The array of new
employment principles is breathtaking,
and often confusing to follow.
Lisa Tait, a
trainer in BBBEE for AstroTech, who
has been lecturing on equity in
employment for at least a decade,
says the "codes of good practice
when finalised by the department of
trade and industry will make the
impact on the workplace of BBBEE
more pervasive. Because there is so
much change around BBBEE, it is
imperative that one receives ongoing
If you are serious
about doing business in South Africa, it
is imperative to be BBBEE compliant.
In terms of the 2003 Black Economic
Empowerment Act, "black" is a person who
is African, coloured or Indian.
In the code, a person also has to be a
South African citizen by birth or
naturalisation as at April 27 1994.
"Transformation is an enormous
opportunity in South Africa. We
lived for a long time with outdated
paradigms. Business accepted
practices that may not have been as
effective as they could have been."
Let's take a look at
why. Under apartheid, 13 percent of the
land was reserved for 85 percent of the
people, all of them black. Black people
were not allowed to be managers or have
They could not own businesses in white
areas - the communities where most money
resided. The list goes on.
enormous opportunities for looking
at ourselves introspectively,
looking at gender, technology, race
issues, how to make the workplace
different. BEE is a catalyst for
positive change," Tait says,
In terms of BEE,
companies have to comply with a generic
scorecard directed towards ownership,
skills development and preferential
Research by Empowerdex shows that black
directors hold 24,9 percent of all board
positions on the Johannesburg Stock
Exchange, up from a fraction of one
percent in 1994. Black women hold only
5,6 percent of all board positions on
According to Tait,
"a common misperception is that the
sale of equity in a company is the
beginning and end of narrow-based
If a company makes a
decision to sell equity, it would be
better if the company first looked at
its own business and evaluated whether
it is better to bring in outside
partners or maybe create an employee
Do you reward the already rich, or do
you spread real empowerment among those
loyal to your organisation?
In a country with 40 percent
unemployment (according to Stats SA) and
57 percent living in poverty (according
to the Human Sciences Research Council),
the sort of equity demanded by BEE is
still a long way off.
Tait explains that there are different
sorts of BEE: "To sell equity is known
as transfer BEE. The downside of that is
that unless an employee trust is
created, there is no assurance of job
security for employees.
BEE, on the other hand, deals with
other aspects in a company such as
corporate social investment and
procurement. It is in the elements
of skills, employment equity and CSI
that people need to see benefits."
What about complaints
that BEE discriminates against white
Tait puts the
complaint into a factual perspective:
"White employment has not decreased in
the new South Africa, it has increased.
It might be more difficult for white
males and females entering the job
market, but people with skills are
needed for a growing economy.
"We live in an
economy where there are more
opportunities but you have to be
better at what you do to seize them.
You need to add value."
Liza van Wyk is
Managing Director of AstroTech.
For more information on AstroTech
courses on BEE and balanced scorecard
essentials, or one of their courses,
www.AstroTech.co.za or email: