The Commission for Employment Equity’s “fixation” on top management in its annual report was criticised by trade union Solidarity on Monday.
“Like in previous years, it fixates on a tiny part of the South African labour force, namely top management,” said Paul Joubert, senior economic researcher at Solidarity. “In addition, the commission’s analysis of the labour market is again seriously flawed, which shows either an inability or an unwillingness to do a proper analysis.”
According to the report, the percentage of white people in top management was 70% in 2014, compared to 72.6% in 2012 and 73.1% in 2010. The percentage of men in top management was 81% in 2010, 80.2% in 2012 and 79.2% in 2014.
Solidarity pointed out that the report reveals that top managers constitute less than 1% of the workforce. From a total of over seven million employees employed by 24 291 employers covered by the report, only 57 901 people are at top management level. “This means that on average there are only 2.4 top managers per company,” said Joubert.
Top managers in family businesses
“The commission does not at all take into account the fact that the majority of businesses only has one or a handful of top managers,” he said. “It is unusual for a smallish company with little more than 50 employees to have more than one top manager.”
“Many businesses are run as family businesses, or have been established by a specific entrepreneur who is also the only top manager,” said Joubert. “Apparently, the commission expects that such an entrepreneur, if he is white, should replace himself with a black person to ‘correct’ the ‘representation’ of this one person at top management level.”
“The alternative would be that nine additional top managers must be appointed, all of them black. For an Indian entrepreneur, the situation is even more absurd, as to reach Indian ‘representivity’ of only 2.8% at top management level in his firm, he would have to appoint 35 additional employees at this level,” Joubert said.
Joubert said that although the commission has a host of data available to do a comprehensive analysis of the labour market, including all relevant factors, “the commission’s analyses remain flawed and one-sided year after year”.
“In view of the fact that there are 8.7 million unemployed people in South Africa at the moment, the commission’s focus on the 57 901 top managers is totally misplaced,” Joubert said.
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