The Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF) said on Thursday that all progressive South Africans should be saddened and embarrassed by the findings of the Commission for Employment Equity report released this week.
A statement from the organisation led by Mzwanele Manyi noted that it was perplexed and saddened at the lack of transformation in the private sector.
The PPF said it was “shameful and embarrassing” that almost 20 years since the promulgation of the Employment Equity Act, white males continued to occupy almost 70 percent of top positions in workplaces.
It added that all progressive South Africans, and professionals in particular, should be saddened and embarrassed by the report released by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant on Tuesday.
It noted, in particular, an increase of just 0.8 percent in the number of nonwhites in top management positions and a mere 1.1 percent improvement in the representation of women at this level.
The PPF pointed to the contrast between the private sector, where the white population occupied 72 percent of top management positions, and the public sector, where 73.2 percent of top management positions were occupied by black people, concluding “the anti-transformation agenda is glaring in the private sector”.
The statement said this confirmed the forum’s long-held view that the private sector was not committed to transformation and wanted to maintain the current status of exclusive privilege.
The PPF further accused the Department of Labour of a “lukewarm and timid” response that showed a lack of political will to address the matter speedily.
The forum said government must “stop talking but start acting with the necessary urgency and speed to correct this shameful picture which still reflects the pre-1994 working conditions demographics”.
It called on the president and cabinet to instruct the minister of labour to promulgate proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act, which decree sterner action against companies who fail to comply. The PPF insisted that weightier punitive action, such as the amended act’s higher fines and penalties, was required to ensure “these big white companies comply with the transformative nature of this act”.
Furthermore, the PPF called the professionalisation of labour inspectors by sectors to enable meaningful inspections. These labour inspectors, the statement added, should be empowered to issue spot fines for any non-compliance on issues, including safety.
“We continue to call all progressive professionals to join PPF as we unapologetically call for big companies to transform or else face the punitive might of the State,” it said.