and Industry. While it does take its definitions from the B-BBEE Act, the sector must be aware there are important distinctions in the Charter.

The success of the Charter will likely only be seen in the months and years to come. However, the much-needed structure provided to the regulatory environment, means mines can now focus on putting the systems and process in place to ensure compliance.

Want to know more? Get in touch with Signa Group, and let one of our business experts advise you on the ins and outs of the Charter for your business. Please email for further information.

B-BBEE Commission releases practical guide to ensure validity of B-BBEE certificates

Sep 12, 2018

The B-BBEE Commission has issued a number of letters requiring organisations to withdraw their B-BBEE Verification Certificates due to invalidity or fraudulent conduct. The purpose of the Practice Guide 1 of 2018, issued on 3 September 2018, is to set out the approach the B-BBEE Commission is likely to take on determining the validity of B-BBEE certificates.

Download the Practice Guide 01 of 2018 here.

A B-BBEE Verification Certificate, a sworn affidavit and a B-BBEE certificate issued by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) is evidence of a company’s compliance with the B-BBEE Act. It is illegal for a company to trade with an invalid or incorrect B-BBEE certificate.

This bulletin outlines the non-negotiable elements that must appear in a sworn affidavit and on a B-BBEE certificate for compliance.

Validity of a sworn affidavit

Exempted Micro-Enterprises (EMEs) and black controlled and owned Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSEs) only have to use a sworn affidavit to indicate their B-BBEE compliance status. Government introduced this mechanism specifically to reduce the cost of doing business and regulatory burden for these businesses.

The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has designed mandatory affidavit templates which can be accessed on the dti website. The following pointers are key in determining the validity of a sworn affidavit:

a) Name/s as they appear in the identity document and the identity number.

b) Designation of the deponent as either the director, owner or member must be indicated in order to know that person is duly authorised to depose of an affidavit.

c) Name of company as per registration documents issued by the CIPC.

d) Percentage of black ownership, black female ownership and designated group. In the case of specialised enterprises as per Statement 004, the percentage of black beneficiaries must be reflected.

e) Total revenue for the year based on audited financial statements or management account.

f) Financial year-end documents, which were used to determine the total revenue.

g) B-BBEE status level.

h) Empowering supplier status must be indicated. For QSEs, the deponent must select the basis for the empowering supplier status.

i) Date deponent signed and date of Commissioner of Oaths must be the same.

j) Commissioner of Oaths cannot be an employee or ex officio of the company.

Validity of B-BBEE certificates issued by CIPC

The dti mandated CIPC to issue B-BBEE certificates for EMEs and start-up enterprises, in its efforts to reduce cost of business for small businesses. B-BBEE certificates can be applied for via eservices on the CIPC website. A valid CIPC certificate must have the following information:

a) Name of enterprise, registration number and business address.

b) Date of issue and expiry (e.g. 9 June 2018 to 8 June 2019) must be indicated.

c) Percentage of total black ownership, black female ownership and total white ownership.

d) Certificate number.

e) Barcode with tracking number.

f) Barcode with enterprise number.

g) B-BBEE status and procurement recognition level.

h) The dti logo on the top left corner and CIPC logo on the top right corner.

i) CIPC watermark.

Determining validity of a B-BBEE certificate for B-BBEE compliance

A company that qualifies to undergo a B-BBEE verification process, can only do so with a verification professional accredited by SANAS. A B-BBEE Verification Certificate shall identify the following information:

a) Name of company as per registration documents issued by CIPC.

b) Value-Add Tax number.

c) The B-BBEE scorecard against which the certificate is issued, indicating all elements and scores achieved for each element. The actual score achieved must be linked to the total points as per the relevant Codes.

d) B-BBEE status with corresponding procurement recognition level.

e) The relevant Codes used to issue the B-BBEE Verification Certificate.

f) Date of issue and expiry (e.g. 9 June 2018 to 8 June 2019).

g) Financial period which was used to issue the B-BBEE Verification Certificate.

h) Unique identification number of the B-BBEE verification professional.

i) Name and logo/mark of the B-BBEE verification professional or agency.

j) A B-BBEE Verification Certificate must be signed by the technical signatory at the bottom with full name and surname. The details of the technical signatory can be checked on the SANAS website.

k) The SANAS logo on the B-BBEE Verification Certificate.


