Recently, there has been a positive, sweeping global shift from shareholder primacy to stakeholder capitalism. In this move, the business sector plays a prominent role in combating inequality through purposeful inclusivity.

In the SA context, broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) has long played a pivotal part in fostering greater socioeconomic inclusion. But is it a silver bullet for transformation? Or has it lost its way?

The Sanlam Gauge accounts for all elements of BBBEE, providing a sectoral score to offer insights into how SA’s sectors are transforming. It’s a first-of-its-kind consolidated research report intended to spark debate and give actionable insights.

Sanlam’s purpose, to empower people to “Live with Confidence”, encapsulates the notion of purposeful action. By leveraging opportunities to improve financial literacy, it instils positive financial confidence to galvanise more people to participate in the economy. Its mission is now to bring confidence back to the transformation space.

Karl Socikwa, group executive for Sanlam’s market development, says, “Transformation is about deliberate inclusion. We need to fundamentally change the transformation narrative. Globally, we’re falling short. That became abundantly clear with the Black Lives Matter movement last year. 

"As a brand that seeks to enable successive generations to live securely and prosperously, we take our position of influence seriously. We know true inclusion goes beyond access to banking and credit. It’s about ensuring the previously marginalised have access to well-functioning financial infrastructure — and the confidence to manage their money.

Karl Socikwa, Sanlam group executive: market development. Picture: SUPPLIED/SANLAM
Karl Socikwa, Sanlam group executive: market development. Picture: SUPPLIED/SANLAM

"Covid-19 highlighted the urgent need for companies to play a more meaningful role in the societies and communities they serve. This means doing the hard work of understanding those communities to know what to do to achieve meaningful inclusion.

“It means asking ourselves how we can move to a space of deliberately designed inclusion. This is the only way to fight inequality stifling growth. We have to move beyond systemic bias to unlock this nation’s potential."

Sanlam’s transformation journey

Empowerment has been at Sanlam’s heart for more than 100 years, the focus of which has shifted over the past century to address the entire demographic of the communities in the geographies it operates in.

More recently, in the late 20th and early 21st century, the group’s commitment to furthering financial inclusion has seen it pioneer some of SA’s biggest, most ground-breaking BBBEE deals. The Sanlam Gauge is a natural extension of this journey.

Sanlam established one of the most influential BBBEE partnerships when it sold a stake in the company to Ubuntu-Botho (UB), a group of black investors led by Patrice Motsepe. The partnership between Sanlam and UB has been one of the most successful empowerment partnerships in SA, creating value of more than R14bn for broad-based black shareholders when the first 10-year transaction matured.

The group’s BBBEE journey began when Sanlam pioneered SA’s first large BEE deal in 1993, when it sold its controlling stake in Metropolitan Life to Methold. This led to the formation of New Africa Investment — the first big black-controlled company to list on the JSE. 

In 2020, African Rainbow Capital (ARC Financial Services acquired 25% of Sanlam’s third-party asset management business and, as a result, Sanlam Investments is the largest black-owned asset manager in SA. Sanlam Group acquired 25% of ARC and this will enable further strategic alignment in the corporate benefits and health insurance segments.

Sanlam has also invested R630m in communities over the past 10 years.

Socikwa says, “For us, deliberate action means getting more people into the mainstream economy, empowering families to have the confidence to manage their money, diversifying our workforce to align with the varied markets we serve, including more people that were historically outside the boardroom into decision-making, and incorporating more local partners in our ecosystems to prompt growth and job creation.

"The Sanlam Group has been a level one BBBEE business for a number of years now and a certified Top Employer for six consecutive years. Our transformation drive has always been purpose-led, with a mission to create shared value for all our stakeholders, including black shareholders.

"We know deliberate action is the only way to achieve true results. The Sanlam Gauge is a way to take stock of progress and to encourage dialogue on how to affect true transformation, to the benefit of all South Africans."


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