BEE or not
Based on the analysis of demographic statistics and interview responses, the private sector is still not representative of the country’s demographics and within the interviews few of the EAPs were truly black-owned, most had started off as White-owned and been ‘transformed’ reactively through BEE.
It appears that BBBEE has resulted in HDIs being slotted into quotas in white-owned companies rather than the development of
BBBEE in the EIA&M sector has tended to result in reactive number-representivity, rather than proactive transformation. “Companies don't actually transform, they get their numbers right for the BEE status, but did they really transform? Not at any of the big companies. They use recruitment schemes to get their numbers right, "rent a darkie" philosophy is prominent amongst these companies with the BEE certificate. It is due to the government that transformation is not being fulfilled, the BEE system is pro-white - it makes it very difficult for us to get work from government.” (Coloured EAP manager).
According to this interviewee the BBBEE system is advantageous to white firms, as government tenders favour the bigger firms, and once they have any level of BEE certificate, they are well-placed to get a tender - true
Also BEE cannot be the whole answer to transformation as “BEE status is only of relevance for government work, or for adding to BEE companies BEE status in terms of value-added suppliers. For private contracting work, it is not relevant.”
Therefore transformation needs to be driven by companies themselves in the private sector.
One of the key emotive issues in BEE and demographic representivity can be summed up by an intern’s words:
“As a non-white individual, the question in the back of your mind begs to know whether you have been employed based on the colour of your skin, or based on your ability. In my case, I can quite comfortably testify that I assume it is both. Many of my peers in a similar situation have attested to feeling that they have either been, in effect, used by the company, who has given them a job with little to no direct relation to their qualification and has no interest in involving them beyond what is necessary to earn “BEE credits”. They have been put into management positions beyond their current capability, once again for BEE purposes. Whilst many do not have a problem with this, their complaint is that the company does not build their capacity in order to enable them to become effective managers, and they then become employees with a “poor performance record”.”
It is not transformation to disempower people. It is not transformation to put people in a place where they cannot perform efficiently and end up being burdened with a bad performance record for life. It is thus the imperative of private EAPs to maintain strict codes of ethics in appointing HDIs and this can be informed by better internal policies. Very few organizations actually have a proper transformation policy and some state that they are “too small” to have one. This implies that a transformation policy is only viewed as an instrument for developing into a bigger business with access to government tenders. It is not considered a vital and inclusive part of any organization, no matter how big or small and shows the poor level of commitment to transformation in this country. Even 100%
Singh (2007) notes that although there are diversity programmes in the science sector that are “genuinely committed to educating employees about understanding themselves and others different to themselves, most programmes are “quick-fix” solutions with short-term sustainability. Programmes of AA and programmes of understanding differences are not sufficient as standalone programs”.
EAPs develop structured, formalized transformation policies and strategies that harmonize EE with skills development and represent a concerted and committed effort to build capacity within the company and enhance the work environment to promote cultural integration. There needs to be a holistic developmental approach that encourages their staff to further their qualifications, provide bursaries and gives staff incremental experience in handling EIAs, with oversight to ensure quality.
Government and civil society develop a Transformation Charter for the EIA&M sector in order to:
- develop best practice guidelines
- foster the environment for promoting skills development, learnerships and mentoring to integrate all sectors and disciplines
- to develop a vehicle to monitor transformation in indicators other than BEE
- to build capacity using partnerships to develop
HDIownership and engagement with EIA&M
- Address the lack of communication between government and EAPs and NGOs. (One example of poor communication was that according to several NGOs, they submitted transformation proposals to government after being requested to do so, and never heard back about these.) Facilitate a forum for industry-education-government to address lack of capacity and skills and develop placement programmes.
However BBBEE is in the hands of the user - it can be as powerful or as mismanaged as one makes it. One can use it as a ladder for building one’s own business, or one can use it as a channel for true transformation. SAFCEC, the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors, offers a unique programme for Enterprise Development in the construction industry which has valuable ideas for the EIAM sector. It is a company-to-company mentoring program based on the ED requirements as described in the Construction Codes. “The objective of this programme is to transfer knowledge and skills to the Business owner and personnel of a sub contractor or JV partner, via mentoring, coaching and training. An Established Contractor must coach/guide/mentor a Developing Contractor (Protégé Company) through a structured development programme. The objective is to help the protégé company reach independence and to address all the development areas as mentioned in the Construction Scorecard. The ideal mentoring period is between 3-5 years.” A facilitator (SAFCEC or internal) then guides the interaction (program of transfer) at regular intervals over time, until the desired outcomes have been reached. The SAFCEC involvement in the programme includes assisting with the launch of the program on relevant site, and supplying a Facilitator who evaluates the protégé and develops a unique development plan for this protégé and mentor. (See Appendix 3 for more details)
Entrepreneurial skills development through partner EAP mentoring
A study done at CPUT found that the entrepreneurial flair for new graduates seeking opportunities in small scale and venture enterprises has not been adequately instilled (Hendricks 2005).
RECOMMENDATION 3: Create opportunities for HDIs to develop their own businesses if such is their ambition. Well-established companies can allocate resources in terms of (ED – enterprise development) towards researching, negotiating and mentoring working relationships with small emerging enterprises. Small businesses often battle and these can be matched with larger companies who have shared interests (Nancy Richards, Untapped development potential, p 22 Impumelelo Volume 11 2010). The beneficiary strengthens and grows to become a valuable player in the economy and the benefactor grows its understanding and awareness of challenges facing emerging businesses and together they grow” Richards 2010)
Building the skills base and capacity of HDIs:
In order for the skills base to increase and thus increase the supply of skilled/qualified EIA&M recruits, we need to address various entry points in the education and work environment:
The following diagram illustrates where the weak links need to be addressed, which are places where HDIs need support or else we lose potential EIA&M practitioners and professionals as they fall away out the sector.
How do HDIs choose the environmental sector to work and study in?
Exposure to environmental issues during youth plays a major role in people’s decision to study environmental subjects in tertiary education. Often a mentor or support person plays a major role. School currently plays a poor role, according to the majority of interviewees. The only interviewee who claimed school as a driver was a manager who went to school in
6.2.2. Flower-power: promoting awareness of the sector:
The focus group of
Environmentalists also said a major obstacle was that parents would often not support their children financially if they wanted to follow an alternative career to that familiar to parents. If they want you to be a lawyer, but you want to go into the environmental sector, then they will let you do your own thing but wont give you resources to pay for your career. This means then that only the very passionate and those with parents with resources and awareness will make it into the environmental sector.
One EAP commented that she found it difficult to explain to school learners what she did. There was a general conclusion that environmental careers are not publicized in career guidance, however this takes place - in schools etc.
Takalani Sesame Street, the award-winning television and radio program that premiered in 2000 is one of the most successful education innovations in South Africa. USAID supported development of a South African version of an American educational TV success, with an objective of reaching out to vulnerable children. In 2002, a five-year-old Muppet named Ka i became South Africa’s most popular AIDS orphan. Children from three to six years old improved their life skills grasp, such as positive self-esteem and self-image. Research found that older children and caregivers also increased their knowledge about HIV and AIDS.
Findings from the evaluation of the 2007 National Science Week (Reddy et al, 2008, cited in HSRC 2009), show that a number of students admitted to having their interest in science careers raised by their interactions and engagements with scientists.
- Encourage teachers to instil the cross-cutting issues of environment across disciplines.
