EMPLOYMENT EQUITY WINNERS AND LOSERS: The state of employment equity, diversity and transformation Marius Meyer

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Last week the Employment Equity Commission launched the 2017/18 Employment Equity Report. As expected, the report once again showed little progress in the transformation of South African workplaces, especially at top and senior management levels. Thus, the state of employment equity leaves a lot to be desired, especially if we consider the 24-year period of the democratic dispensation in South Africa.  Sadly, corporate South Africa once again are the losers, but today I want to share some of the winners with you.

Over the last few years, the month of May has been celebrated as #WorkersMonth by the  Department of Labour.  SABPP decided to support these efforts by launching our employment equity, diversity and transformation (EEDT) awards in the month of May.  It is essential for HR Managers to be leaders in EEDT, given the fact that they are key role-players and preparing and submitting employment equity plans to the Department of Labour. In this way, HR Professionals can be seen as agents of transformation. As change management specialists, HR professionals are responsible for managing the EEDT change management processes. While government and other commentators have often criticised business for the slow pace of transformation, this year SABPP decided to focus on encouraging our HR Managers to accelerate the implementation of employment equity and affirmative action interventions in the workplace.

The 2018 EEDT award winners are as follows:

All of the above award categories were conceptualised by a specialised EEDT Committee and adjudicated by a team of senior employment equity judges.  In short, the seven award categories focused on answering these questions:

  1. Which organisation focused the best on creating an HR enabling environment with good HR practices driving employment equity?
  2. Which organisation was best in creating a diversity and inclusion culture supporting EEDT?
  3. Which organisation was best at using affirmative action measures in driving EEDT?
  4. Which individual played the most prominent role as a change agent in making EEDT happen?
  5. Which organisation was best at being an employer of people with disabilities?
  6. Which organisation was best as a gender equity employer, i.e. achieving success in employing women in senior management positions?
  7. Which organisation managed to integrate and align all aspects of EEDT into a comprehensive and holistic approach to employment equity meeting both compliance requirements and driving business performance?

I would like to congratulate the above companies with their excellent EEDT strategies and plans. They all deserved their awards and managed to achieve significant progress in employment equity. All of them have used very innovative approaches to accelerate EEDT in the workplace. In particular, a special word of congratulations to Nedbank for not only winning three of the specialist category awards, but also for being the overall winner of the 2018 EEDT Awards programme.  It is therefore also no co-incidence that Richard Khumalo, the Employment Equity specialist at Nedbank was the winner of the Change Agent Award, as a result of his excellent work in driving employment equity at the bank.

While we started with the EEDT awards this year, we do hope that the awards will inspire other companies to also accelerate their EEDT efforts and programmes so that they can enter for next year’s awards programme.  By ensuring that the EEDT awards run on an annual basis, we can track progress and position employment equity as a top priority for HR Managers, thus continuing with professional initiatives in accelerating employment equity in the workplace.  It is my wish that these awards must continue to be issued until we have achieved equality in the workplace.

I thank the HR and business community for their participation and involvement in the 2018 EEDT awards and I invite other companies and their HR professionals to join the programme in 2019.  We now have a full year to intensify and improve our EEDT plans with the view of achieving even greater successes in the future.  It is my wish that the EEDT Awards will play a role in turning the current slow progress in employment equity around.   As an HR community, let us come to the party and show the Employment Equity Commission next year that HR will stand up as transformation change agents and transform our workplaces.

Marius Meyer is CEO of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP), the HR and quality assurance body managing the EEDT awards programme for South Africa.