Shake-up for South African companies that are ‘not transforming fast enough’

19 August 2020

Despite efforts to transform the labour market, an analysis of South Africa’s workforce shows ‘an apparent pervasive and persistent preference in the appointment, promotion and development of the White and Indian population groups’, says commission for Employment Equity (CEE) chairperson Tabea Kabinde.

Commenting on the CEE’s annual report for 2020, Kabinde said that the country’s workplaces remains on the ‘same trajectory’ at the top management level.

“This does worry me because it suggests that the pace of transformation and representation is very slow and that it will take long for representation to reflect the country’s EAP. The bottom line is that there is no will to effect transformation,” she said.

Kabinde said that the report shows that in 2019, the white South Africans occupied 65.6% of top management positions compared to 66.5% in 2018.

By comparison, black South Africans are still lagging behind at top management levels in 2019, with representation at 15.2% compared to 15.1% in 2018.

The data is based on directorship and not all levels of management control.

Nonetheless, this demonstrates low transformation at board level, which has an indirect impact on lower levels of management because of the power and bargaining imbalances between black people and non-black people, the CEE said.

Speaking on the gender groups, Kabinde said that transformation was also very slow.

“This being women’s month – it is almost as if employers do not hear the plight of women – that we are here. We want our place at the table, we are capable. We are not asking of you to give us something that we should not have access to. We say recognise us, recognise our skills, and recognise what we bring to the party,” she said.

Incoming changes 

The CEE said that one of the ways that this lack of transformation will be addressed in through the Employment Equity Amendment Bill.

The bill was approved in February 2020 by Cabinet for tabling to Parliament.

The amendment bill will regulate the setting of sector-specific employment targets to address the gross under-representation of blacks, women and persons with disabilities.

It will also ensure that an employment equity certificate of compliance becomes a precondition for access to state contracts.

A draft version of the bill published indicated that the changes were made to speed up transformation.

The bill states that while the public sector has seen significant changes, the private sector continues to lag behind.

“It has been 20 years since the inception of the Employment Equity Act, however the pace of transformation has been slow,” the bill states.

“Relative to the demographics of the Economically Active Population (EAP) as released by StatsSA, marginal progress in relation to the equitable representation of the designated groups, in particular Africans, coloureds and persons with disabilities have been made in the middle-to-upper occupational levels, which is repeatedly visible in the statistics contained in all the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) annual reports.”

In preparation for the implementation of amendments, the CEE said it will work alongside the Department of Employment and Labour to engage business sectors on the setting of targets.

The CEE said it hoped that these targets will be finalised in 2021.

Source: Businesstech at