Twenty percent reduction in top white managers too slow‚ says affirmative action monitor

28 June 2018 - 13:11 By Timeslive
Image: iStock

South African businesses were lashed for overlooking black and female candidates in training and promotions on Thursday.

Commenting on the Commission for Employment Equity’s latest report measuring the degree of transformation in the country‚ 20 years since the promulgation of the Employment Equity Act‚ chairperson Tabea Kabinde said, "There is simply no real ‘political will and commitment’ to transform.”

During the 2017 employment equity reporting cycle‚ 27‚163 employment equity reports were submitted by designated employers‚ representing just over 7-million employees. The first annual CEE report was launched in 2001‚ when 8‚250 complete reports were filed.

In terms of race‚ Kabinde said the biggest shift from the white population to the black population‚ in particular the Indian population‚ has been at the top and senior management levels. The white population at top management level decreased by 20% whilst at senior management level a 24‚9% decrease is noted.

“This represents around a 1% increase of the black population year on year and is considered be a very slow rate of transformation‚” she said.

At professionally qualified level‚ there has been a decrease of the white population of 13.8% and at the skilled technical level their representation increased by 1.6%‚ according to the report.

“The picture in terms of gender remains particularly discouraging‚” said Kabinde.

The highest increase in representation of women is noted at Senior Management level‚ which is 18.8% increase.

“This bleak picture is after 20 years and is far from desirable‚” she commented.

The number of disabled employees was stagnant.

In 2001‚ designated employers reported that 1% of their total employees were Persons with Disabilities across all occupational levels of their organisations compared to the 1. 3%‚ in 2017‚ the report showed.

Focusing on the Skills Development Act as a tool to address inequalities and unfair discrimination in the workplace‚ Kabinde said 20 years later‚ it was clear the impact has been minimal.

“Employers still complain of a lack of a skilled labour pool from which to draw from to increase the percentage of employees from designated groups at the top four occupational levels of organisations. (Yet) the statistics indicate that the intended beneficiaries of the Act are overlooked in training and promotions.”

Kabinde added‚ “Twenty years on and we are still nowhere near celebrating effective implementation of transformation legislation. We cannot even begin to contemplate the implementation of a ‘sunset clause’ on this legislation.”

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant‚ in a prepared speech for the release of the Employment Equity Report‚ signalled government now favours a punitive approach to enforce transformation.

She commented‚ “If you also scan the EE plans you get the impression that we all understand what needs to be done. The trouble is that broadly speaking‚ we are not making much progress.”

“Whilst the law takes a carrot approach to implementation‚ given the low levels of compliance‚ a stick approach may be justified going forward.”

“We are resolute about scaling up inspection and enforcement. . . ‚” the minister said.