Women in South Africa will remain marginalised for decades to come because the “painfully” slow pace of transformation in the country’s economy will not change much in the near future. This was the sentiment that dominated discussions at a webinar on Management Control and the Status of Women in Transformation hosted jointly by the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Commission and the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) today.

A group of experts and women leaders interrogated the annual reports on management control and the status of women in economic transformation during the session. The panel of speakers comprised of the Deputy President of the Black Management Forum, Ms Tasneem Fredericks, the Secretary-General of the Black Business Council, Ms Judi Nwokedi, Non-Executive Director at Telkom SA SOC Limited, Ms Khanyisile Kweyama and the CEO of Zindela Communications, Ms Nomathemba Malinga, The Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina delivered the keynote speech.

The B-BBEE Commissioner, Ms Zodwa Ntuli and the Chairperson of the CEE, Ms Tabea Kabinde provided the overview of their reports. According to the National Status and Trends on B-BBEE report for 2019, overall black ownership is 29% (2018: 25%; 2017, 27%) with black women ownership being 12% (2018: 10%; 2017: 9%), while black women occupy 20.55% of the board positions on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). The Commission for Employment Equity report shows that males occupy 75.6% of the top management positions with women accounting only for 24.4%, and the white group dominates overall top management level at 65.6%. White and Indian groups are over-represented at top and senior management when compared to the Economically Active Population (EAP).

Deputy Minister Gina described the fact that management control and ownership scorecard for women was still far below acceptable levels in terms of companies’ agenda of inclusion as “absurd” and “anomalous”.

The facilitator of the session, Ms Thuli Magubane, who is a business and finance expert, said research conducted by the World Economic Forum last year has shown that it would take 180 years to plug the gap of inequality between men and women in the workplace.

“Unfortunately, we do not have that kind of time. We need to make sure that we are moving. In South Africa, we are working at achieving some form of gender parity by 2030. A lot still needs to happen and research shows that we are not moving in the right direction to achieve the target. We need a concerted effort and people that will be able to help us move forward, at a faster pace. We need both women and men to be on board and work together to achieve this goal. As a country, we do have the right tools such as frameworks and policies but we are not making the right impact. It seems like we do not have the will to make a difference in our society and bring about gender parity when it comes to economic participation in our country,” said Magubane.

Commissioner Ntuli said inequality was still dominant in South Africa. She eemphasised that women should take their rightful position in the economy. However, she said due to several issues including patriarchy, women were still lagging behind.  She lamented the fact that women continued to have less and less access to procurement opportunities. But she expressed hope that the government decision to allocate 40% of the state’s procurement spend to majority women-owned companies as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa recently, will be implemented sooner.

Ntuli also voiced out her disappointment with the private sector for persisting with the tick-box exercise and using women for fronting.

“I urge women to come to the Commission to report whenever they notice that they were being used as tokens for fronting, against which consequences should be brought to bear on perpetrators,” said Ntuli.

Fredericks said women, in their numbers, should be in the forefront of the transformation agenda if they hoped to accelerate the pace of transformation for them to capture a noticeable chunk of the ownership and control of the South African economy.

“Some South Africa companies would rather pay fines than comply with B-BBEE requirements. That is how willing corporate companies are to embrace transformation even though transformation is supposed a strategic goal of every company. Gender equality is part of the United National Sustainable Development Goals, which are meant to be reached by 2030. But at this pace we will be dead without realising that dream,” adds Fredericks.

Kwenyama said women needed to equip themselves with both financial and commercial skills in order to manouvre the intricacies of the corporate world and be able to make sound and strategic decisions.

“It is imperative to arm yourself with skills, knowledge and information, as well as survival skills as you need to have a tough skin in order to survive and get recognition in the boardroom. In addition to the soft skills, we also need to embrace each other as women and work together,” added Kwenyama.

Nwokedi said the two reports had revealed that the white and Indian population groups are still overrepresented; males still confirmed designed groups; male privileges and white privileges are still prevalent in the corridors of power; and that the white male is still the preferred protected species. Malinga called for the private sector to its utmost to support, implement and promote the transformation agenda.

Issued on behalf of the B-BBEE Commission by:
Sidwell Medupe – Departmental Spokesperson
Department of Trade, Industry and Competition
Tel: +27 12 394 1650
Mobile : +27 79 492 1774
E-mail : MSMedupe@thedtic.gov.za
Follow us on Twitter: @the_dti

The B-BBEE Commission was established in terms of section 13B of the B-BBEE Act 53 of 2003 as amended by Act No 46 of 2013 with powers effective from 6 June 2016. The B-BBEE Commission’s mandate, amongst others, is to supervise and encourage adherence to the B-BBEE Act in the interest of the public, conduct reactive and proactive investigations and promote good governance and accountability by creating an effective and efficient environment for the promotion and implementation of the objectives of broad-based black economic empowerment.

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