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Employment Equity ...women, youth, SMEs in the Economy

Employment Equity 
...women, youth, SMEs in the Economy 
Carol o'Brien...Editor
If the value of human capital is to be unlocked by linking people and business value, we need to take cognisance of the role of women, young people, and SMEs [Small & Medium Enterprises].
The benefits of having women actively participating in the economy at a macro-economic level have been identified in a range of authoritative studies. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], the economic empowerment of women is a prerequisite for sustainable development. It requires sound policies, long-term commitment, the integration of related innovative programmes, and partnerships.
The International Labour Organisation [ILO] suggests that women's work may be the single most important factor in reducing poverty in developing economies. The World Economic Forum has in the past identified the positive correlation between gender equality and per capital GDP [Gross Domestic Product].  
A GALLUP study, indicated that different market insights and viewpoints enable better problem solving and performance. The Australian Government's Workplace Gender Equality Agency reported that gender diversity is likely to be a competitive advantage in a full [more diverse] talent pool.
In turn, a McKinsey Quarterly report, EBIT [Earnings Before Interest and Tax] margins in the most diverse companies were on average 14 per cent higher that the least diverse companies. Similarly a related article on BNY Mellon Investment Management's 'womenomicstoday' indicates that a more diverse workforce can improve a company's bottom line. In addition to the individual benefit of increasing the household financial stability, the cumulative benefits of female labour force includes improving the living standards of the next generation of women.
Reports released in South Africa [SA] - such as the SABPP [SA Board of People Practices] Women's Report 2015 - Equal Pay for Equal Value, and the Commission for Employment Equity 2014-2015 Annual Report, include interventions necessary for women to break the ceiling of the economically active population. The question is...how to benchmark our progress? A target-setting tool such as that of Australia Workplace Gender Equality Agency would be useful.
Escalating the participation of young people in our economy can be done by formalising internships in the workplace, and by partnerships with tertiary education institutions. The benefits will include fresh ideas and perspectives, and the creation of mutually beneficial long-term relationships.
Young people in sub-Saharan Africa are described, in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor's 2014 report, as among the most entrepreneurial in the world. Walter Baets - Allan Gray Chair in Values Based Leadership and Director of the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business explains that with unemployment on the rise many young people are 'looking for ways to go it alone'.
According to research many students also believe that they need shorter, more modular business courses - courses that combine elements of blended learning, flexibility in traditional business education programmes, and business support services. 
According to Baets while the MBA [Masters of Business Administration] is 'far from dead', it 'will no longer be the only kid on the block'!
That there is a link in the economy between the role of women, young people, and SMEs, is undeniable. The common themes of economic emancipation and a desire to work were recently identified during a youth-driven campaign by the Netherlands-based organisation, Building Bridges. SMEs need to embrace women and young people in contributing to SA's 2030 new employment target.
What do SMEs need to achieve the target of 90% of the creation of new employment by 2030 which has been assigned to SMEs in our National Development Plan [NDP]? A recent Sage survey revealed that the simplification of labour regulations, and the reduction of red tape, are amongst the areas where SMEs need government assistance and collaboration.
On the one hand a 'call' by the Ministry of Small Business for the private and public sectors to work together to invest in and support small businesses may be encouraging. On the other hand progress in the Ministry since the announcement in May 2014 of its establishment appears to be slow.
Recently the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development expressed its dissatisfaction with the Ministry about the lack of consultation on sustainability needs for SMMEs in the retail sector. The briefing included the Ministry, its related Small Enterprise Finance Agency [SEFA] and the Small Enterprise Development Agency [SEDA], and representatives from the retail sector. 
The slow progress and the most recent business confidence levels and international monetary projectionsdo not bode well for SMEs achieving the NDP's 90% target. In October the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced that its September Business Confidence Index fell to the lowest level since 1993 - a 22-year low. A fact exacerbated by research that reveals that SA is no longer the 'continent's economic powerhouse'.
The IMF projections for growth in sub-Saharan Africa is another 'wake-up' call - in particular SA where growth is projected to be below 1.5% for 2015 and in 2016. According to the IMF economic growth in the major emerging market, BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, SA], the projected future decline is by 1% relative to 2015.
The IMF related report indicates that the 'growth prospects suggest that it is also time for major emerging market economies to turn to important structural reforms to raise productivity and growth in a lasting way'.  Aspects of the 'reform agenda' for SA include 'implementing reforms, education, labor...productivity, and government service delivery' - the latter refers only to SA.
Structural reforms need to embrace women, young people, and SMEs [Small & Medium Enterprises] and their vital role in our economy.
Equity & Human Resources
Human Capital...
an organisation's greatest asset!

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Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director


C: +27 (0)82 416 7712

T: +27 (0)10 035 4185 (Office)

F: +27 (0)86 689 7862

Website: www.workinfo.com
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