BUSA welcomes the opportunity to address the honourable members of the Portfolio Committee on a matter which we believe is of national importance.  We firmly believe that as a country we need to regularly assess progress, or the lack thereof, in areas that are of national and strategic importance.  Given our history of institutionalized and legally enforced discrimination we are of the opinion that any form or allegation of “discrimination in the workplace” need to be tackled and dealt with without any compromise.. 

BUSA is a unified and fully representative organisation that contributes to a vibrant, transforming and growing economy in South Africa representing a very significant number of employers associations and professional bodies including chambers of commerce and unisectoral organisations.

Founded towards the end of 2003, BUSA aims to ensure that organised business plays a constructive role, within the context of the country’s economic growth, development and transformation goals, in achieving an environment in which businesses of all sizes and in all sectors can thrive, expand and be competitive both nationally and internationally.

Our submission will attempt to deal with both the positives and negatives as it would be incorrect to focus on any one of the two.  BUSA believes that in responding to the negative challenges we need to recognize, acknowledge and enforce our successes. 


BUSA fully supports and is committed to the national strategies to transform the economy as part of our drive to create a non-racial and non sexist South Africa.   Firstly we do not see transformation as a government issue.  We also do not see it as a black issue, rather a South African challenge that requires all of us to commit to as South Africans. 


BUSA participated in the drafting of transformation legislation and guidelines and will continue to advocate the implementation and adherence thereto.  The eradication of all forms of discrimination is firmly on the BUSA agenda and in this regard we have a permanent standing committee chaired by Mr Mthunzi Mdwaba to ensure that we actively address relevant issues.

We recognise that the challenges of discrimination at the workplace rears its ugly head in various forms, e.g. race, gender, disability, religion and even sadly in the area of HIV and AIDS.  We propagate a stance of zero tolerance against any forms of unfair discrimination. 

We are pleased that there appears to be a general acceptance of the need for transformation and the elimination of unfair discrimination but as is often the case there is a clear gap between good intentions and implementation.

Since 1993 a lot of positive developments have taken place in the business environment.  There has certainly been progress in many areas in addressing previously unacceptable policies and behaviour and it is important that we recognise and applaud those business men and women who continually strive to make a difference.  Given the overall picture we can best describe the progress made as being pockets of excellence rather than awarding business a prize for overall performance.

On the positive we have seen significant progress that we can not ignore if we want to comprehensively identify areas of poor performance and solutions for redress. BUSA would like to site some of the areas of successes to ensure that we do not wrongly project a business environment that is holistically opposed to transformation.  The truth is that many companies have embraced transformation and are implementing employment equity in the midst of the challenges.


          Since 1994 most medium and large companies have revised their internal policies and procedures to conform to equity legislation. BUSA is aware that until the late eighties in sectors such as mining, the law prevented blacks from occupying and performing certain functions.  Today most companies have introduced anti discrimination policies and procedures amounting to “zero tolerance” of any form of discrimination in their recruitment, selection, appointment and promotion practices.  


          With reference to the 2006- 2007 CEE Report 73% of persons employed in permanent positions were black as is the case with the 87% of persons employed in non permanent positions.  It is important to highlight these figures as we are aware that blacks have always constituted the highest percentage of the unemployed in SA.

          There has been a steady increase in the number of black executives at top management: viz. 12, 7 % in 2000 to 22,  2% in 2006.  This figure represents almost a double of the 2000 figure. The increasing employment of black persons into senior management positions from 18, 5% in 2000 to 26, 9% in 2006 is also representing some degree of progress although not satisfactory.


          On another hand there has been an increase of 9, 2% of women in top management positions.

According to the Business Women’s Association Census Report of 2006 t
he greatest area of improvement in the advancement of women is at directorship level: while the first study showed that only 7.1% of all directors were women, the latest census places this figure at 11.5 %.

Companies are certainly making an effort to appoint women onto their boards. Although only 24.5% of South African boards have two or more women directors, with 43.4% of these boards having no women directors at all, the situation has improved considerably since 2004 and 2005, when more than half of all boards had no women directors.

