Good News for Gender Diversity in the Male-Dominated E-Commerce Sector

Local e-tailer defies industry gender standards

In South Africa, despite there being twice as many men than women specialising in information and communications technology (ICT), and more than four-times as many male software engineers than females, the budding online retail industry looks to be fostering a culture of gender inclusivity and equality. That is, if the workforce of leading South African e-tailer,, is anything to go by.

“We are fortunate to have an extremely diverse company, with incredible women working in every single department – many of whom are leading our teams,” says Laurian Venter,’s director, who believes that each of these managers is capable of being a leading industry voice in South Africa; if not the world. “After all, e-commerce is still a relatively new industry and there is every opportunity for us to lead the way.”

It’s safe to say that Venter’s ethos runs more than skin deep among the company’s female managers, one of whom is digital marketing manager, Jessica van der Westhuyzen. “I honestly don’t experience gender-specific challenges in the industry I work in. I don’t feel ‘alone’, but rather part of a community where everyone respects and trusts one another.

“As a young professional, it’s also great to see women in leadership positions, and inspiring to share in their knowledge and benefit from their training and mentorship,” she adds.

Echoing Van der Westhuyzen’s sentiment is’s head of finance, Megan Adant, who believes that the company’s unique culture has shielded her from the common challenges that many women face in the workplace. “I don’t feel that gender is an issue in my position and whilst I have been challenged, I have always felt supported by my manager and department.”

While it is evident that women are well represented at, buying manager, Marli Schnetler, says that this cannot be said for the whole online retail industry. “Our company is definitely doing a phenomenal job in this area, but there is still a long way to go in the e-commerce sector overall.”

Noting this room for improvement, Venter says that she and the team are doing everything they can to permeate positive change in the broader industry. “Many of our department heads are on e-commerce boards and committees, so we are definitely doing our bit to be the change we want to see in the industry.

“Our digital marketing manager, Jessica, won the IAB Digital Marketer of the year last year and our Head of Content, Michal Turner, is on the Social, Community and Digital Influencer Marketing Panel that is setting the benchmarks for monitoring influencer performance worldwide,” she notes.

But importantly, Venter warns against getting too consumed by the various inequalities that may exist in the e-commerce industry. “I think that if you focus on bias, restrictions or prejudices, you can hold yourself back. There are huge opportunities in this industry to grow and get ahead, so start from the bottom, work hard, and care about what you do,” she says, emphasising the dynamic range of careers that exist within the online retail space.

“E-commerce, especially in South Africa, has had a massive push forward this year, and there are so many aspects and opportunities within this industry. Just look at our company for example; while we operate within the online retail space, we employ people across a vast variety of roles, including software development, design, buying, marketing, procurement, finance, customer service, warehousing, systems and operations.

“So if you are a young woman looking for an amazing opportunity, I would highly recommend that you investigate online retail as a career path. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be working amongst our very own league of leading ladies at,” Venter concludes.

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