Another half-century needed for real transformation in the workplace, says the CEE

Covid-19 has affected equity, with Africans, females and people with disabilities still under-represented.

It will take at least 50 years to see real transformation in the workplaces if the current pace of employment equity implementation in the top echelons is allowed to persist, according to the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE).

“The CEE report is a wake-up call to the government that self-regulation by employers to achieve the objectives of EE legislation has not worked. We now need a more aggressive strategy including a review of legislation. The EE Bill currently in Parliament is a catalyst to expedite transformation in the workplace. We have heard the cries of the vulnerable groups – women and the people living with disability," said Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi.

He was speaking at the launch of the CEE annual report, which was unveiled under the theme, “Transformation makes business sense”, and covered the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

CEE chairperson Tabea Kabinde said white population groups continue to dominate the top levels at workplaces, despite their minority representation in terms of the economically active population (EAP).

In terms of the national economically active by population group and gender, the report shows that males accounted for 55.4 percent – with African males accounting for 43.7 percent, coloured males 4.8 percent, Indian males 1.8 percent and white males 5.1 percent.

Women accounted for 44.6 percent of EAP – with African females accounting for 35.6 percent, coloured females 4.1 percent, Indian females 1.0 percent and white females 3.9 percent.

The report analysis covered the six occupational levels of the workforce profile and movements according to population groups, gender and disability for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020.

In addition, it provided the status of employment equity in the various economic sectors and business types reported in 2020. Furthermore, an analysis is provided of the workplace barriers and affirmative action measures reported by designated employers for the 2020 reporting period.

Women, people with disabilities
The CEE launched the report on the back of the EE Amendment Bill currently underway in Parliament.

According to Kabinde, at top management level, the white population group dominates at 64.7 percent with the African group accounting for 15.8 percent, Indian at 10.6 percent and coloured at 5.7 percent. She said the commission had observed a one percent drop annually in the representation of the white group.

Female representation has remained below 25 percent throughout all the reporting periods, with white and Indian female representation remaining much higher than their EAP at the top management level.

The commission has observed the high representation of foreign nationals, particularly in the private sector at top management level.
Kabinde said it was at a professional level that there was a critical mass of Africans, however, they are still unable to break through the glass ceiling. At this level Africans account for 46.7 percent representation, while the white group has a 32.1 percent representation, with coloured people at 9.7 percent and Indian people at 9.1 percent representation.

The skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled levels are exclusively dominated by the African group. Workplaces becoming more inclusive of persons with disabilities displayed a concerning trend across all occupational levels over three years, standing at 1.3 percent in 2020 (compared to one percent in 2018).

The Covid-19 effect on the economy also affected equity which was reflected in the 1.8 percent drop in the number of reports received and a 3.8 percent drop in the number of employees covered. In 2020 a total of 26,635 reports were submitted by designated employers.