BUSA response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address

As the apex organisation representing South African business, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) welcomes the President’s focus on the economy and transformation, as well as his unequivocal endorsement of the South African Reserve Bank’s constitutionally enshrined mandate and independence.

 

The SONA comes at a time when South Africa is at an economic T-junction, underscored by pedestrian growth, high levels of unemployment and endemic inequality. It is against this backdrop that BUSA believes that there needs to be recognition among social partners that the country is in crisis, and that SA Inc must mount a collective effort to reverse this trend. Social contracts must form the core of this effort, and we will be doing all we can to strengthen relations with government, labour and civil society to ensure a concerted effort.

 

The President’s pronouncements on Eskom are broadly in alignment with business’ view on how to deal with the crises engulfing the power utility, particularly the imminent appointment of a chief restructuring officer. However, timeframes were not announced by the President and we urge the President to publicly announce a clear timeframe, with milestones, for the implementations of recommendations of his Advisory Panel. This is so given the prominence of Eskom in any discussion around economic revival. Furthermore, a comprehensive plan and strategy on state-owned enterprises is still outstanding, even as the contagion spreads and poses a major risk to public finances, which increases the spectre of a sovereign credit downgrade. We urge the President to provide this detail at the earliest opportunity.

 

BUSA agrees with the focus on education, skills and health. A fit-for-purpose education and skills framework will be a key enabler of innovation and job creation. Conversely, the poor state of the country’s education system and its skills mismatch with industry demand have been identified as the main hindrances to South Africa realising its economic potential.

 

We also welcome the emphasis on capable and ethical leadership. It is only through capable and ethical leadership that the country will be able to regain lost ground and start making inroads on its myriad challenges. But BUSA is concerned that, with the calibre of many of the recent appointments of parliamentary committee chairs, SA Inc will not be able to address its various challenges in a forthright and comprehensive manner.

 

Business welcomes the planned changes to the current visa regulations, which have impeded tourism and hindered South Africa’s ability to attract scarce skills. However, we urge the President to suspend the current regulations which have made it difficult for tourists to visit and skills to come into the country. The government must address this with urgency and in consultation with social partners.

 

BUSA also notes the commitment to start the process of rolling out much needed spectrum.

 

The government must make good on its promise to place the National Development Plan as the point of departure of economic policies to ensure alignment in action and the design of policy and regulations.

 

The President said, at the start of his address, that it is now the time for implementation. However, we did not hear much on real implementation plans. Instead, the SONA is a restatement of the myriad challenges SA faces and a broad sweep of what we need to do. We now urge the President to engage with business to put on the table hard plans with clear implementation timeframes and milestones.

 

BUSA welcomes the President’s commitment to a social compact in the national interest and we stand ready to work with him, but within a context of taking hard decisions and unequivocal messages that build investor confidence.

 

“We are well aware of the challenges confronting the country. But the time for talking is over, we must enter the realm of implementation, and we must do it quickly. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, and South Africa must prepare to adapt or risk economic displacement. That is a scenario we can ill-afford as a country.

 

“As business, we stand ready and willing to play a meaningful and constructive role, as we believe that the government cannot go it alone. But we need detail, and we need it soon, if we are to strengthen confidence at home and abroad,” said BUSA President Sipho M Pityana.

 

BUSA on new Cabinet: focus must now shift to implementation

 

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) notes the new executive announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday 29 May 2019. BUSA welcomes the continuity in the core economic ministries; the gender parity in the composition of the Cabinet; and the introduction of young talent. While the merger of some departments is welcomed, it was hoped that the Cabinet would be more streamlined.

BUSA congratulates President Ramaphosa on having announced his Cabinet and welcomes the emphasis on: ethical leadership; the undertaking to strengthen the fight against state capture; the pledge to ensure better co-ordination among ministries; and the promise to ensure an efficient and effective government that exercises better stewardship over public finances.

BUSA was particularly encouraged that there will be continuity in the finance portfolio. The organisation expects this to signal that the government will make good on its promise to pursue a path of fiscal consolidation, address the state wage bill and hit the ground running on the work of getting SA Inc back on a growth path.

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) remain the greatest risk to public finances, with Eskom being the biggest concern. The resolution of the future modalities and functioning of SOEs is crucial. So is the way forward in relation to crafting South Africa’s industrial and trade policies in the wake of recent developments in the global environment.