Trading with an invalid or fraudulent B-BBEE Verification Certificate is an offence which could lead to fines of up to 10% of a company’s annual turnover. Individuals involved could be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

This Practice Guide will go a long way in assisting with the interpretation and testing of the validity of a B-BBEE sworn affidavit/CIPC B-BBEE certificate as well as a B-BBEE Verification Certificate issued by an accredited verification agency.

YES Programme launched to addresss youth unemployment crisis

Aug 30, 2018

On 28 August 2018, the department of Trade and Industry published the Youth Employment Service (YES) Initiative as Notice 502 under Gazette #41866. The programme was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 27 March 2018, as an addition to the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act.

Download the Youth Employment Service Initiative – a programme designed to address the country’s youth unemployment crisis.

To provide guidance on questions like “What now?”, “How does this affect B-BBEE scoring?” and “What does it mean for business?”, Signa Advisors are presenting a series of workshops on the following dates: 27 September in Johannesburg, 4 October in Cape Town, 11 October in Durban. To join us for any of these workshops, please email for further information.

An overview of YES

The statistics are shocking: 52% of youths between the ages of 15 – 24 and 33% of youths between the ages of 25 – 34 are unemployed. The initiative aims to reduce the unemployment rate to secure the country’s economic prosperity.

The YES programme places the needs of young people at the centre of inclusive economic growth by providing specific opportunities to youths. The programme aims to create more than one million paid internships over the next three years, for mainly black South Africans between the ages of 18 and 35.

Other employment opportunities will be created by:

  • Corporate work experience: Companies can create one-year paid positions in addition to the current employment numbers.
  • SMME host placements: Companies that don’t have capacity for additional employers can sponsor the salary for a one-year placement in SMEs.
  • SMME development: Youths are empowered to start and grow their own business, with support from YES in the form of training, seed funding and value-chain integration.

The rationale behind YES is to provide young people with corporate work experience to improve the prospects of finding employment, and to empower them through training and funding to start and grow their own businesses.

Murray Chabant, CEO of Signa Group, says, “Research has shown that one year of work experience, together with a CV and employment letter, will increase threefold the chance of a person being permanently employed. This programme creates a formalised platform for companies to invest in and contribute to solving the country’s unemployment crisis.”

Government is recognising companies’ efforts to comply with the YES programme, by providingadditional incentives. Companies employing black youth between the ages of 18 and 29 will qualify for the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI).

This latest gazette amends B-BBEE legislation to provide for an enhancement of up to 2 Levels for companies that meet or exceed YES targets for youth employment and comply with registration and absorption criteria.

  • Achieve YES target + 2.5% absorption of the youth: 1 Level
  • Achieve 1.5 x YES target + 5% absorption of the youth: 1 Level + 3 bonus points o Achieve 2 x YES target + 5% absorption of the youth: 2 Levels

It should be noted that this gazette does not change Priority Element compliance requirements, whereby missing a 40% sub-minimum requirement results in the loss of a B-BBEE Level. But an entity can now regain that level under the YES initiative and achieve a further level by greater YES performance. Informal Skills Development expenditure for YES employees will be recognised and companies will be able to claim up to 50% of their Skills Development Spend as Informal Training against the Skills Development scorecard.

“It is clear from this initiative that government is actively creating solutions to the country’s unemployment challenge. Programmes such as YES are critical to secure the country’s economic prosperity,” Chabant says.

This new development will create a significant opportunity for B-BBEE consultants to assist their clients maximise the opportunity to improve their B-BBEE Level and to assist them in sponsoring new jobs in external organisations.

Download the Youth Employment Service Initiative for measuring Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment as gazetted on 28 August 2018.

