Petrochemical giant Sasol’s poor performance on workplace transformation has put the spotlight on JSE-listed company’s seriousness in promoting black people to management positions.
Though Sasol scored an impressive Level 2 broad-based black economic empowerment rating during verification for the period between July 1 2022 to June 30 last year, it displayed dismal performance on meeting management control targets for black people.
The information is contained in Sasol’s B-BBEE verification report, which is on the company’s website. This has put Sasol under fire from an empowerment expert for failing to meet its employment equity targets.
Sasol misses targets
According to the report compiled by Siyandisa, Sasol achieved a 33.3% for black executive directors as a percentage of all executive directors, resulting in the company failing to meet the 50% target.
The company also did not meet the 60% target of black employees in senior management, only scoring 34%. This means white people were occupying 66% of the lucrative senior management positions. Other missed employment equity targets include those in middle management and junior management as well for black employees with disabilities.
These are the challenges that Simon Baloyi will have to grapple with when his term as Sasol president and chief executive begins in April. Sasol, however, met the 60% target for other black executive management as a percentage of all executive management as well exceed the target of black female other executive management.
B-BBEE measurements questioned?
Economist Duma Gqubule was scathing. “They’ve missed [most] of their employment equity targets. The whole system of measuring ownership, I think, is completely discredited. There is no actual relationship between what the companies put in their annual reports as black ownership and what is on the verification certificate.
“It is two completely different [information] and companies have found a way of manipulating the scores for ownership. That is why I don’t believe their ownership score of 40%, it can’t be true. We have to revisit this whole thing.
“We have to revisit this thing of verification certificates because they are not worth the paper they are written on. Sasol has not met [most] of its employment equity targets.
Twenty years ago, we could argue that there is a skills shortage. Now there is no skills shortage. Nobody can tell me that they can’t appoint 10 people to meet their target of senior management. Basically, companies do not want to transform. This for me shows that there are no excuses like skills. They have made a decision not to transform,” he said.
Gqubule said it was time for government to introduce quotas. He said the Sasol employment equity results reflected his recent study which showed that over the past 11 years, there has been no change in terms on employment equity targets.
“African women are the most marginalised in all levels of the economy. All we’ve seen in terms of black representation is that there is an increase of black Indians of African descent over the past decade. Certain groups are over-represented in employment equity, like white women and Indians.”
Time for empowerment quotas
Gqubule advocated for quotas, saying it had worked in Europe. “They (quotas) were done in Europe for women and it is time we have quotas. The way the scorecard is designed, Sasol is Level 2, so they don’t have to do anything.
“You can manipulate the ownership score and you pick and choose the easy ones like socioeconomic development, and the next thing you are on Level 2. Companies have found a way to manipulate the system to get the high points without transformation. How can Sasol be on Level 2 and they meet their targets for employment equity?” he said.
Sasol had not responded to questions sent by Sunday World by the time of publication. Should the company respond, its comment will be included in the online story.