230909 Woolworths in woodmead.photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi

Woolworths is one of seven companies the Commission for Gender Equality has praised for good progress towards achieving race and gender equity at its workplaces.


This is a slap in the face for Solidarity and AfriForum, which launched a campaign last week to get consumers to boycott Woolworths for its advertisements for jobs that are exclusively open to Africans, coloureds and Indians.

In response to the campaign, the retailer took adverts in three national newspapers on Sunday to defend its employment equity policy.

The other companies complimented in the commission’s annual report are Nedcor, Express Air Service (trading as Bidair Cargo), Rennies Ships Agency, Kolok, Albany Bakeries and King Foods.

In notes for the presentation of the report, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, who commended Woolworths’ efforts, said there would always be those who found fault with transformation at all levels.


“As the government… and those that seek genuine transformation, we shall encourage companies like Woolworths to continue with the transformation and integration of society,” Oliphant said.

The commission found the Western Cape to be the worst-performing province in race and gender equity both in the government and private sector, across every occupational level.

Ntsoaki Mamashela, the Department of Labour’s director of employment equity, said: “This province is performing reasonably in respect of women representation, but serious steps are needed to improve on the representation of African women.”

Cosatu in the Western Cape said it was not surprised by the commission’s findings.


Under the Employment Equity Act, employers with 150 or more employees have to report to the commission every year. The annual report provides a trend analysis between 2007 and 2011 on workforce profiles.

The report found that the best-performing provinces on race and gender were Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West.

The report says white people still dominated at the top management level with 65.4 percent of posts, which is nearly six times their economically active profile (EAP) and double the representation of all black people at this level.

EAPs include people from 15 years to 64 years, who are either employed or unemployed and seeking employment.

The commission found that at the senior management level, black representation was gradually increasing, though at a very slow pace. White representation remained just below 60 percent and decreased at a very slow pace from 2007 to 2011.

Mamashela said: “Progress at the professionally qualified and skilled levels appears to be much better, which raises the question as to why this is not improving progress at the two upper levels.”

The commission found all three tiers of government were performing much better than the private sector in terms of equitable representation of both race and gender.