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Equity Commission reinforces AA misconceptions

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The slogan on the cover of the 14th annual report of the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) reads: “turning over a new leaf against all odds”. Unfortunately, the Commission merely seems to be harping on the same string, as the report is as confusing as in previous years and is even misleading.

Solidarity has critiqued the Commission’s reports since 2007, yet the reports remain riddled with errors. The Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) has therefore released yet another critical analysis of the CEE’s latest report.

According to Paul Joubert, Senior Researcher at the SRI, it is unfortunate that the Commission should reinforce misconceptions rather than elucidate the dynamics of the labour market for the Minister of Labour and the public, as it is supposed to do. “Affirmative action is a highly sensitive issue in South Africa. For this reason, it is important that policy on this matter, and the implementation thereof, should not be influenced by misconceptions. The SRI therefore considers it as its duty to compile a critical analysis of the CEE’s reports,” Joubert says.

The CEE again focuses mainly on top management level despite the fact that employees on this level make up less than 0,5% of the 5,6 million employees covered by the report. “The Commission bemoans the high percentage of white men at this level, ascribing it to resistance to racial transformation. However, there are several reasons why the percentage of white men at top management level is still relatively high,” Joubert explains.

“Apart from major differences in academic qualifications and age profiles among population groups, the small number of top managers per firm is another factor that explains the relatively high percentage of white men in those positions. For example, a firm with only two top managers, one of whom is white, could only achieve black representation above 50% by taking the drastic, impractical and unfair action of dismissing the white person,” says Joubert.

One of the significant mistakes repeated in this year’s report is the CEE’s incorrect interpretation of its own figures on appointments and promotions. “For example, the Commission refers to the fact that 41,3% of employees on senior management level are white men, and on the same level white men constitute 36,2% of appointments and 28,9% of promotions. The CEE then compares the figures with the number of white men in the economically active population, concluding that white men are still extraordinarily favoured in terms of appointments and promotions. In reality, the figures indicate that the representation of white men on senior management level, and indeed on all levels, is steadily decreasing,” Joubert says.

Joubert believes the data in the CEE’s reports is not entirely unusable, but the SRI’s critical analyses show that the CEE’s interpretation of its own data is not reliable.

Click here to view the article, Equity Commission reinforces AA misconceptions.

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