As citizens across the country were outraged and polarised recently over the racial fault lines and tension over a racist advert made by Unilever’s TRESemmé hair care brand and published on Clicks’ website, the incident has led to a wider debate about race and racial policies in other local industries. This article forms part of three-piece package that helps contextualize this debate. Here are the other two articles:
Despite the fact that black South Africans account for 78.9% of the economically active population in the country, they only account for 15.2% of top management positions, according to a recent report published by the 20th Commission for Employment Equity (CEE).
The CEE report, which covered the period from April 1 to March 31 last year, stated that South Africa showed a persistent preference for the appointment, promotion and development of the white and Indian population groups in the country, particularly at the top two occupational levels.
“The three-year workforce profile trends from 2017 to 2019 show that black people account for 78.9% of the national economically active population, coloured people account for 9.7%, Indians for 2.7% and white people for 8.7%,” reads the report.
Last year, white people occupied 65.6% of top management positions and Indians occupied 10.3%, which was an increase from the 9.7% they occupied in 2018.
Also last year, black people occupied only 15.2% of top management positions – a slight increase from 15.1% in 2018 and 14.3% in 2017 – while coloured people occupied 5.6% of top management positions, an increase from 5.3% in 2018 and 5.1% in 2017.
Meanwhile, senior management profile and workforce movement and skills development trends showed that white people accounted for 53.7% last year, while Indians accounted for 11.4%. Coloured people accounted for 8% and black people had a 23.5% representation, an increase from 23.2% in 2018 and 22.1% in 2017.
Tabea Kabinde, chairperson of the CEE, said the report showed that the workplace remained on the same trajectory – there had been no significant changes, especially in the occupational levels of top and senior management.
“This worries me because it suggests that the pace of transformation and representation is very slow, and that it will take a long time for representation to reflect the country’s employee assistance programmes. The bottom line is that there’s no will to effect transformation,” said Kabinde.
On the gender front, the three-year trend analysis showed that the representation of men hovered in the mid-60% range, whereas that of women averaged 34%.
Regarding gender movements, Kabinde said transformation was very slow and women were still being overlooked, despite having the necessary qualifications and job experience.
She said the area in which black South Africans had seen a steady growth was in the professionally qualified group, where they had hovered between 41% and 43% for the past three years.
“At the skilled level, the black group has been highly represented, at an average of 63% in the past three years. [Most black people are still] found in the unskilled category, where their representation is more than 80%,” said Kabinde.
She added that, while the current report did not reflect the effects of Covid-19, she expected the worst to come out in next year’s report, due to companies shutting down and scaling down operations.
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The CEE report also said that, while South Africa had stringent legislation governing the appointment of foreign nationals, there had been an increase in the appointment of foreign nationals at entry occupational levels, mainly in semiskilled and unskilled positions.
Kabinde said the proposed Employment Equity Amendment Bill, which was approved by Cabinet in February for tabling to Parliament, aimed to ensure fair and equitable representation of suitably qualified people from these race groups at all occupational levels in the workforce.
“The primary objectives of the amendments are to empower the minister to regulate employment equity sector targets for the designated groups. This will ensure the equitable representation of suitably qualified people from these groups at all occupational levels in the workforce, and decrease the regulatory burden on small employers – those who employ fewer than 50 employees.
“Such employers will be exempted from the obligations of chapter 3, that is, the implementation of affirmative action. All employers are, however, obligated to comply with chapter 2 of the Employment Equity Act – the prohibition of unfair discrimination in the workplace – and to promulgate section 53 of the act to allow for the issuing of an Employment Equity Certificate of Compliance as a prerequisite to accessing state contracts. This amendment seeks to facilitate a higher degree of compliance,” said Kabinde.