The Johannesburg Stock Exchange. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG - 23 years into democracy, and broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) remains a challenge. Real transformation remains at the centre of conversations about black economic empowerment. 

In efforts to continue driving and inspiring real transformation practices, Independent Media’s Business Report has again partnered with Empoweredex, South Africa’s leading empowerment rating agency, in its research to assess JSE-listed companies’ success in meeting black economic empowerment goals over the past 16 years. 

“Our role as the media partner is to support Empowerdex in showcasing the companies that have gone the furthest in transforming South Africa’s business landscape,” says Mike Ntsasa group executive at Independent Media. 

“This partnership is relevant and important especially given the role of the media as watchdog of our communities, and we would like to continue observing and reporting on progress made in this space – as it is in the best interests of the communities we serve,” says Ntsasa.

The Empowerdex Most Empowered Companies Awards were launched 10 years ago, and Business Report has been in partnership with Empoweredex since 2014. The survey measures JSE listed companies’ performance in achieving overall transformation, and assesses them on a number of factors, from ownership to enterprise development.

Nomzamo Xaba, group executive of Empowerdex explains that: “BEE ownership is essentially the measurement of the voting rights, the entitlement to economic benefits, being
the dividend participation and the capital appreciation, as well as the debt-free ownership in a company held by black people. This is the simple explanation; however, no equity structures are designed so simply. There are a multitude of equity structuring tools that must be accounted for when measuring the participation of black people in the equity structure of a company.”

According to Xaba, the need for meaningful transformation in equity ownership continues to be a subject of national discourse in the quest for inclusive economic development. “Of note is the issue of ensuring meaningful participation and inclusion of the majority black population in this important sector of the economy," she says. 

She highlights that a few years ago a number of somewhere between 24% (on the optimistic side) and 3% (on the not-so- optimistic) side was thrown around as being the true reflection of economic participation by black people in South Africa. To date, no conclusive evidence to support this optimistic view has been brought forth. While it seems some progress is being made, a lot more work still needs to be done in this space. 

The survey provides a valuable assessment of empowerment levels at JSE-listed companies, examining various sectors and empowerment factors. Companies have been assessed and ranked based on their operating model under the various BBEEE codes and charters. It also identifies the highest ranked companies in different sectors, reflecting the best-performing companies in each of the different categories on the BEE scorecard. 

The 2017 award categories are:

  • Most Empowered Company: Amended Codes of Good Practice
  • Most Empowered Company: 2007 Codes of Good Practice
  • Most Empowered Black-Owned Company
  • Most Empowered Black-Managed Company

The 2017 most empowered companies will be announced at an awards gala dinner at The Venue, Green Park, Morningside on Friday 6 October 2017 and results will be published nationally in the Business Report. The survey report will also be published in the Empowerment Magazine that will be distributed nationally in Independent Media’s Sunday titles: Sunday Independent, Sunday Tribune and Weekend Argus.

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE