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Nicola Daniels | 10 May 2023

Cape Town - The country’s major banks have come under scrutiny by the Department of Employment and Labour for non-compliance relating to Employment Equity.

Chief director of statutory and advocacy services, Fikiswa Mncanca-Bede said the department had been monitoring the compliance of JSE-listed companies for compliance with affirmative action in the last financial year, but found that 99% were not compliant and the banks were among them.

Earlier this year, the department explained that in 2017 it embarked on a review of JSE-listed companies as part of a project by the director-general to test compliance with Employment Equity Act (EEA) implementation.

Agreements were reached with companies for the department to come back and assess and review compliance.

The purpose of the EEA of 1998 is to achieve equity in the workplace – by promoting equal opportunity and fair treatment in employment through the elimination of unfair discrimination; and implementation of affirmative action measures to redress the disadvantages in employment experienced by designated groups to ensure their equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce.

She said plans were submitted by the banks but when it came time to test progress recently, they found that the banks were among those that were non-compliant.

“The findings showed that the banks were non-compliant with affirmative action measures, they didn't achieve their targets in terms of employing the designated groups.

They had a plan they came up with but failed to achieve the targets. The next step is to take them to court.”

She said the reason for the focus on listed companies was because they were big and could assist the country in achieving its transformation and employment goals.

Companies could face a R1.5 million fine or cough up 2% of turnover.

“It is a continuous process. Some of the banks have come forward to settle out of court and we are negotiating with them. Our mandate is to ensure that they are equitable to correct the wrongs of the past. Women need to be given opportunities in top management in the workplace,” Mncanca-Bede said.

Generally, she said top management consisted of mainly males regardless of race, “It’s still a man’s world.

“You only find women under technical skills or unskilled labour. We want to fix that,” she said.

She said her message to all companies was that they would not stop until they see transformation and when the minister publishes sectoral targets, companies will face fines.

Standard Bank said it had many constructive engagements with the department, and these are ongoing.

“We can confirm that we have not agreed or reached any settlement on any matters relating to non-compliance. Standard Bank has a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Level 1 Rating, as measured against the amended Financial Sector Code (FSC) in South Africa. We have maintained our Level 1 Rating since 2017.

Standard Bank is committed to playing its part in transforming the country and economy and is dedicated to meeting its commitments as required by law. The bank has regular engagements with the authorities. While we have met or exceeded some of our targets, there are other targets that we have committed to focus more on in order to improve. We are a bank that remains committed to Employment Equity (EE) and we demonstrate this through various initiatives run across the bank led by senior leaders who are held accountable for the implementation of our EE programmes.”

FNB and Absa did not respond to requests for comment by deadline on Sunday.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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