Legislative amendments are in the pipeline to enforce compliance with the employment equity law and to provide incentives for employers who fulfil their obligations. The proposals are intended to accelerate transformation in the workplace.
Last week, the Employment Equity Commission released its report for 2017, which showed that white men still dominate senior management echelons with their representation far exceeding their share of the economically active population.
Black representation at these levels rose by only about 1% year on year since 2001, which commission chairwoman Tabea Kabinde says is a "very slow" rate.
The proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act have been approved by the National Economic Development and Labour Council and will be released for public comment in the near future.
Kabinde said the amendments were intended to provide incentives to companies that did well by enabling them to do business with the government.
One amendment will be a change in the definition of designated employers (those required to comply with the act) to remove their turnover threshold, though not the number of employees.
Business Unity SA said it supported any measure that would free up small business from the regulatory burden of compliance. The existing system was "riddled with non-enforcement and the associated noncompliance", it said.
A further amendment will see sectors setting transformation targets to replace the system of self-imposed targets that companies set themselves.
Kabinde said there was an expectation that companies set themselves higher targets to improve their employment equity, but in many cases they just stood still. "Self-imposed targets are not giving the results we want in terms of moving closer to the economically active population statistics."