n South African Journal of Labour Relations - Employment equity in the South African retail sector : legal versus competence and business imperatives

Volume 39, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0379-8410
  • E-ISSN: 2520-3223



In 2013/14 a study entitled "Interventions to achieve employment equity objectives in the wholesale and retail sector" was conducted by the Wholesale and Retail Leadership Chair (WRLC) at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology on behalf of the W&R SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority). Objectives included assessing the impact of implementation of the Employment Equity Act (EEA) on retail organisations, and determining what supportive action regulatory authorities (the Department of Labour and the W&R SETA) and businesses could take to achieve employment equity (EE) goals. The study is therefore useful across the spectrum of the W&R industry, especially for employment relations practitioners and those tasked with EE implementation. The study followed a mixed-methods approach, using questionnaire surveys, in-depth interviews, case studies, focus groups and secondary data. Results indicated that EE tends to be numbers-driven at the expense of competence and talent management. Most respondents' perceptions of EE implementation were negative, with the implication that a different approach is needed because the pace of change and transformation in the South African workplace is too slow. Although the small sample size limits generalisation of the findings, the study provides insight and direction for further research. This paper acknowledges that because EE is currently driven largely by meeting mandated targets for demographic change, the development of talent - in essence, competence - is lacking or inadequate. Thus, the recommendations propose a competency model linked to a performance management system, which could lead to an efficient EE talent management process. This process will enable organisations to develop, within the shortest possible period, competent individuals able to perform adequately in their positions, thereby maintaining or improving productivity; it also addresses effective succession planning.

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