- Work with schools in forums to enhance the syllabus with more environment-driven practicals and field trips
- DEA and EAPA can run similar camps to the Thuthuka Camps, targeting top achievers in biology, science and geography
- Develop job-shadowing days within all large EAPs and IAIA
- Develop an EIA stall at National Science Week Exhibitions and Biodiversity Expos
Mentoring, interns and learnerships
Mentorships are some of the most successful tools to develop capacity and there are a wide variety of funds and levies to facilitate these (see Appendix 3). An Intern program has been run since 2005 at the City of Cape Town in partnership with provincial government, funded initially by DANIDA but now funded solely by the CoCT plus funds from SETA, and is aimed at giving 20-25 graduates a year training and work experience year through the CoCT. When it was funded by DANIDA recruitment criteria were strict – 80%
- Promote public-private partnerships to develop learnerships and support programmes, such as internships, for HDIs and women; use existing programmes such as those recommended in Appendix 3.
- Inside the sector itself, however, a special mentoring project can be set up, coordinated at a senior level, where those about to retire may be dedicated to conducting mentoring in research projects with younger professionals and associate professionals (HSRC 2009). Special care must be taken to set up the right socio-cultural context of mentoring though.
Qualifications and skills from School and Higher Education:
HSRC (2009) recorded a worrying decline in biodiversity-skilled employee qualifications between 2000 and 2007 where postgraduate degrees declined by 6% and increasingly, professionals with qualifications of Diploma and lower were being employed in the sector. “The employment of professionals with lower level qualifications implies that these individuals may be required to operate at levels of responsibility that they are not necessarily qualified for. The result of this disjuncture in qualifications and responsibility is echoed in other research indicating that the levels of enforcement competence are often low.” Although there have been improvements in the number of black postgraduates (HSRC 2009), the biggest bottleneck exists for black women to move from masters into a doctoral programme and the second bottleneck for blacks in general is to move from honours into masters and this trend was noticed in this study too.
HSRC (2009) note that one third of biodiversity professionals (34%) in 2007 were taking on responsibilities that should ideally be done by someone with an honours degree or higher. This partly explains why respondents in the fieldwork raise question marks about, for instance, the competence of biodiversity conservation  at all government levels.
During 2009-2010 a number of stakeholder-based skills planning processes have taken place in the environmental sector, including the Global Change Grand Challenge initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, an Environmental Sector Skills Plan being developed by the Department of Environment, and associated Human Capital Development Strategies, for the Environment, Biodiversity, and Natural Resource Management (among others)(Submission to
- “New areas of learning to better support the developmental needs of society.
- Eradicating inequality of access to higher education.
- Eradicating inequalities in the quality of higher education provisioning.
- Improving epistemological access and methods of teaching to meet wider needs.”
- Research indicates teachers need to be trained about the environmental content of the subjects they teach.
Success factors for increasing numbers of black South Africans reaching postgraduate level are cited as:
- Strong academic development programmes, both general and discipline specific
- Adequate opportunities for staff-student interaction
- A lowering of entry criteria for Honours (but not Masters) programmes, to give students with disadvantaged schooling an additional opportunity to ‘catch up’
- A range of course specialisations, particularly courses which combine the technical environmental content with social relevance
- Staff with a good understanding of the world of work in the environmental sector.
“Many South African students are ‘switched on’ to the environmental sciences when technical content is presented in the context of social relevance. And working from context (such as experience, or situated case study) to concept unlocks a vast potential for learning” (Submission to
The failure of many universities of technology students to find experiential workplace placements often results in their failure to complete qualifications (HSRC 2009). The reasons why there are so few qualified Blacks and Coloureds often relate to high financial needs and lack of support. It is difficult for learners to finish theses without access to financial resources, particularly if their family is not well-resourced.
6.3 Breaking into the Inner circle:
Registration on professional bodies is considered an essential way to standardize skills. However there is a concern that this will exclude and limit the opportunities of HDIs who have had unequal access to education resources but might have good experience.
At the moment, we understand that the certification process for registration with professional bodies depends on being sponsored by a reputable EAP who is already part of the inner circle/ or who the new consultant has worked with in the past. Such a process would tend to make it exceedingly difficult for “outsiders” or new potential EAPs to become certified.
