Black directors arrive on JSE

2010-10-09 12:33

The number of JSE-listed company ­directorships held by black people ­increased by 96% over the past four years.

Research carried out by black economic empowerment ratings agency Empowerdex for its Trailblazers project shows that the number of directorships held by black people moved from 485 in 2006 to 951 this year, of which 703 are non-executive directorships.

The number of black people holding directorships went from 362 to 770 during the same period, of which 157 are ­decision-making, hands-on executive directorships. To make sense of these figures we need to note that one person can hypothetically hold more than one directorships.

Non-executive directors do not ­participate in the day-to-day management of companies and they are usually involved in planning and policy making and are sometimes included to lend prestige to companies due to their standing in their communities.

These figures also show that 181 black people hold at least two directorships.

Employment Equity Commission chairperson Mpho Nkeli said the figures were a positive sign for transformation.

“We are heartened by progress in employment equity, particularly at top management levels because leaders are meaningful players in our economy and impact on the culture of the business, which could enhance or detract from transformation and business success.”

But she was not impressed by the pace of transformation when it came to ­executive directors, who have increased from 93 to 157.

“On average, companies have nine ­executive directors and this would ­hypothetically mean that the 157 black executive directors represent about 4.4% of total executive directors in companies listed on the JSE.

“Although we do recognise the growth in the black numbers we do not think it is worth celebrating,” she said.

Tholiwe Ngidi, a senior analyst at Empowerdex, said she had compiled the information from the 400 companies listed on the JSE, which have 3 450 directors in total.

Joe Bester, marketing head at private client wealth management company Citadel, which sponsored the research, said it was encouraging to see the growth in the number of black directors.

“It is imperative that the business environment becomes more inclusive and that new executive talent is developed, encouraged and rewarded,” said Bester.

He said black economic empowerment was gaining momentum.

“Figures released by the JSE earlier this month showed that blacks now own 18% of the available share capital in the top 100 JSE-listed companies,” he said.

The Trailblazers project, which has been running since 2006, celebrates the leading black directors of listed companies every two years. Previous winners of the most influential black director award include experienced non-executive directors Mamphela Ramphele and Fred Phaswana. The winners of this award are identified through their involvement in different companies and the companies’ market capitalisation.

There is also an award for the most powerful director, which was taken by outgoing chief executive of telecoms ­giant MTN Phuthuma Nhleko in 2008. The award is based on the person’s shareholding and leading position in a company. The 2010 awards, which will include the new category of most admired black director, will be announced this Friday.

The top 50 on Empowerdex’s most ­influential ranking will be invited to vote for whomever among that group they most admire.

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