SAIRR Today: Slow progress in reaching equity goals - 16th April 2010

Data received from Commission for Employment Equity in 2009 paints a picture of inequality both in terms of gender and in terms of race.

The workplace in South Africa has historically been characterised by disparities among men and women, and among blacks and whites. Data released by the Commission for Employment Equity in 2009 reveals that disproportion is still apparent today, even with the implementation of broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) and affirmative action. The data was based on employment equity reports submitted by companies to the Department of Labour in 2007.

In 2007, 68% of top management in South African companies was white with white men accounting for 58% and white women 10% of top management positions. Some 19% of these positions were held by Africans of which 13% were men and 6% were women. Coloured people accounted for 4% of top management positions of which 3% were held by men and 1% were held by women. Indians made up 6% of top management, Indian men accounted for 5% of these positions while women accounted for 1%. The remaining 3% were filled by foreign nationals.

In senior management, some 65% of positions were filled by white people of which 50% were held by men and 15% were held by women. Africans accounted for 18% of senior management positions with African men accounting for 13% and women for 5%. Some 6% of positions at this level were filled by coloureds with coloured men accounting for 4% and coloured women for 2%. Indians made up 8% of the senior management workforce, with 6% of positions held by Indian men and 2% by Indian women. Foreign nationals accounted for the remaining 2%.

Some 58% of employees who were professionally qualified and those who filled middle management positions were white, 39% positions were held by white men and 19% by white women. Africans made up 25% of people employed at this level, of which 16% were made up by men men and 9% made up by women. Coloured people accounted for 8% of middle management with men accounting for 5% and women for 3%. Some 9% of middle managers were Indian, of whom 6% were men and 3% were women. Foreign nationals accounted for the remaining 1%.

At the skilled level of employment, white people accounted for 35% of the total of which 20% were men and 15% were women. Africans made up 45% of people employed at this level with men accounting for 31% and women for 14%. Coloureds accounted for 13% of skilled workers, of which 7% were women and 6% were women. Indians made up 7% of skilled workers with men accounting for 4% and women for 3%. The remaining 1% was filled by foreign nationals.

Correcting these imbalances requires action from all stakeholders. The most important of these actions should come from the Government through its education policies and systems. The Institute has published volumes of data over many years that highlight the very poor quality of education available to black people. The State has to improve the levels and quality of education for black people, the majority of whom remain disadvantaged.

- Nthamaga Kgafela

[Figures should add up to 100%, but may not due to rounding]