Written by Staff Writer
Dzunani Makgopa, head of finance at the Independent Power Producer, shares advice on overcoming imposter syndrome.
The glass ceiling for women CFOs remains stubbornly in place. As previously reported in CFOClub, only 22 percent of CFOs in JSE-listed companies are women. The median pay gap compared to male CFOs on the JSE is 32 percent.
While the causes are multifaceted, according to a recent panel discussion at the recent CFO Africa, imposter syndrome is one of the culprits.
“The problem that women have inherently is we’re not able to put ourselves forward,” Dzunani Makgopa, head of finance and corporate service at the Independent Power Producers Office, told the audience.
A recent KPMG study of 700 US executives found that two-thirds of women C-suite members experience imposter syndrome.
“Whereas a man will walk in a suit, give you a firm handshake, say,’ listen, you want to charter this plane, I’ll be your pilot today. I can do that’. Women are more critical of themselves.”
“It’s a highly debilitating phenomenon that we’re talking about, and it cuts across an individual’s life,” Makgopa explained to CFOClub after the event.
How to fight imposter syndrome
First, you need to identify the instances when you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, Makgopa explained. “While it’s creeping up in your mind in a boardroom full of men, full of older people.”
“Be able to identify it and speak back the facts. Remind yourself of your achievements. You’re not in that boardroom by mistake. It wasn’t a coincidence or by chance. You do have the know-how, the qualifications, the leadership, the experience and even the soft skills.”
Finding mentorship is also important, says Makgopa.
“You’re not an island. There are people who have walked the journey before [there are] a lot of insights that can be shared, people you can relate to who you can associate with who can give you a lot of insights to deal with this crippling phenomenon.”