Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  18 Oct 2010

BEE: Corporates Hands Tied When Fulfilling BEE Targets


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Eight out of ten corporate clients have a BEE employment mandate but approximately 50% of placements at top executive level remain white.

This is according to Madge Gibson, MD of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters who has noted the frustration in hiring practice across her company’s blue chip client base, as the needs of the market outstrip the supply of experienced black executives.

Her sentiments echo Mpho Nkeli, chairperson of the Employment Equality Commission, who recently stated that white males still monopolize top management positions.

“If I look at our client base, it is clearly evident that when white candidates are hired, it is more a case of corporates finding their hands are tied, than a scenario of whites being favored for top jobs.

“In the last five years, companies have taken a retrospective look at the effects and outcomes of possible ‘window dressing’ that took place as they scrambled to meet empowerment targets in the earlier years of transformation. And in order to avoid the negative impact of failed BEE appointments, companies are placing emphasis on hiring for skill and experience, particularly at senior management and executive levels.

“But the reality is that because almost every company would prefer to appoint black candidates in senior roles, the demand frequently outstrip the availability of appropriately skilled black professionals in certain sectors and areas of technical expertise, and so companies have no choice but to recruit white individuals”.

Gibson says the current economic situation has compounded things. Whereas there may have been opportunities to appoint individuals who did not yet have sufficient experience in ‘development’ roles with structured leadership training and mentorship support, tough market conditions have forced corporations to trim their workforces down to the bare essentials.

As a result, few organizations have the luxury of offering ‘development’ or ‘succession’ roles to black professionals who show potential but do not yet have a demonstrable track record of success in positions of senior leadership.

“Painful experience has made HR departments recognize that both the company and the candidate lose when employment decisions are based on color rather than appropriate skill. What happens when companies do this is that they set up the candidate for failure. This (unfairly) affects not only the individuals themselves and the departments under their leadership, but the performance and morale within the entire organization.”

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