Good morning to you all!
Today, once again, on an annual basis, we take this opportunity to thank the Commission for Employment Equity for their hard work in producing this annual report, which reflects on the progress made on the implementation of the Employment Equity Act since its enactment 24 years ago.
Listening to the Chairperson's presentation, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate our successes, but at the same time, not shy away from taking a critical look at our shortcomings in order to address them. We must always be fully aware that two critical paths exist for the implementation of this Act, which is:
· the elimination of unfair discrimination in the workplace and
· the implementation of affirmative action measures to ensure the equitable representation of the designated groups (i.e. Black people, women and persons with disabilities) across all occupational levels in the workforce.
An increase in the number of employment equity reports submitted by designated employers signifies that we are moving towards pre-Covid19 pandemic levels. Data is also showing that most of the reports received by the Department are from the Private Sector (95.2%) and from the biggest metropolitan areas in the country that is Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. With the large number of reports received from the Manufacturing sector followed by the Wholesale and Retail and Agriculture sectors, it is apparent that these sectors are amongst the largest employers in our country.
I note with great concern the slow progress made regarding the representation of the African and Coloured population groups in the two upper occupational levels, i.e the Top Management and Senior Management levels. Good strides are being made at the Professionally Qualified, Middle Management and Skilled Technical levels; however, these positive gains do not translate into significant workforce movements in the two upper echelons of organisations. The over-representation of Whites and Indians at the upper occupational levels and their under representation at the lower occupational levels remain a concern.
The significant progress made in the representation of nearly all the population groups, which is much more aligned to the demographics of the Economically Active Population (EAP) in the Public Service when compared to the Private Sector is noted and is commendable.
However, we should all frown upon the insignificant progress made in the representation of persons with disabilities, which is very low in both the Public Service (1%) and in the Private Sector (1%). It is said that if we had to measure our success in the upliftment of our society, then we must measure the progress made in making lives better for the most vulnerable groups – and particularly persons with disabilities.
I hope that the proposed Employment Equity Act amendments will serve as a game changer and a catalyst in expediting the pace of transformation of our workplaces. It cannot be business as usual when the majority of our people continue to suffer unfair discrimination and are denied equal opportunities to compete on an equal footing for strategic decision-making positions in our workplaces.
I urge all sector stakeholders to engage effectively in the sector consultation process on the setting of sector specific Employment Equity targets taking into account the plight of those vulnerable groups who are still excluded from participating fully in our economy.
All of us as social partners, have a duty to ensure that we become agents of change by taking charge of transformation initiatives starting with our own workplaces, and then the economy as a whole. We should all make employment equity and transformation a central part of our business imperatives.
I thank you!
© 2019 - The South African Department of Employment & Labour