The organisation is studying the other key appointments to the economic and justice clusters, which it views as crucial in efforts to grow the economy, send a positive signal to the markets and restore the credibility and trust lost in the criminal justice system.

Now, the focus must shift towards implementation and bolstering of capacity in the various departments. The country is at an economic cross-roads and is faced with an unemployment and inequality crisis, which has been characterised as a key threat to democratic stability.

BUSA remains a committed social partner and stands ready to play its part in finding solutions to South Africa’s challenges and to fulfil a constructive role in restoring the economy, as well as shoring up investor confidence. The organisation will be seeking urgent engagements with ministers in the economic cluster to determine aligned actions.

Media enquiries: mediadesk@busa.org.za

BUSA on election outcome and road ahead

  • Economy most pressing task
  • Credible Cabinet key 
  • Structured engagement crucial

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) congratulates the IEC, election observers and the justice cluster for ensuring a free, fair and credible election. BUSA wishes the ANC and its leadership well on the party’s electoral victory and acknowledges all the other parties who contested the sixth general election.

BUSA wishes to acknowledge the millions of South Africans who exercised their right to vote and commends the media for its coverage of the poll.   

Economy and Cabinet

As the sixth democratically elected administration prepares to tackle its five-year mandate, BUSA considers the economy to be the most pressing task, requiring urgent action. South Africa’s growth rate remains low, its unemployment high, its investment levels inadequate relative to peer countries and its public finances a source of concern.

An aligned, focused, compact and capable Cabinet will enable speedier decision making and implementation to address the country’s economic challenges. Cabinet ministers, directors-general and other key staff in the economic and justice clusters need to be appointed on the basis of competence, capability, experience and integrity. These capabilities will be critical to oversee an economic turnaround and ensuring justice is served in the quest to combat corruption.

Investors require key interventions, including: swift implementation of comprehensive reform of state-owned entities, with Eskom at the top of the list; addressing public finances, particularly the fiscal deficit and rising public debt; eliminating barriers to investment by ensuring policy certainty; and addressing the low economic growth rate.

Future engagement

Business stands ready to partner with the newly elected administration. BUSA believes it is imperative that there be a structured engagement mechanism to drive forward the key priorities for investment, growth, employment and social compacting.

BUSA will be seeking an early engagement with the incoming administration to discuss these issues and how to form a partnership to achieve the collective objectives of inclusive growth.

 

BUSA calls for urgent engagement on land expropriation

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) has noted the intention by the African National Congress (ANC) 54th National Conference to initiate some amendments to the Constitution of South Africa in order to achieve expropriation without compensation, while at the same time indicating that expropriation would also have to pass a sustainability test so as not to threaten food security, agricultural production and other sectors of the economy. Article 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, provides for the expropriation of land that is compensated in a “just and equitable” manner. Article 25 further recognises the need to redress the historical injustices in the process of addressing land restitution.

BUSA expressed serious concern that the ANC’s decisions on land would result in policy uncertainty with negative socio-economic impact particularly undesirable in the current economic climate. BUSA said that the intention to initiate amendments to the Constitution of South Africa, when the existing provisions in Article 25 had not been implemented, was unwarranted.  BUSA indicated that it will be seeking an urgent meeting with the ANC leadership to obtain clarity on this matter, as well as on other matters of key interest arising out of the conference.

“The issue of land reform is complex. The pace and depth of transformation has been patently insufficient – this needs to be comprehensively addressed. At the same time we need to build confidence so as to stimulate investment and production in the agricultural sector as a critical part of a diverse, inclusive and globally competitive economy,” stated BUSA CEO, Tanya Cohen.

BUSA views land restitution as an important instrument for fostering economic growth and black economic transformation. The acceleration of land redistribution needs to balance the urgency of social redress with sustainable land usage and food security.

BUSA encourages business to facilitate right to vote

As the country prepares for its sixth general election on Wednesday 8 May 2019, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) calls on business to do everything possible to encourage workers to exercise their right to vote.

 

This is a constitutionally enshrined and hard-fought for right which we all cherish. For this reason, BUSA appeals to businesses that are operating on the day to come to practical arrangements that will make it possible for employees who wish to vote on Wednesday to do so.