It has been therefore suggested by EAPs that a two year mentoring process be instituted, with mentors that could become sponsors but track their experience. There was also a suggestion that some of the older, retired experienced individuals who have commented to EIAs for NGOs could provide mentorship within NGOs and small EAPs and be funded to do so by government in a structured manner.
A recommendation from a NGO manager was that although any newcomer into the sector will have difficulties, “they have to work hard. It’s worth doing voluntary stuff – to get known.”
RECOMMENDATION 6: Provide more opportunities, through funding and encouragement, during education and in the work place, to allow HDIs to participate in social-network building and the development of contacts through:
- Attendance at conferences
- Attendance at workshops and meetings
- Increased exposure to EIA&M interfaces – so as to increase awareness of integration and provide communication channels with other related sectors (e.g., consultants, communities, engineers, water affairs)
- Develop the Grab-an-intern IAIA project
- Facilitation (through financial and training support) of registration on professional EIA bodies
Mentoring plays a vital role in development of skills in the EIA&M and during interviews mentors said that it was important to develop writing and communication skills as a key limiting skill. Even within short courses students could be asked to prepare and help present a paper at IAIA conference, as has been done in the past. This not only builds the capacity to work in a team but also helps hone writing skills and promotes attendance at a network-building conference.
According to comments into the development of EAPA, the registration authority for EAPs, there is widespread support of the principle that the body must be an inclusive one that is representative of the full spectrum of practitioners operating in South Africa and that it must be a body that facilitates the entrance of new practitioners into the field. This needs to be ensured right form the start and represents a very good opportunity for SA to develop transformation in the industry.
RECOMMENDATION 7: there is a need to fast-track registration of Black EIA&M professionals, allowing some leeway of registration criteria in favour of experience or emphasis on mentorship.
6.4 Staff turnover and retention
Without access to exit interviews it is not possible to truly identify the reasons for staff turnover. However the perceptions were firstly that BEE is driving higher salaries and hence higher
- lack of career opportunities,
- lack of job variety and challenges
- low salaries.
There was also a view that “organizational and management culture may play a role in the high turnover” in the sector as white males dominate at the senior level which was “not welcoming for new recruits” (HSRC 2009).
Small firms appear to have more staff loyalty, even though they cannot offer as high salaries. This might be due to what seems to be more effective management-staff interface, an open door policy and close training and mentoring of junior staff by senior staff.
One way to effect a conducive work environment is through an “open door” policy, encouraging communication and interaction. Furthermore to offer alternative perks might be a strategy to encourage retention, such as Chand Consulting, a woman-only EAP, who offer spa breaks and readily acknowledge staff who have gone the extra mile. As a result they have a “very low staff turnover”. Chand do not headhunt their staff or acquire from universities/technikons but acquire new employees from CVs sent to them. They also are prepared to take on new graduates from universities and train them. If one views the Chand Consulting services website, one can see that Chand embraces their womanhood and provide an offbeat ambience to their company, which engenders a close-knit work relationship between staff.
It is important to develop effective communication between management and staff within transformation and staff development, and the open door policy is often mentioned as being successful (BotSoc intern interview, for example). Chand Consulting, for example asks staff to fill in questionnaires about the work environment in order to work on weaknesses and thus grow. An interview with a Chand employee verified that their environment was relaxed and efficient with good team work.
HSRC (2009) suggest that addressing “unique and individual value systems rather than focusing on generic motivators may be more useful” to retaining employees and building commitment.
The evidence suggests that salaries have become a factor in the retention of midcareer professionals and do not just HSRC (2009) also suggest that salary becomes a concern to young professionals in midcareer stage, just at the time they are having families and suddenly needing more financial resources. Finally, “the expenditure on consultants by the DEAT has created another labour market and may also add an incentive for experienced staff to resign and do consultancy work.” (HSRC 2009).
