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Empowering South Africa’s Women Must Be a Priority

Cape Town, 27 September 2016: The first Black woman to sit on the board of directors at Protea Hotels by Marriott®, Dorcas Dlamini has risen to the top of the hospitality industry with seeming effortlessness. But hers is actually a story of what raw talent and ambition can achieve, given the right circumstances.

At only 32, Dlamini is the Director of Sales for a multi-national business. Adding to the many successes she has already achieved, Dlamini was recently named as one of the Top 40 Women in South Africa’s MICE (Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions/ events) industry.

Dlamini began her work life with Protea Hotels at just 19.  She is proof of the value companies like Protea Hotels can add to the African economy, by offering opportunities to young people, who may not have a tertiary education, but show ambition and enthusiasm.  Following her initial appointment as a junior sales co-ordinator, the key to her success lay in being given opportunities, and grabbing them firmly with both hands.  “A company like Protea Hotels offers so many new prospects,” she says, “The more new things I tried out, the more success I had.  So I applied for new positions and training as they came up.”

It is difficult to imagine a woman like Dlamini not succeeding under any circumstances.  However, the sad reality, is that according StatsSA’s 2014 figures, Black African women between the ages of 15 and 34 made up 49.1% of youth not employed or studying. This means that nearly one in every two Black women in the country is neither studying nor employed.  It’s by far the race and gender group most negatively affected.

Happily, Dlamini is one of the growing number of women who are bucking this trend.  Following her promotion to Sales Director, she was also elected as the vice-chair of the board of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry, which promotes this sector both throughout South Africa as well as Botswana and Namibia.  With the latest recognition of her leadership role, it is clear that her strong work ethic and determination are paying dividends.

There are many Dorcas Dlamini’s in South Africa, who have boundless ambition and enthusiasm, and for companies like Protea Hotels, having that kind of attitude outweighs any qualifications. With tertiary education being prohibitively expensive for many people, there is a strong argument to be made for other South African companies to offer different employment and training opportunities. Identifying and letting talent like Dorcas Dlamini’s grow can only be of benefit for business and the women of South Africa alike.