Unveiling the report in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Wednesday, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said South Africa introduced employment equity legislation to address racial exclusion in the labour market under apartheid.
“It may sound nasty but the highest positions for most black people, particularly Africans, back then would have been ‘head garden boy’ and ‘head tea girl’.
“…Employment equity is… not only a moral and human rights imperative; it is also a pre-condition for this country’s development, achievement and sustainability of global competitiveness.”
The report, released on Wednesday, found a “staggered and inconsistent” pattern in the promotion of designated groups to top management.
The 2013 results showed 19.8 percent of workers at this level were black, down from 20.3 percent in 2009.
Whites dominated top management positions at 62.7 percent, while Indians constituted 8.3 percent, coloureds 5.1 percent and foreign nationals accounted for 4.1 percent.
This was against the backdrop of blacks representing 75 percent of the economically active population of the country, whereas whites represented 10.8 percent.
In terms of gender, 79.4 percent of top management posts were held by men. Only 1.5 percent of these positions were held by people with disabilities.
The report showed the raw data indicated that there were more women in top management in numerical terms (4646) than the total number of blacks at this level (4464).
The report showed that whites were particularly dominant in top management positions in the Western Cape, with 62 percent held by white men and 12.7 percent held by white women.
In the same province, 8.3 percent of top management jobs were held by coloured men and 4.4 percent by coloured women.
The highest percentage of black men in top jobs was in the North West at 42.5 percent, and black women top managers were most represented in the Free State at 15.4 percent.
Nationally, whites occupied 57 percent of senior management positions, blacks occupied just over 23 percent, Indians constituted 10 percent, and coloureds accounted for seven percent. The remaining three percent were foreign nationals.
Thirty percent of workers at this level were women, and only 1.2 percent of senior managers had a disability.
In the professionally qualified category, 40.2 percent were white, 38.4 were black, 9.4 were coloured, 9.4 were Indian, and 2.5 percent were foreign nationals. The gender split was 43.1 percent women against 56.9 percent men.
Earlier, Oliphant said there was still a long way to go before South Africa’s workforce was properly transformed.
Draft employment equity regulations were published for public comment earlier this year. The regulations seek to speed up the pace of transformation in the workplace.
Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille recently branded the regulations “absurd”.
Zille said the department’s approach amounted to “race-based social engineering” and would entrench racial divisions rather than help overcome apartheid’s legacy.
Oliphant on Wednesday dismissed these criticisms, saying that regional and national demographics should be taken into account in determining numerical transformation targets.
The regulations in no way intended to disadvantage any of the designated groups, particularly Indians and coloureds.
“Anyone who says so is telling a blue lie and even in an election period, lies should not and cannot be acceptable.”
Oliphant said there were no immediate plans for a sunset clause on employment equity.
“We wish to put to those calling for a sunset clause, a lot of work still needs to be done.
“There is still a long road ahead in moving South Africa forward,” Oliphant said.
“Let us join our hands together… To make sure South Africa is a non-racial, non-sexist country, a prosperous country.”