B-B BEE Beyond
‘2019 | Hit the Ground Running’
B-B BEE Beyond
‘2019 | Hit the Ground Running’
This is the third in a series of ‘Beyond the Boardroom’ articles addressing all aspects of the Codes. In this series, the members of the Sage BEE123
Advisory Team share unique insight as to what drives successful transformation. As we come to the end of the first quarter of 2019, the team shares
red-flag areas that pose a risk to an organisation’s transformation progress and investment, as well as tips for optimising their scorecard outcome.
The BEE123 Advisory Team represents a unique set of skills with its collective expertise gained first-hand from a corporate, verification and
consulting perspective. The BEE123 Advisory Team, led by Managing Director Saul Symanowitz, is made up of Micah Gengan, Rene Van Der Walt,
Yonela Ntsaluba, Bhavna Maharaj, Tando Dubeni and Denvor Phokaners.
Top Tip 1 | B-BBEE Buy-in
Vital to the buy-in and ultimate success of a B-BBEE Strategy is that
an organisation’s workforce has a holistic understanding of B-BBEE,
the rationale behind its implementation, what the intent of the ‘Spirit of
the Codes’ is and the positive impact proper implementation will have
on both the business and society at large. Agreed, the inner workings
of B-BBEE are complex; however, a holistic overview, in short, is
B-BBEE is a legal framework designed to meaningfully
include more people in the economy.
It increases the number of people paying taxes, which
translates into a healthy fiscus.
Through broader economic participation, it lessens the
number of recipients claiming Government’s social grants.
Taxes collected will be available to invest in infrastructures
such as roads, schools and housing projects that will
benefit the broader South African Community.
The result - economic growth is stimulated, which will
ultimately benefit all South Africans.
When educating a workforce, it must be clear that B-BBEE compliance
is not a legal requirement, but a choice. Following this, the purpose for
choosing B-BBEE as a way forward and business imperative, as well as
the benefits it can afford an organisation, must be outlined.
Most importantly, however, there must be real support from top
management down to encourage the entire workforce to meet their
B-BBEE targets and achieve the overall objectives of an organisation.
Top Tip 2 | Take Control of your B-BBEE
The key to a successfully implemented B-BBEE Strategy is taking
control of it. There are organisations that all too often view B-BBEE
as a tick-box exercise to be outsourced. In other words, just writing
a cheque. In saying this, outsourcing some elements of a B-BBEE
Strategy to B-BBEE Professionals is necessary. However, in doing this,
people within an organisation must have a good grasp of the
Code they are measured on and how B-BBEE affects their business.
The consequence of choosing a B-BBEE Professional not fully
versed on the Code on which an organisation is measured may result in
a delivery shortfall. It is critical that the advice rendered is in fact in line
with the expectations of the Codes and will benefit an organisation
in the long-run
Often organisations over-simplify B-BBEE. They are not fully aware of
the consequences of not completing a task accurately, through merely
ticking the box, or being found guilty of Fronting. Due to the complexity
of a verification, there is a general lack of knowledge surrounding the
technical aspects of the Codes, which often leads to the overuse of
B-BBEE Consultants. Such lack of knowledge is reflected in how
an organisation chooses their B-BBEE Consultant to guide them
in implementing their strategy. Without fundamental insight into the
expectations of the Code on which an organisation is measured, there
is a risk of aligning with a B-BEE Consultant who is either not capable
or purposely skews the ethical line of compliance. All business owners,
directors and those tasked with driving a B-BBEE Strategy must be
involved in the implementation process, as well as understand how and
why the B-BBEE Strategy will move forward, coupled with a good grasp
of the legislation supporting B-BBEE.
There are two routes organisations can take. One is where
an organisation has control over their B-BBEE Strategy and
implementation, and the other is where it does not. In the first instance,
an organisation would have a knowledgeable, competent team driving
their B-BBEE, using consultants to optimise points on their scorecard.
On the flip side is an organisation that chooses not to learn the inner
workings of the expectations of B-BBEE. They then rely on consultants,
in the hope that the advice they receive is in line with the expectations
of the Codes. However, this outcome will only become apparent at
the conclusion of their next verification measurement. Besides, more
often than not, such a route will typically not result in meaningful
transformation or add long-term strategic value to the business.
Top Tip 3 | Outside Intervention
When choosing a B-BBEE Consultant to drive a B-BBEE Strategy,
it is imperative that due diligence is done to ensure that they are
appropriately qualified and have the necessary accreditations. They
must be fully versed on the Code on which an organisation is measured,
with a full understanding of the sector in which they operate. Essentially
a B-BBEE Consultant must drive a B-BBEE Strategy that adds value to
an organisation. The goals from measurement-to-measurement must
be realistic, ethical and drive real transformation. Organisations must be
cognizant of the following:
1 Be cautious of a B-BBEE Consultant who guarantees a specific
Status Level at the following verification measurement. Unfortunately,
there is no B-BBEE crystal ball. For example, moving from a Status
Level 5 to a Status Level 1 in a single measurement cycle
2 Situations arise whereby a B-BBEE Consultant needs to engage
with a third-party supplier to drive a B-BBEE Strategy, specifically in
Skills Development and Enterprise Development. Usually, the first
port of call for a suggested supplier is the B-BBEE Consultant.
Ethically they should submit a few third-party candidates to an
organisation, enabling them to compare services and costings, so
they can make an independent choice.
