Editorial: Who will be boss in 2068?

2018-07-01 06:26

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How long will the ludicrous dominance of white people, and white men in particular, last in South Africa’s companies?

The annual report from the Commission for Employment Equity shows that white men dominated the management of companies and institutions last year, much like they did in 2016, 2015 and so on.

However, the report reveals that the trend is going in the right direction – towards demographic representivity. Still, at this rate, white men will be the largest single block of senior managers for two more decades. At the level of top management, the unshakeable incumbency of white men will remain in place for more than 40 years.

The pace of change is the problem, and it is not a simple problem. What combination of inherited head-starts and racist hiring accounts for it?

Many top managers very likely own their companies, making the problem broader than qualifications and networks.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant complained at the launch of the report that the bleak picture showed that it is “clear that some employers don’t respect the Constitution of the country”, which makes transformation an imperative.

It is worth noting that the majority of South Africans are at peace with this noble objective and it is only a few who do not agree. If you also scan the employment equity 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. There are times when one feels that even the employment equity plans are put together grudgingly and there is no real will to implement them.

“Twenty years after the Employment Equity Act was introduced, there is not much to show for it,” she said.

In the past 24 months, the business community has stepped up to the plate and has joined the society-wide fight against state capture. The captains of industry have been active in selling South Africa as an investment destination. They have done well in fighting off pernicious laws.

It is now time for them to honour Business Leadership SA’s stated commitment to transformation by actively developing “a deeper and wider pool of talent from which to draw future leadership” in the corporate sector.

Read more on:    politics  |  racism

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