The annual report of the Commission for Employment Equity was released on Wednesday - and it highlighted several labour trends. File picture: Reuters

Johannesburg - White women are overrepresented relative to other designated groups at the highest levels of employment, according to the annual report of the Commission for Employment Equity, released yesterday.

It says at top management level white people at 62.7 percent and men, in particular, still continue to enjoy preference over other race groups in terms of recruitment, promotion and skills development. This is in contrast with their 10.8 percent share of the economically active population (EAP) nationally.

“White female representation at 12.8 percent was more than twice their [share of the] EAP,” the report says.

The report shows that Africans constituted less than 20 percent of top management last year, whereas they make up 75 percent of the national EAP.

The report says the movement of various designated groups into top management over the past 10 years has been staggered and inconsistent.

For instance, in 2009 black African representation at the top management level reached the highest proportion of 20.3 percent before declining to the current 19.8 percent.

“In fact, the ‘movement’ has been more like static, if not regressive, over the past five years, at this most crucial level of decision-making and influence.”

The report continues: “The actual figures (raw data) of all employees in management reveal another story. The total number of employees in top management from the statistics given by employers were 15 515 in 2003 and it rose to 22 571 in 2013.

“Of the 21 571 top managers in 2013, a staggering 14 149 were white employees. This is ‘followed’ by Africans who were a mere 4 464; then Indians (1 879); Coloureds (1 146). The total number of people with disabilities at top management was 347 people in 2013.”

Women constitute 20.6 percent of top management. The report says: “In real terms, there are more females in top management (4 646) than all the Africans in top management (4 464).”

It says the pattern for top management is reflected in senior management, albeit with some slight variation.

Women made up 29.9 percent of senior management last year. However, it was notable that women in the top two tiers of employment were mostly white in the private sector.

Loane Sharp, a labour economist at Adcorp, said: “The South African government is obsessed with the racial profile of management. This is not a good indicator of racial transformation. A far better indicator involves looking at incomes rather than management status.”

Sandra Burmeister, the chief executive of executive search firm Landelahni, said too few people were being trained at lower and intermediate levels to fill the senior positions. “It is linked to supply and demand.”

Speaking at the launch of the annual report, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said the draft employment equity regulations recently published for public comment were not intended to disadvantage any of the designated groups, in particular, coloured and Indian people.

“Anyone who says so is telling a blue lie, and even in an election period lies should not, and cannot, be acceptable. In fact, contrary to what some parties have claimed, the regulations were introduced to enhance the implementation of the law, given the high levels of non-compliance that the Department of Labour has observed over the years of the enactment of this (Employment Equity) Act,” she said.

The regulations state that targets for the transformation of the upper levels of the workforce should be determined by the national rather than the regional demographic profile of the population.

The DA says this will disadvantage coloured employees, who make up the majority in the Western Cape.

Oliphant said the data in the employment equity report bore testimony to the fact that in the Western Cape, white people accounted for 79.5 percent in top management and 68 percent in senior management positions, while coloured people only accounted for 11.8 percent and 19.3 percent, respectively. - Business Report