The Review of EIA in South Africa report also mentions high turnover: “The high turnover in personnel of departments and even in consultancies and the corporate sector is very disruptive to the development of capacity of both organisations and individuals and contributes significantly to both ineffectiveness and inefficiency. A concerted effort that involves all role players is required to create a sustainable flow of environmental managers in a way that creates capacity at all levels and also ensure career paths for employees. The EIM strategy would fail to address efficiency and effectiveness adequately if an actionable plan in this regard does not form part thereof.” (Mosakong Management et al. 2008).
There is an urgent need to change the work environment, particularly within government to prevent high staff turnover and loss of institutional memory. In order to retain staff, alternative perks need to be offered. This might mean government needs to be more flexible in offering benefits, allowing staff the choice of increased income rather than pensions and medical aid (several interviewees pointed out they would rather have the money than these long-term benefits). However of crucial importance is the fact that some interviewees said they went to other jobs, not for better pay but for the need to get a wider variety of skills and build their career paths. Thus an attraction to stay in a post in government could be facilitated by offering diverse and ongoing opportunities for going on training courses and diversifying skills.
The long-term approach is for organizations to accept that “turnover among young black staff is inevitable, but also reflects a global phenomenon among young people. Cappelli (2004) cited in HSRC (2009), argues that “… you [the organisations] are managing a river, not a dam”” It would be more useful to develop systems that “go with the flow” such as providing “challenging work, career development opportunities … [and] rewards based on individual performance” (HSRC 2009).
- Practice an open door effective management communication system
- Develop exciting career opportunities in the work place (see ICT company Altrons Young Presidents Forum initiative on their website - http://www.altron.co.za/vision2012/transformFuture.htm)
- Develop a conducive work place, including developing protocols to integrate socio-cultural differences
- Accept the global job-shopping culture and work with it, not against it
6.5 Shattering misconceptions: The Glass Ceiling
Chand consulting, an all-women company, have specific incentives for women, including offering flexibility at the office. “When kids are sick, and have to be collected, provisions are made”. Their perks for hard work are also women-orientated and break the glass ceiling in terms of being innovative and not typical of the male-owned company incentives.
Many EAPs don’t have specific strategies for gender equity or including women, and consequently do not have gender representative staff.
The Ombuds of UCT, Ms Zethu Mguqulwa, whose role it is to oversee transformation and race relations in the university, claims that,
“Women do not have enough confidence and courage and there are insufficient people whom they can look up to.”
RECOMMENDATION 9: Through the channel of women forums, find and showcase role models of successful women within the environmental work field. Success does not necessarily refer to high-achievement awards and big salary levels, but simply can refer to women who have achieved multiple goals, like getting a PhD and supporting children, or women who are fulfilled and self-confident in a supportive and flexible work environment. These women can be role models for inspiring others to enter the profession. They are role models whose achievements are attainable. There needs to be a voice for women, and such role models could provide it within the context of specially-developed women forums or associations.
Business Unity South Africa (Busa) say that, besides the awarding of BBBEE points, there are other compelling business reasons for including women in a business:
- Women can provide a competitive advantage by influencing and providing insight into the female role in the economy;
- Women see business from a different angle to men and, as a result, are a strategic resource; and
- In a largely male-dominated world a company run by women or one that reflects the important role that women play in business by including them in management stands a better chance of attracting young, professional women graduates.
“There’s a lack of commitment on the part of our male counterparts to ensure adequate mentorship and many women choose not to go the managerial route because the environment is hostile.” (BUSA cited in Mataboge 2010) Particular attention should be paid, to flexible working hours, part-time working, tele-working and sabbatical leave, as well as to the necessary financial and administrative provisions governing such arrangements. 
One of the women in the
RECOMMENDATION 10: In order to attract women into the EAP work environment, there needs to be some accommodation for women needs which are unique and should not be under-valued. Provision of child-caring services, flexibility of work schedules and fostering skills development are essential.
 Guidelines for an HCD Strategy in the Biodiversity Conservation Sector, HSRC 2009
Annual NACI Symposium on Leadership Roles of Women in Science, Technology and Innovation. The NACI symposium entitled, Enhancing the leadership roles of women in science, technology and innovation was held on