New Denel CEO Daniel du Toit is the most suitable candidate for the job, was approved by Cabinet, and will be part of a broader, diverse team representing SA's demographics, the state-owned arms manufacturer said in a statement on Monday.
This after Cosatu-affiliated trade union the Liberated Metalworkers Union of SA earlier this month said it is not happy with the appointment of "another white male" as Denel CEO.
Du Toit took up his role at the helm of Denel on Monday.
On the same day, Denel issued a statement responding to "recent observations by some stakeholders concerning Du Toit's appointment". It said the new CEO was the right person to revitalise the organisation and restore confidence.
The group's chairperson Monhla Hlahla said the decision to appoint Du Toit "was made with our eyes open to the racial and gender imbalances in our country and in the knowledge that we are accountable to the country on the decisions we make as a board," adding that workforce transformation was a "non-negotiable legislative imperative".
A diverse workforce
In response to criticism, Denel said its workforce was diverse, with black employees making up 61% of the workforce, while female representation had grown to 27%.
In 2018, 84% of new appointments were from designated racial groups - Black, Coloured and Indian - with more than 50% of new appointees being female, it said.
It currently has a 16-member executive team consisting of three black males, one black female, three white males (including Du Toit), one Indian male, and eight vacancies.
"The new group CEO is tasked with streamlining the executive team and appointing a diverse team with the right skills to take the company forward," said Hlahla.
The arms manufacturer has been struggling financially. In December its leadership told Parliament that it had made a loss of R1.7bn in 2018.