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Employment Equity Commission interprets its own report incorrectly

Thursday, September 13th, 2012
In the latest annual report of the Department of Labour’s Commission for Employment Equity, the commission repeats mistakes that Solidarity has pointed out in the past, the trade union said today. The commission interprets its own figures incorrectly by using the racial composition of the economically active population (EAP) as the only yardstick for racial transformation.

Paul Joubert, senior economics researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), said the commission interpreted figures about appointments and promotions incorrectly. “The commission, for example, says that 43,9% of employees at senior management level are white men and that 39,5% of appointments and 30,1% of promotions at that level are also white men. It then goes on to say that these figures mean that white men will continue to dominate at this level. In reality, the figures suggest that white men’s position at senior management level is decreasing steadily. This decrease can also be seen when the current figures are compared with the previous reports’ figures.”

Although the representation of white men decreased by approximately 9 percentage points at top management level and by around 14 percentage points at senior management level over the past eight years, the Commission for Employment Equity claims that whites and males will dominate from middle to top levels for the next 127 years. Last year, the commission used the same figure with respect to the top management level only, in response to which Solidarity pointed out that the figure was incorrect. As has been repeatedly the case in previous reports, the ‘over-representation’ of especially white employees at the top job levels is once again sharply criticised in the latest report. “This criticism is levelled even though top and senior management jointly make up only 1,75% of the employees covered by the report. These statements are also made despite the commission’s own reports indicating that white men’s representation at top management levels has decreased from 67,5% in 2003 to 55,2% in 2011. At senior management levels, white men’s representation decreased from 57,8% in 2003 to 43,9% in 2011. At the professionally qualified level, the representation of white men decreased form 34,3% in 2003 to 26,3% in 2011.”

Solidarity is disappointed that the commission does not even mention the most important reason, namely suitable qualifications, for the so-called ‘white domination’ at higher levels in the labour market. This while section 42 of the Employment Equity Act stipulates that the pool of available people with suitable qualifications is an important consideration when compliance with the Act is evaluated. According to Statistics South Africa’s 2007 Community Survey, approximately 50% of all people over the age of 20 who had a degree as their highest qualification were white. At honours level or higher this figure was around 60%. It is therefore not surprising that white people are ‘over-represented’ at higher job levels, as higher qualifications are in demand at these levels.

The SRI’s critical analysis of the 12th annual report of the Commission for Employment Equity can be read here <http://www.solidarityresearch.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/A-brief-critical-analysis-of-the-12th-CEE-report-1-1.pdf>

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