‘Hang in there, black professionals’

2013-04-21 14:00

Top economist says transformation will happen through skilled black employees from within companies.

Here’s a message for black professionals in the private sector: Hang in there for dear life.

That’s the clarion call from renowned economist and businessman Iraj Abedian, the chief executive officer of Pan-African Capital Holdings.

Abedian was also one of former president Thabo Mbeki’s economic advisers.

He was reacting to the Commission on Employment Equity’s latest report on transformation in South Africa’s corporate and government workplaces.

Abedian says black professionals can increase their representation in top management positions from the current 12.3% to 80% in the coming decades – but they need to be armed with serious skills.

“What we have are smart, young black professionals, but they lack experience and skills.

“The private sector needs to come to the party and work with government to focus on skills development and economic growth. If we do that, transformation will happen on its own.”

A forthright Abedian had harsh words about parastatals, where black Africans have the highest representation as managers, whose figure reads 62.7%.

He said: “At least 95% of our black executives cannot run the show and the one place where this is demonstrated is in our parastatals and DGs (directors-general).

“They have the title and it seems that employment equity has been achieved, but they don’t know how to do the job – not because they are not intelligent or able to, it’s just that they don’t have the experience,” said Abedian.

The report offers insights into what geographical plans professionals should make to try to score management jobs.

Black African men should head to Limpopo, where 19.4% of managers in the private sector and government are black African men – the highest representation of the demographic in the country.

Black African women may want to pack their bags for the Free State. There, this demographic occupies 9.1% of all management positions. That’s the highest figure for this group anywhere in South Africa.

“If you are not a white male, your chances of being in top management and senior management are not very good in the private sector, as white males constitute 63.4% of top management,” the commission said in its report.

Indian men and women are “comfortably in the lead” in

KwaZulu-Natal when it comes to top management. They constitute 16% and 4.5%, respectively.

Coloured women are most likely to get top management posts in the Western Cape (3.8%), while men do better in the neighbouring Northern Cape (11.4%), according to the commission’s finding.

The Western Cape is a happy job-hunting ground for white men (65.5%) and women (14%).

»See Business: Black (wo)man, you’re (still) on your own

Workforce top management distribution

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