Commission for Employment Equity laments slow pace of transformation in labour market

Long queues outside the department of labour offices in Durban, after been revamped.

Long queues outside the department of labour offices in Durban, after been revamped. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA).

Published Oct 21, 2022

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Rustenburg - Transformation of the labour market is moving at a slow pace, the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) said.

According to the commission, at the top, senior, middle and junior management, the advancement of black people, specifically, African and coloured, has been characterised by an unpredictable and staggered trajectory.

"At lower levels (semi-skilled and unskilled) of our South African workforce, there is clearly higher percentages of the representation of black people, in particular Africans and coloured population groups, women, especially African and coloured; and persons with disabilities.

“This ‘dark hole syndrome’ has been the pattern over 24 years since the inception of the Employment Equity Act (EEA),“ commission chairperson, Tabea Kabinde, said in a statement.

“There is therefore, a clear indication that the transformation legislative instruments, in particular the EEA has not induced the serious consideration in the decision-making processes of corporate South Africa, and the labour market as a whole. The approach on the implementation of the EEA by the captains of industry so far, has not generated the necessary urgency and momentum required in transforming the economy,“ she said.

“One cannot expect different results when the approach by decision-makers/captains of industry has always been ‘malicious legal compliance’ with the EEA and the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act (B-BBEEA)”.

She said much of the efforts were merely aimed at scoring points to get the B-BBEE certificates in order to access state contracts, and not on substantive compliance.

“The decisions and practices are not embracing the spirit and ethos of employment equity.”

She said employment equity must be seen as a tool to drive the transformation agenda of any organisation to ensure that there were intentional opportunities created for designated groups therefore, striving for diversity, equity, fairness and inclusivity in any organisation’s workplace.

“As such, it should be implemented as a business imperative with consequence management for those who do not implement it seriously in organisations. Where there are boards that are responsible for governance, particularly social and ethics committees, it should be driven from that level.”

Kabinde said the recent Dis-Chem memorandum does not position employment equity and transformation as a business imperative embedded in the business strategy.

“It therefore, may be perceived to be malicious compliance. The memorandum dealt with EE as a subject for chasing numbers instead of fully embracing the spirit and the letter of law.

“The response by the board on the other hand, seems to align EE to the values and ethos of the organisation, which is critical.

“The malicious compliance is one of the reasons for the tabling of the Amendment Bill of the EEA. The EE Amendment Bill is still to be signed into law by the President and we wait eagerly for this."

Dis-Chem CEO, Ivan Saltzman, issued a memorandum halting the employment of white managers in a bid to improve the company's employment equity and transformation objectives.

The Dis-Chem board has apologised to South Africans for the inappropriate tone used in an internal memorandum.

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