Masoka Dube

By Masoka Dube

Journalist


White dominance in top jobs sparks union outcry

Unions demand government action following report on racial imbalance in corporate leadership.


Labour unions are lambasting the government for failing to ensure that companies operating in the country employ all racial groups and employ women in top management positions.

The federations were reacting to the recent Commission of Employment Equity report released by the department of employment and labour. It indicated that whites are dominant in top management positions in South Africa’s workforce.

It revealed that whites occupied 62.1% and Indians 11.6% of all positions at the top management level, which is significantly higher than their respective economically active populations (EAPs).

The African population group with an EAP of 80.7% accounted for 17.2% and the coloured population group with an EAP of 9% accounted for only 6.1% of all positions at this occupational level.

According to the statistics, foreign nationals occupying top management positions were at 3.0%.

Private sector overwhelmingly led by white men

The report found SA’s private sector was overwhelmingly led by white men at 48% of top management positions, followed by white women at 13% and then black men at 10%.

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Yesterday, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said, “Numsa has noted the statistics on employment equity are very disappointing because it shows that we have not made much progress in the last 30 years.”

“We have been very consistent that the government must prioritise this issue because we are a country that even now is still recovering from the impact of decades of apartheid and colonialism, where racism and race were used as a weapon against black people.

“Our government has not been intentional enough in ensuring that more black people occupy space in top management positions,” said Hlubi-Majola.

“It is clear that the private sector is not committed to the transformation agenda because if it was, then the statistics would not be as bad as they are.

Private sector undermine justice and equity programmes

“The private sector continues to undermine programmes to ensure justice and equity in the workplace.”

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) also lamented the slow pace of transformation in the workplace.

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Cosatu spokesperson Matthew Parks said while they welcomed the noticeable change in the representation of historically disadvantaged groups in middle management, “it was unacceptable that 30 years into democracy, race and gender profiling of workers continues to be a lived reality in boardrooms as opposed to the appointment of candidates based on their skills, qualifications and experience”.

Parks urged the department to vigorously implement the Employment Equity Act.

“It’s been close to a year since the Amendment Act came into effect on 1 September, 2023, making provisions for the government to strengthen its interventions and ability to hold employers accountable for their role and failures to adhere to the Act.

“Employers must be held accountable for noncompliance, which is the main culprit behind the leeway for selected individuals to top management positions,” said Parks.

‘Act upon findings’

Parks urged Minister for Employment and Labour Nomakhosazana Meth to ensure the department was fully capacitated to act upon the findings of the report with the urgency it deserves.

Department of employment and labour spokesperson Teboho Thejane had not responded to the questions by the time of going to print.

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