While there has been a lot of debate over the new Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) codes being stricter in terms of scoring and implications for business, remaining BEE-compliant remains positively attainable if the business remains truly committed to the cause.
The changes implemented as of May 2015 saw the seven categories for compliance being condensed into five, three of which are compulsory in order to remain compliant. This year, Manpower was able to achieve a Level One BEE rating through several initiatives.
An important factor in achieving a favourable BEE score (and to perhaps reach a Level One rating) is to find and work with the right partners. Your ED partner should be a business that you are able to assist in terms of development and growth and, therefore, one you believe in. Where possible, connect with suppliers who have favourable BEE ratings and are committed to changing the landscape in South Africa. Not only will this assist in improving your BEE rating, but will also assist you in supporting local businesses.
In line with this, it is also vital to invest in the skills of those within and outside of your organisation. Under the old codes, sending employees on short, one-day courses may have sufficed, but the new codes call for more long-term investment into skills development. This can be carried out through awarding bursaries and running internship programmes, for example, which not only invest in education but also give candidates on-the-job training and experience. Just investing money into education like a tick-box exercise does not benefit the economy in the long run, as there are an abundance of young people with qualifications who cannot find employment. Businesses need to focus on making these candidates marketable and employable as well, assisting them to make a positive contribution to the economy.
Promoting internally is important for achieving a favourable BEE score, and for this to be effective it is important to work each day on building a pipeline of suitable candidates for future management positions. Going out and looking for candidates solely to fulfill the BEE codes is a frivolous exercise, as the candidates may not be invested in the business and will more than likely move on after a short while. Of course, candidates who have been with the company a long time may also leave (this is always a risk), but building a stable internal pipeline of candidates will ensure that your business will be able to recover.
Most importantly, businesses and business owners need to realise that BEE is not a one-day event or a task allocated to one person in the business. BEE is a continuous commitment that needs to be part of the company’s DNA. Finding the right BEE partner will make this easier, given that it will be a cause that the management and employees are truly passionate about, and will also contribute positively to company culture and the economy as a whole.
Planning ahead is essential to ensure a top BEE rating—always think ahead into the next year and what can be done. Have it on the agenda for discussion every week, if possible, and ensure that your staff are involved. This way, it will never feel like a last minute, mundane task, but will become an exciting part of your company’s culture.
BEE is not just about giving away money; it’s about investing time into causes and businesses that fit in with your business ethos and beliefs. Opportunities are everywhere, and you can meet your future BEE partners in the most unlikely places. BEE if done the right way for the right reasons should be a win-win strategy for all stakeholders.