In a report published by Bloomberg, Africa’s biggest lender by assets, Standard Bank Group Ltd. has nominated a female Black woman, Nonkululeko Nyembezi to chair its board for the first time.
In what was regarded as a historic move, the South African bank’s appointment served in the country as a “great, positive step for transformation for the banking sector,” said Nolwandle Mthombeni, a banking analyst at research and consulting firm Intellidex.
“Hopefully we can work toward bringing in new and different faces for board appointments in future so that transformation can be even more meaningful.”
Nyembezi’s appointment comes as the financial sector in South Africa faces greater pressure to broaden the diversity and inclusion of board members and top management – race and gender have both come under consideration.
A publication noted that, White men and women hold 64 percent of management positions in the country, whereas Black men and women hold less than 20% of the top employment.
“It is hugely significant to us that the Standard Bank will shortly have its first female chairman, and that this chairman is a black African woman,” Chief Executive Officer Sim Tshabalala said.
Referencing a statement issued on Tuesday, Nonkululeko Nyembezi has been named Chairman-designate, effective June 1, 2022. The sitting chairman, Thulani Gcabashe will step down after the annual general meeting scheduled for May 31, 2022.
After the announcement was made, the company’s stock jumped 1.5 percent, establishing the impression that investors received the appointment with optimism.
Nyembezi, a South African native, earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and a master’s degree from the California Institute of Technology.
She also worked almost a decade with IBM in both the United States and South Africa, and was ranked 97th on Forbes’ list of the world’s 100 most powerful women in 2012.
Nyembezi formerly served as the chairman of the JSE Ltd., South Africa’s main stock exchange, and as the CEO of the steel company ArcelorMittal South Africa Ltd.