A study on the success of employment equity practices in the South African financial services sector

14 Dec 2020

Since 1994, the South African government has been striving to redress the imbalances caused by apartheid in the social, political and economic spheres of society. In an attempt to rectify disparities created by apartheid in the workplace in particular, the government adopted employment equity legislation as part of its broad-based black economic empowerment strategy. The objective of employment equity being to improve the representation of previously disadvantaged people in the workplace and amongst certain trades and positions (Agócs & Burr, 1996:3). Twenty-one years later since the promulgation of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998, this exploratory, non-experimental and quantitative, study aimed to investigate whether employment equity policies are assisting with transformation of the financial sector in South Africa. Twenty-eight companies within the financial sector formed part of the sample and the employment equity reports of these companies, drawn from the Department of Labour's Employment Equity System, were analysed over a five-year period, specifically, 2014-2018. The study focused on the numerical distribution of African, Coloured and Indian persons, as well as women and people living with disabilities at four occupational levels within the financial sector. These occupational levels are upper, senior, middle and junior management. Occupancy by foreign nationals was excluded from the study. The study findings indicate that representation of previously disadvantaged people at management level is on the rise, albeit failing to meet employment equity targets. It was found that employment equity policies are assisting with transformation in the financial sector, although not optimally