B-BBEE SHOULD NOT JUST BE A TICK-BOX EXERCISE FOR COMPANIES – HERE IS WHY
This week, we attended a workshop on the topic of Inclusive Growth convened by Grant Thornton. Workshop speakers included specialists in the fields of B-BBEE, Risk and Governance as well as Cohesion and Diversity. Key talking points from the dialogue are summed up as follows:
- A B-BBEE specialist said that compliance with the B-BBEE codes is just a tick box exercise for many companies. This is particularly the case in the ownership element. It is also important for companies to understand B-BBEE in the context of addressing the fight against youth unemployment and protests such as the Fees Must Fall. It is recommended that companies actually start funding students through university; train them after graduation, and hire them full-time thereafter. This will rectify the excuse made by some companies that they cannot find qualified, skilled and workplace-ready black graduates.
- Regarding Skills Development, it is suggested that companies go out of their way to train unemployed people. Those companies will then be able to claim training costs from SETAs.
- With regards to the Enterprise and Supplier Development element, companies should also not treat this like a tick box exercise. Specialists recommend that companies implement this element by actively incorporating black service provider companies into their supply chain departments.
- It is important that companies strive to achieve all priority elements which are Ownership, Skills Development and Enterprise/Supplier Development. Even failing on one element will have their B-BBEE scorecard dropping by a level.
In conclusion, speakers noted a current challenge in the B-BBEE space is the lack of knowledge, fear and concern around the high costs involved in implementing it. An effective ingredient towards eliminating this challenge is a change of attitude and a realisation that a major purpose of conducting business is to make a difference in people’s lives. It is therefore also important that wealth creation be equitable and sustainable.