Although women representation on boards of JSE listed companies increased by 1.1% to 10, 3%, SOEs continue to outperform their private sector counterparts in this metric, with 31, 3% of all director positions held by women.  This is one area BUSA and its members will seek to find ways of ensuring that we make progress as the private sector.

          BUSA welcomes and supports the leadership role that some sectors are taking through initiatives such as sectoral charters, e.g. the financial sector charter and the information technology sector charter. 

          Notwithstanding the positives, BUSA is concerned that some companies have not come to the party. It is these companies that erode the good work done by the majority. 

As BUSA, as much as we applaud those who are making concerted efforts, we will not defend or speak well of those in the business world who are either doing very little, nothing or who even are agitating against transformation. 

We need to identify some of the symptoms that have contributed to this lack of progress.

          There has been a lack of “thinking out of the box” and therefore not identifying creative ways of addressing transformation challenges by some companies.

          We are concerned at the inadequate monitoring systems at all levels – from Government sectors to companies.  This is a serious flaw as it allows for too many players “to fly undetected below the radar screen” and by pure abstinence to carry on with business as usual and be lost in the crowd.  This can be seen by a decrease in the number of reports that have been submitted to the Department of Labour.

          Hand in hand with the inadequate monitoring is unfortunately the element of complacency that has crept into the business environment.  This can be seen by a decrease in the number of black persons employed from a percentage of 78% in 2005 to 73% in 2006 and a decrease in the number of black professionals and middle management from 44, 1% in 2000 to 36, 5% in 2006.

          One of the drawbacks in the business environment has been an intellectual commitment by many players without a concomitant emotional commitment or “commitment from the heart”.  It is this latter commitment that has created the previously referred to pockets of excellence.

          Economic realities have also dictated patterns in the broad addressing of transformation evidencing that where there are pressure points delivery tends to be accelerated, e.g. government procurement and the issuing of licences.

          In many instances a lack of progress can be equated to a lack of strong leadership in the transformation arena with the key issues being relegated to non “business agendas” and being dealt with by support functions rather than core business functions.

          Inadequate reviewing of processes and policies that directly impact on the elimination of discrimination and that promote transformation.

          Too many instances of justifying non compliance instead of finding ways of complying.  A lack of adequate skills often given as a reason for non compliance with very little effort having been made over the past 13 years to develop the skills needed.

          Lack of attention and focus on addressing gender imbalances. Although the number of women executive managers has increased, indications are that, in relative terms, women are losing ground in this category. According to the BWA Census Report 2006 the latest results show that, based on information submitted by respondent companies, 16.8% of executive management positions are held by women, compared to 19.8% for the previous year. The decline is significant given the substantial increase in the overall number of executive management positions (from 5558 in the 2005 Census to 7890 in the 2006 study).

In 2005 and 2006, of the 362 directorships held by women, 48, 1% were held by black women. This is in sharp contrast to the race split in executive management positions, which shows that 77% of all women executive managers in South Africa are white.

          The decrease in the employment of persons with disability from 1% to 0, 7%.

          Many developmental opportunities being missed through inept or inadequate planning. 

Perhaps the question that now needs to be asked is “quo vadis”?

As indicated in the introduction BUSA supports government policy and legislation encouraging transformation and we are open minded in exploring areas that need to be revisited in creating an environment that will speed up the transformation process which we believe will in turn be a key factor in achieving increased economic growth.

Some initiatives that are being considered include inter alia the following:


          A renewed commitment by business leaders to accelerate transformation with a definite link to the eradication of discrimination at the workplace.

          Explore better monitoring through co-regulation, self regulation and private-public sector partnerships.

          Specific sector based initiatives.

          The development of transformation guides.

          The implementation of annual BUSA Transformations Awards to recognize good practice.

          Improved links between business and the unemployed.

          Capacity building of previously disadvantaged business groups.


Implementation of the Employment Equity Act and other transformation legislation is not a “nice to have” but rather a national and business imperative and BUSA will increase its efforts in facilitating delivery.