“There is often media reports about BEE and its importance, but one gets the impression the focus is often on black males with black women taking a backseat. Is there any value for companies to consider black women empowerment?”
Empowerment legislation in South Africa aims to redress the inequalities of the past not only from a race perspective, but also as regards gender. This is evidenced through numerous provisions in the B-BBEE Codes that specifically relate to black women representation under the various scorecard elements and sub elements.
The B-BBEE Codes contain provisions relating to female shareholding or representation under the Ownership, Management Control and Enterprise and Supplier Development elements.
The Ownership element on the B-BBEE scorecard distinguishes between shareholding of black people and black women in companies. Scorecard points will therefore be forfeited if black women do not hold a minimum required percentage shareholding in such companies, irrespective of the total percentage of black shareholding. This reiterates the need to differentiate between black people and black women ownership in your business.
Further examples of initiatives aimed at ensuring and accelerating the participation of black women as shareholders of companies include the formation of the NEF Women Empowerment Fund, an initiative of the National Empowerment Fund, which provides funding to black women acquiring majority interests in businesses, or, to black women owned businesses. Other initiatives include internal policies enforced by certain corporates and parastatals aimed at ensuring the promotion of black women ownership in the procurement chain of suppliers of services and goods.
Under the Management Control element, representation of not only black persons, but also specifically black women is measured at board, executive, senior, middle and junior management levels. If a company therefore has, substantial representation of black male employees but no black female employees at management level, a large number of points will be lost under the Management Control element, despite good black male representation.
The Enterprise and Supplier Development element, and more specifically the Preferential Procurement sub-element, requires companies to consider and measure the B-BBEE credentials of its suppliers. One of the indicators under this sub-element measures the amount of spend, as a percentage of total annual spend, on suppliers that have a prescribed minimum percentage black women shareholding. The targets and points scored under this indicator of the Preferential Procurement sub-element have further been increased in the recent past, in line with the general theme of promoting and accelerating the economic empowerment of black women.
The above provisions do not only play an important role in opening up economic opportunities for black women, but also hold great benefits for companies who embrace and successfully address the requirements pertaining to black women. All points earned under the black women indicators are effectively “double counted” for B-BBEE scorecard purposes.
With this in mind it therefore makes absolute sense for any business to consult their BEE advisor and develop a strategy to increase their support of black women, either in their own business or through the support of businesses that are black women empowered.