We don’t have 127 years ...

2011-08-06 18:08

Companies need to take risks with all races of people if they want to help the country transform ­economically.

Mpho Nkeli, chairperson of the Commission for Employment ­Equity (CEE), said firms would struggle to change the current profile if they were only prepared to take risks with white employees, but not their black counterparts.

“If we find that we do not have skills, we develop them. Companies give people experience. At skills we can be quite innovative.”

Her comment comes as the CEE released its report on employment equity in the country.

Nkeli said it would take 127 years for economic demographics to be represented if change continued at the current rate.

Figures regarding qualified professionals was a cause for hope as, for the first time, blacks (Africans, coloureds and Indians) in the workplace account for at least half of the country’s professional ­employment force.

She said it was not up to the commission to tell companies how to change the skewed figures at top and senior management levels, but that they had the ability to find solutions.

“In the recruitment we have now – driven by voluntary resignations, lifestyle, retirement – we are not using the opportunities. That is a concern.

“What should business do? Business is run by clever people. They know what to do.

“Companies employ innovative people and come up with fantastic products. They make money ­during a recession, for God’s sake. Therefore, the same intellect should be applied to this challenge,” Nkeli said.

Both the ANC and Cosatu have slammed business for paying lip service to transformation.

ANC spokesperson Brian Sokutu said government needed to come up with regulations to enforce employment equity.

He said the ANC would “engage” organised business if change continued at this pace.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said it was “a national disgrace that we have done so little after 17 years of democracy to reverse the racial imbalances inherited from the days of apartheid”.

The commission said it wants regulations amended so that companies could be fined a portion of their revenue, compared to currently where companies faced a fixed penalty for non-compliance.

Changes the commission recommended to the National Economic Development and Labour Council, which are currently being debated, include:
» Making it easier for the department to push for compliance from companies;

» Making it easier for the department to monitor businesses; and,

» To change the fines from Rand-based fines to a percentage of companies’ turnover.

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