Transformation lagging in private sector, minister calls for crackdown on culprits

There has been little transformation in the top management of private sector workplaces since the passing of the Employment Equity Act some 20 years ago, Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi said on Tuesday. 

Nxesi was commenting on the Commission for Employment Equity's annual report for 2018/19. 

The report, Transformation does make business sense, outlines how far South Africa has progressed in transforming workplaces and the extent to which companies comply with the Employment Equity Act.

The report covers entities within the private sector, the public sector and non-profit organisations. Over 27 400 employment equity reports were submitted to the commission.

Speaking at a briefing in Pretoria, chairperson of the Commission for Employment Equity Tabea Kabinde said white males still dominate top management positions in South Africa.

At the top

When the public and private sectors were combined, whites accounted for 66.5% of top management positions, while black Africans accounted for 15.1%. This is followed by Indians at 9.7%, coloureds at 5.3% and foreign nationals at 3.4%. The report also found that top management is 76% male. 

In the government sector, 76% of top management positions are occupied by black Africans. This falls to just 11.8% in the private sector. 

'Top management' is the highest of six occupational levels described in the report. It is defined as someone who controls the functional integration of the business, determines overall strategy and signs off on policy. 

Whites also still dominate senior management positions, one level under top management, accounting for 54.5% of these positions. This is followed by black Africans at 23.2%, Indians at 11.1%, coloureds at 8% and foreign nationals at 3.3%.

Self-regulation 'not working' 

Key findings of the report show there is a need to increase the representation of black African and coloured population groups in key occupational levels, Kabinde said. She noted that some strides had been made in ensuring Indian and white female population groups were better represented in the higher occupational levels.

"Our country is not moving on transformation," the minister commented on the report. "The lack of transformation and employment equity must be tackled head on, through a number of strategies.

"It is clear that self-regulation is not working," he added.

"When certain groups are underrepresented it means there are talents and skills which are underutilised," Nxesi said.

Offenders must face the music

The minister added there was a need to "increase the risk of non-compliance" so that people know there are consequences for not meeting the requirements of the act. "When the risk of being caught is very low, many of the employers are not going to comply," Nxesi said.

Among the measures to be taken to address the challenges is to ensure the promulgation of s53 of the Act - which requires that each employer wishing to do business with the state, provide an Employment Equity compliance certificate. "Those who do not comply must face the music or be punished," Nxesi said.

The bill is now before Cabinet and is expected to reach Parliament by September for further review, labour officials clarified at the briefing.

By enforcing s53, will force employers to consider candidates from under-represented groups, Kabinde said.