Equity report 'questionable'

2010-08-05 22:41

Pretoria - The Commission for Employment Equity's report claiming white men still monopolise top management positions is "questionable" and "irresponsible", trade union Solidarity said on Thursday.

"The annual report (...) is riddled with misrepresentations, addition errors and questionable methodology, and is therefore irrelevant and irresponsible," deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said.

The report was released by Commissioner Mpho Nkeli last week.

Hermann said apart from the report's "questionable scientific merit", CEE statistics showed black South Africans were rapidly taking control of jobs in the country.

"Despite the impression created by the CEE, their report shows a constant decrease in the number of white men in the workplace," he said.

Releasing the report last week, Nkeli said some progress was being made. However 10 years since the report's inception and after 16 years of democratic rule much more should be expected.

Referring to the report, Hermann said white male representation at top management levels "tumbled" from 78% in 2001 to 54.5% in 2009.

Representation of white men at senior management dropped from 69.5% to 46.3% between 2001 and 2009.

Pursuing ideology

At professional and middle-management level, the representation of white men had dropped from 52.8% to 27.4% since 2001.

At the technically skilled, academically qualified and junior management levels the decrease since 2001 was from 21.9% to 15%.

At the semi-skilled job levels, white men's representation decreased from 5.9% to 3% in 2009, and at the unskilled levels from 1.1% to 0.8%.

"From these statistics it is clear that white men's position has deteriorated dramatically in the past 10 years," said Hermann.

"Our impression is that the CEE is pursuing a specific ideology, and not the truth (...). (It) should rather be an objective watchdog.

"If amendments to legislation are based on poor statistics and subjective assumptions, the legislation will be poor and subjective."

Among the commission's other "mistakes" was that some data in the graphs comparing one period to another differed from reports issued previously.

Add up to 128%

"In one case, 2003's data regarding top management levels was erroneously used as 2005's data. In another case, the percentages in one column, which should actually add up to 100%, add up to 128%."

Hermann said arguments in favour of amendments to legislation were based only on top management levels. However these levels only made up about 0.4% of the workforce.

Hermann said the CEE's report was based on data from 3 369 companies.

However, the companies were not selected according to a representative or random sample, which called into question the generalisations made from the data about the true state of transformation in South Africa.

Responding to Solidarity's criticism, Nkeli said the commission was "confident" the report was an accurate representation.

"There is more decision making happening at higher levels and we highlighted that (in our presentation)."

Referring to Hermann's statement that data had not been accurately portrayed, Nkeli said because the commission had focused on big companies for the 10th annual report, only figures of the same nature from previous reports were compared.

"We are very confident that we are comparing apples with apples," she said.