ENGAGING: Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant says the Commission for Employment Equity will discuss the slow pace of workplace transformation with business leaders. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
ENGAGING: Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant says the Commission for Employment Equity will discuss the slow pace of workplace transformation with business leaders. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

THE Department of Labour has called on company bosses to be directly involved in championing employment equity in the workplace and not to leave such matters to junior staff.

The department held a roadshow in the Western Cape after the release of the employment equity report by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant earlier in 2016.

The report found the racial profile of top management in SA remained overwhelmingly white and male. Whites in the private sector accounted for 72.4% of all top management positions — compared to the public sector, which has 73.2% African representation.

In the Western Cape, just more than 75% of top management positions were occupied by whites, the Department of Labour said. Oliphant said the Commission for Employment Equity would engage with business leaders to establish what causes the snail’s pace of workplace transformation.

Zoleka Ntshoza, deputy director for inspection and enforcement services in the Western Cape, said employment equity should not be left to junior staff to navigate.

"CEOs need to be directly involved in employment equity issues at the workplace … Employment equity must not be a secret in the workplace. It is imperative that you share your equity plans and reports with staff," said Ntshoza.

Commission for Employment Equity chairwoman Tabea Kabinde has stated the private sector and educational institutions are the slowest in terms of transformation. Julian Mohale, project leader for the department on the employment equity roadshows, said coloureds occupied only 12.1% of top management positions in the Western Cape in 2015, while they made up 48.2% of the labour force in the province. Africans in top management reflected 4.7% while Indians made up 3.4% of top management in the Western Cape.

Cape Chamber of Commerce president Janine Myburgh said the chamber fully supported the principles of employment equity but "it is difficult to generalise about the percentage of top managers who are white".

"Conditions differ from industry to industry and many of them are affected by skills shortages, particularly in engineering and scientific industries. We encourage our members to implement employment equity and broad-based BEE principles but we are not in a position to intervene," she said.

"However, talent is equally distributed irrespective of race, and once the required skills become more evenly spread among the population, we expect the ratio of management in terms of race to approach that which reflects society at large. But we fully support the implementation and ethos of BEE," said Myburgh.

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