Thulas Nxesi, Minister of Employment and Labour  has sworn to punish private-sector companies which intentionally block qualified black professionals and those with disabilities from assuming top senior positions in firms.

Nxesi made this pledge on yesterday, after receiving what he described as a “worrying report about transformation in the workplace” which showed that black and coloured workers in the country were the least considered for senior jobs in the private sector, compared to national and local governments.

The annual report was tabled by the Commission of Employment Equity (CEE), headed by recruitment specialist Tabea Kabinde. The report showed that among other things, white employees continued to hold senior positions in the government despite only 9% of them in the country’s population being economically active compared to the 79% of working blacks. In the report, a breakdown in the estimates of people said to be professionally qualified in the country, showing black individuals were at 40% compared to the white individuals at 37.4%. The report also found that private companies, despite these telling figures, consistently recruited white people to senior positions and established that discrimination also affected people with disabilities.

Furthermore, The report stated that Indian workers who constitute 2.6% of economically active people occupied 5.3% of top management positions in the country. Coloured professionals constituted 9.6% of economically active people, but only held 3.4% of top management positions in the workplace. It also showed that African males with disabilities in top management positions constituted 10.2%; coloured males 5.0%; Indian 12.3% and whites 45.6%. Females – African 4.6%; coloured 4.0%; Indian 5.0% and white 11.5%.

Recruitment specialist of Commission of Employment Equity has appealed to Nxesi to force the government to boycott conducting business with big corporates if they continued to exclude black people from top management and senior managerial positions.

Kabinde also expressed concern about the private sector choosing to give top management position to people with disabilities who are mainly white. “Employers who employ persons with disabilities are mainly from the white population group.”

Nxesi expressed concern about “the pace of transformation in the workplace” and promised the government would be forced “to resort to hard measures to ensure transformation did take place in the workplace. He said those companies that did not want to implement the Employment Equity Act introduced 20 years ago “must face the music.” “We are not just talking about a single solution, but a range of solutions to deal with problems in the economy and workplace.

He said the government would be employing more labour inspectors to ensure the private sector companies were adhering to the equity.

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