3 It is advisable not to use a B-BBEE Consultant as a middle-man
for third-party procurement services. The contract with and payment
to a third-party must be direct with them to remove the risk of not
being able to obtain evidence at the next verification measurement
or field a query as to the third’s methodology.
4 To ensure that there is no conflict of interest, a B-BBEE Consultant
must not form part of the selection panel for a Verification Agency.
Ethically they should submit at least three verification agency
candidates to an organisation, so they can independently
compare services and costings.
5 To determine what the real cost of an organisation’s B-BBEE
Strategy is, ascertain the commission structure a B-BBEE
Consultant and third-party supplier have in place, as this is standard
practice in the industry. Having a full picture of how much money
paid in B-BBEE services is paid on in commissions, provides an
organisation with the opportunity to negotiate their rates and
perhaps curb costs.
6 Take the time to conduct a site visit to all B-BBEE suppliers
before engaging with them, to ensure that they are adequately
equipped to deliver on what they have committed to do. For
example, it is acceptable that a B-BBEE Consultant has a lone
office. However, a third-party who is offering Skills Development
or Enterprise Development services should have an infrastructure
that supports their overall offering. For instance, those offering
on-site Learnerships for people with disabilities must have
appropriate accessible facilities and be equipped to handle the
traffic they commit to take through the learning process.
“Take control of your B-BBEE Strategy.
Top Tip 4 | Follow the Money
The B-BBEE verification process is evidence-based. It is, therefore imperative that money is tracked throughout the supply chain and then presented
as evidence at the time of a B-BBEE verification. For example, an organisation using an institution to implement their Skills Development or Enterprise
Development plan must receive proof of payment from the institution. Then the institution must provide evidence of payment to the end Beneficiaries.
Without such evidence, a contribution will not be allowed. Therefore, all efforts for scorecard recognition would have been in vain.
Top Tip 5 | Haste is Waste
Probably the gravest B-BBEE mistake is when an organisation leaves vital scorecard elements until the last minute, the most common of which
is Socio-Economic Development, as well as Enterprise and Supplier Development. As these contributions are based on financial outcomes,
organisations tend to wait until their financial year end before committing a contribution to this element. They aim to get the contribution exactly right
in exchange for the exact allocated points. Given the short timeframe this methodology allows, it often results in a scramble to distribute funds. The
quickest and easiest method is to either offload the funds to a third-party supplier or frantically find a Beneficiary to bestow a grant on. However,
fast-forward 12 months and an organisation will have the same conundrum, due to there being no long-term plan.
In doing this year-on-year, organisations sacrifice their Return on Investment (ROI), as Beneficiaries are not selected against any criteria other than
being ‘in the right place at the right time’. There have been cases, following an organisation bestowing a grant, that the Beneficiary has disappeared.
One has to query how an organisation justifies distributing such vast amounts of money without doing proper due diligence on the Beneficiary, simply
to tick-the-box of compliance.
Penny wise, pound foolish is a B-BBEE norm for contributions that are Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) based. In essence, ‘penny wise’ is waiting until
the last minute, so no more than necessary is contributed. The flip side is ‘pound foolish’, which is waiting until the last minute, at which time vast
amounts of money are offloaded without any prospect of an ROI. In reality, would any organisation embark on a marketing initiative costing millions
without ensuring the long-term benefit to their business? So, why does the same mindset not apply to B-BBEE?
Top Tip 6 | Hedge your Bet
In the B-BBEE arena, ‘hedging one’s bets’ is essentially a B-BBEE betting strategy. Doing this involves creating a strategy that guarantees a different
outcome to the ‘penny wise, pound foolish’ one. In short, it provides a platform for organisations to take a holistic, long-term approach to their
B-BBEE Strategy, specifically those elements based on NPAT.
Top Tip 7 | To Spend or Not to Spend
Remember, anybody can spend money, but not all do so wisely. In terms of B-BBEE, a wise spend would be a
calculated proactive one rather than a reactive one. A proactive investment is being aware of what you are spending
money on and why. It ensures that there is sufficient time to do due diligence on Beneficiaries and Suppliers alike. The
following are often risks areas encountered by organisations implementing their B-BBEE Strategy:
1 Changing suppliers can often be a disruptive process. Therefore, plan to ensure that processes are in place for a
proper handover of evidence at any given time.
2 Do due diligence on all B-BBEE Beneficiaries and Suppliers.
3 Put processes in place to ensure that B-BBEE Beneficiaries and Suppliers consistently provide adequate evidence
4 Ensure those tasked with driving transformation can competently deliver on their mandate.
5 Track the money and ensure that any B-BBEE initiatives add value.
6 Monitor your B-BBEE performance against monthly financials.
7 Steer clear of quick-fix solutions; focus on long-term strategies.
8 Be proactive; do not leave any elements until the last minute. Remember there is no time like the present.
9 Network with peers driving their B-BBEE Strategy. Often the same challenges are presented across all sectors.
10 Ensure that a B-BBEE Strategy makes good business sense and that it leads to a transformative outcome.
11 Sometimes trying to support ESD Beneficiaries at arm’s length is like a surgeon trying to do life-threatening surgery
telephonically. It can not be done; an organisation must get involved.
12 Finally, ensure that an organisation’s entire workforce has a holistic knowledge of B-BBEE, the chosen strategy and
rationale behind it