Want to know more? Join one of our workshops: 27 September in Johannesburg, 4 October in Cape Town, 11 October in Durban. To register, please email for further information.

B-BBEE Commission calls for government and private sector to increase number of women on boards

Aug 24, 2018

The report produced by the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Commission (“B-BBEE Commission”) on the national status and trends on broad-based black economic transformation for the 2017 calendar year shows that JSE listed companies have only 38% representation by black people on their boards, with males accounting for 20% while females stand at 18%. The report shows a decline in black ownership by 5.75% and black female ownership by 1.96% compared to the 2016 report.

Zodwa Ntuli, the Commissioner, says “to improve this, we call on government and the private sector to increase procurement from businesses that are at least 30% black women-owned, and to provide financial assistance, including through incentive schemes such as the black industrialist incentive programme of the dti.”

The B-BBEE Commission commissioned the study through DNA Economics, in collaboration with Alternative Prosperity (Pty) Ltd, which analysed data submitted by JSE listed companies and B-BBEE certificate information captured by verification agencies on the B-BBEE Certificates Portal System that the B-BBEE Commission created in 2017. The study is part of the B-BBEE Commission’s mandate under section 13F (1) (g) of the B-BBEE Act and sought to analyse and determine the country’s present levels of economic transformation towards the achievement of the objectives of the B-BBEE Act, in relation to black people owning, managing and controlling enterprises and productive assets of the economy.

The information analysed was for the 2017 calendar year (i.e. 2861 Portal information, 121 JSE listed entities and four state-owned entities). Although required to submit compliance reports to the B-BBEE Commission in terms of section 13G of the B-BBEE Act, none of the organs of state and SETAs submitted their reports in the 2017 calendar year. The analysis was purely based on data submitted on the B-BBEE certificates, and the various elements of the Codes of Good Practice have not been tested for compliance with the B-BBEE Act or on whether the verification was conducted properly by the verification agencies.

The report results show that 38% (male – 20%; female – 18%) of JSE listed companies’ board control is held by black people, which includes black foreign nationals who do not meet the definition of black people as per legislation. The 2016 report indicated that only 30% (male – 18%; female – 12%) of black South Africans held directorship on listed companies, and black foreign nationals were at 15%.

The report indicates that black ownership has declined by 5.75% standing at 27% and black female ownership by 1.96% which is at 9% compared to the 2016 report (black ownership – 32.75% and female 10.32%). The Property, Tourism, Agri-BEE and Financial Services did not achieve 25% on Ownership and on average, entities failed to reach 50% of targets on Skills Development, Management Control, and Enterprise & Supplier Development across all sectors.

The number of companies achieving B-BBEE Level 4 and above has also declined compared to the 2016 report, with the report showing that 60% of the entities fall between B-BBEE Level 5 and Non-Compliant B-BBEE Status, while the 2016 report had 60.09% of entities achieving B-BBEE Level 4 and above. The 2017 report shows that only 40% of entities achieved B-BBEE Level 4 and above, which is 20% decline from the 2016 report.

“We expect the pace of transformation to improve going forward given the recorded 65% increase in the requests for advice from the B-BBEE Commission in the 2017/2018 financial year, and also improvement in the submission of compliance reports after the JSE made B-BBEE reporting a listing requirement, which has helped improve the reporting in 2018 already,” Ntuli concluded.

Click on the link for the full report:

The B-BBEE Commission was established in terms of section 13B of the B-BBEE Act 53 of 2003 as amended by Act No 46 of 2013 with powers effective from 6 June 2016. The B-BBEE Commission’s mandate, amongst others, is to supervise and encourage adherence to the B-BBEE Act in the interest of the public, conduct reactive and proactive investigations and promote good governance and accountability by creating an effective and efficient environment for the promotion and implementation of the objectives of broad-based black economic empowerment.

Issued on behalf of the B-BBEE Commission by:

Sidwell Medupe – Departmental Spokesperson Department of Trade and Industry