The president has asked for the private sector to come to the party in empowering women and promoting them to senior positions, while also calling for supporting women-owned businesses when buying goods and services.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged the private sector to eliminate gender disparity by promoting women to managerial positions, shortly after a lack of equity in the top echelon across various economic sectors was revealed in a report.
The President said such a move would give effect to the principle of equal pay for equal work demanded by the Employment Equity Act.
Ramaphosa’s call coincided with the report of the Commission for Employment Equity which revealed that top management, senior management, and professional employee groups continue to be dominated by white males, across organisations in South Africa. The commission noted some progress made to make the workplace more diverse and representative, but it highlighted the massive discrepancies still remained particularly in senior positions.
Ramaphosa said as much as it is government’s responsibility to provide economic opportunities for women and create an enabling framework for advancing gender equality, everyone in society needs to play their part.
“Businesses must support women-owned enterprises in the procurement of goods and services. They should employ more women and appoint more women to management positions,” Ramaphosa said.
In his latest weekly online newsletter, the President said the government planned to work at a national and regional level towards the ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on Violence and Harassment in the Workplace.
According experts Dhevarsha Ramjettan, Shane Johnson and Mbali Nkosi, from Webber Wentzel, the Employment Equity amendment bill empowered government to set numerical targets for any national economic sector.
“The main goal of such target setting is to ensure the equitable representation of suitably qualified people from designated groups at all occupational levels in the workplace. The Minister may set different numerical targets for different occupational levels, sub-sectors or regions within a national economic sector,” the experts said.
Section 20(2A) in the Employment Equity Act Amendment Bill, which is before Parliament would provide that the numerical goals set by the employer must comply with any applicable sectoral target set by the Minister (under section 15A).
In assessing compliance under section 42 of the EEA, the Director-General will also be empowered to take into account whether or not the designated employer has complied with the sectoral target (under section 15A).
“This will be in addition to the designated employer being measured against the demographic profile of the national or the regional economically active population,” Ramjettan, Johnson and Nkosi said in a joint analysis of the legislation.
Ramaphosa said South African joined Generational Equality campaign that linked global efforts to achieve gender equality by 2030. Generational Equality was aimed at ending discrimination and violence against women, and for their equal participation in political, social and economic life.
This month the government is expected to start to implement the National Strategic Plan to combat gender-based violence and femicide and its key aspect of was to ensure greater women’s financial inclusion.
“The economic status of women in South Africa makes them more vulnerable to abuse. We must therefore scale up support for women to enable them to become financially independent,” he said.
A number of commitments that the government made would be realized as part of Generation Equality in the National Strategic Plan. He reiterated his statement that at least 40% of goods and services procured by public entities would be sourced from women-owned businesses.
“If we are to truly realise the promise of our Constitution we have to tackle the economic and financial exclusion that makes women more vulnerable to abuse and violence,” Ramaphosa said.