Celebrating gender diversity, dhk announces that 50% of its management staff are female
On 9 August in 1956, more than 20,000 South African women of all races united and marched to protest proposed amendments to The Pass Laws Act. Today, 9 August signifies National Women’s Day in South Africa with August being Women’s Month. In celebration of this, one of Africa’s largest design studios, dhk Architects, has announced that 50% of its management team is female.
dhk’s managing director and partner, Renske Haller, who is at the helm of the studio says, “We are pleased to say that 50% of dhk’s management staff are female. We inherently view competency and leadership as equal for all and appreciate the contribution women make within our industry. Therefore, we are intent on developing and retaining female staff. To support this, we offer equal pay and promotion, and have entrenched progressive policies and systems in place”.
In addition to Renske who sits on dhk’s design review board and steers notable projects at the dhk including the award-winning Norval Foundation, there are several other key female leaders. Leigh Bishop, a director and partner at dhk, steers teams working on large-scale residential developments and is in charge of procuring new projects in the healthcare sector such as the new Riverside Hospital in Botswana. Sarah Patterson, a senior associate who is fundamental to dhk’s research and development within the education sector, headed the design of the SAPOA Award-winning Parklands College Secondary School’s “Innovation Centre”. Other key figures include senior associates Claudia Mela who is at the forefront of a number of significant projects in Johannesburg and Sarah Chang who leads the landscape architecture team.
Furthermore, the female leadership team includes associates Fahiema Regal, Tanya Busschau and Wardah Razak. Wardah also heads the Go for Gold leadership programme at dhk in which students from underprivileged communities are given the opportunity to enhance their education and transition through an internship year and onto tertiary education. Other important female management staff include Head of Finance, Shantal Ruiters, Communications and Marketing Manager, Samantha Kerr, and Office Manager, Natasha Geils.
dhk credits its evenly distributed gender balance to a zero-bias hiring policy. Derick Henstra, executive chairman at dhk, says “Our hiring philosophy is that when we hire, we want the best people for the job. It is essential that professional practices see the value in appointing and retaining female staff – it is paramount to sustaining a successful business. We are extremely proud of all of our staff and will continue to fervently push for equal pay and promotion”.