Employment equity report shows slow progress

The “gross underrepresentation” of black people‚ women and people with disabilities in key areas of the labour force — for example in management and in science and technology — remained a feature of the workforce‚ the 2011-12 annual report of the Commission for Employment Equity has found.

The report‚ launched by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant in Parliament on Tuesday morning‚ made very clear that men and white people were more likely to be recruited and promoted than any other group‚ while progress in the employment of people with disabilities remained “rather dismal”.

The report found that at top management Africans represented only 18.5%‚ compared with 18.8% last year; coloureds 4.8% (3.9%); Indians 7.5% (6.1%); whites 65.4% (68.1%); and foreign nationals 3.9% (3.1%). The commission found that Africans at this level remained “grossly underrepresented” with the year-on-year decline a matter of grave concern.

At senior management African representation rose over the year to 21.8% from 18.1%‚ coloureds from 6.1% to 7% and Indians from 8.2% to 9.6%‚ while white representation declined from 65.2% to 59.1%.

Among professionals‚ African representation rose year on year from 24.1% to 36.3%‚ coloureds from 8.5% to 10.2% and Indians from 8.7% to 9.1%‚ while white representation declined from 57.2% to 42.3%. Skilled technical Africans increased sharply‚ from 44.1% to 57%‚ while coloureds declined from 12.8% to 11.5%‚ Indians from 6.7% to 6.2% and whites from 35.6% to 24%.

The commission noted the positive trends‚ for example among the skilled and professionally qualified‚ where equitable representation would be achieved “in the not so distant future if current progression patterns continue”.

The same could not be said for senior and top management. Although whites accounted for the highest number of terminations at this level‚ they also accounted for the most number of recruitments and promotions.

A shocking finding of the report was the performance of the Western Cape compared with other provinces.

It was found to be the worst performing province in terms of race at nearly every occupational level and also the worst in relation to black women‚ even when taking the provincial demographics into account.

The Western Cape had performed badly both in the public and private sector in respect of employing black people‚ both men and women.

The achievements of Woolworths‚ which has recently been criticised for its transformation strategies‚ were lauded by the commission‚ which praised the company’s progress in achieving employment equity. – I-Net Bridge

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