Job equity ‘far behind target’

Damning new statistics on transformation

File picture.
File picture.

South Africa is nowhere near where it needs to be in transformation, Tabea Kabinde said.

The Commission for Employment Equity chairwoman said new statistics highlighted the disparity in employment trends between the government and the private sector.

The commission handed over its 18th report on compliance with the Employment Equity Act in 2017 to Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant yesterday.

“Twenty years on [since the Act was promulgated], we are still nowhere near celebrating effective implementation of transformation legislation.

“We cannot even begin to contemplate the implementation of a ‘sunset’ clause on this legislation,” Kabinde said in her foreword to the report.

“The commission is now preoccupied with advising the minister on exploring other effective implementation and compliance mechanisms for this legislation and also creating an environment where the focus goes beyond compliance to commitment from ethical leaders in the South African labour market.”

Amendments to the Act, which would set sectoral numerical targets for employment equity so that compliance could be monitored and measured, were being explored, she said.

This was being discussed in the National Economic Development and Labour Council.

The statistics provided by the commission in its report highlight the disparity in employment trends between the government and the private sector, with black Africans dominating at top and senior management level and among the professionally qualified in government, and whites in the private sector.

Kabinde noted that since 2001 the biggest shift from whites to blacks, in particular Indians, had been at top and senior management levels.

“The picture in terms of gender remains particularly discouraging,” she said.

“The highest increase in representation of women is noted at senior management level, which is [an] 18.8% increase.

“This bleak picture is after 20 years and is far from desirable,” Kabinde said.

The effect of the Skills Development Act to redress inequality appeared to have been minimal, she said.

Year after year, the statistics demonstrated that white men were favoured in terms of training and development, which indicated there was no real political will to transform.

Business Unity SA acknowledged that the pace and depth of transformation had been insufficient, but said the commission’s numbers did not tell the full story.

It also criticised the Department of Labour’s punitive fines and punishment, saying it was not an effective mechanism to ensure buy-in from key roleplayers.