 

It is in this spirit that BUSA urges all employers, including those that may it be our members, large and small, to ensure that they encourage workers to get to polling stations to cast their vote.

 

BUSA wishes the IEC, as well as election observers, well as they shoulder the noble responsibility to ensure that the electoral authority conducts a credible, and free and fair election. We wish the county’s citizens and all the political parties the best in South Africa’s quest towards a successful sixth democratic election.

Joint Black Business Council & Business Unity South Africa statement on recent meeting

  • State of the economy
  • Areas of mutual interest
  • Common platform for business to engage

 

The Black Business Council (BBC) and Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) held an eight-a-side exploratory meeting on Thursday 4 April 2019, at which both organisations discussed issues critical to business.

 

The two organisations agreed on the need for a common platform for a business voice and have thus appointed a committee (four from each organisation) to explore the modalities of how that can be achieved.

 

The BBC and BUSA are equally concerned about the precarious state of the economy and will seek to work in a more aligned manner in engaging the government on the best way to navigate the country out of its current challenges.

 

Furthermore, both organisations are equally concerned about the slow progress in transforming the economy to realise the meaningful participation of black people and small business therein. Both organisations are in agreement that transformation is a critical enabler of economic growth in the country.

 

There was also common recognition of the negative impact of corruption and state capture on the economy and the functioning of the state. The BBC and BUSA are worried that this may have eroded public trust in both business and the government. The organisations will seek to play an active part in the search for a solution.

 

Both organisations are committed to rebuilding public trust by encouraging ethical conduct and leadership in business and society in general.

 

The organisations will be taking the issues raised at the meeting back to their membership with a view to obtaining input and mandate thereon, including crafting a way forward.

 

ENDS

 

About the BBC

 

The Black Business Council (BBC) is the overarching confederation that represents black professional, business associations and chambers. The primary purpose of the BBC is to lobby government on policy related matters and to play an advocacy role where policies are in place in order to accelerate the participation of black business in the mainstream economy.

 

About BUSA

 

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) is the principal representative of business in South Africa. It is a confederation of unisectoral business organisations; corporate representative organisations; chambers of commerce & industry; and professional organisations. BUSA serves as an overarching structure representing business on cross-cutting issues relating to the economy, social policy, trade, the environment and transformation in national and international structures and bodies and is the representative of business at Nedlac.

 

JOINT STATEMENT BY PRESIDENCY AND BUSINESS UNITY SOUTH AFRICA ON ESKOM

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) has assured President Ramaphosa of the business community’s support for current efforts to stabilise electricity supply in the country and to secure the sustainability of Eskom as a power utility.

BUSA has made a commitment to leverage its membership in order to place expertise, skills and technological interventions at the disposal of government and Eskom, to reinforce actions that are currently being implemented to stabilise Eskom and to secure the supply of electricity.

BUSA’s engagement on these initiatives will serve to complement and strengthen the work being done by the management and board of Eskom in partnership with the Special Cabinet Committee on Eskom chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza and the technical review team on Eskom that is led by Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.

BUSA offered its commitment to President Ramaphosa at a meeting in Pretoria on Wednesday 3 April 2019, when Minister Gordhan updated South Africa’s largest business federation on the challenges facing Eskom and actions that are unfolding to mitigate the immediate crisis and secure the long-term sustainability of the power utility.

 

BUSA is the largest business confederation in the country and serves as an apex structure for a broad range of organisations that represent various sectors of business. It represents business on cross-cutting issues relating to economic, social, trade, environment and transformation in national and international structures and bodies and is the representative of business at Nedlac.

BUSA views the revitalisation of Eskom as the single most important priority for the economy and underpins inclusive growth.

The organisation has proposed the creation of a collaborative platform where business, government and Eskom can work together to explore practical solutions to address the short-term operational challenges facing the utility.

This platform will enable regular and transparent communication with the business community, lend operational and technical expertise and solutions, as well as leverage available human capital by secondment or other means.

BUSA will engage with its members on issues, including demand management, that could help to reduce pressure on the national grid.

Wednesday’s meeting agreed that greater public and business confidence pertaining to the supply of electricity depended on improved co-ordination and communication within government around Eskom, and between government and business. This applied similarly to government’s communication with the nation at large.

The meeting welcomed the increasing frequency and depth of communication by Minister Gordhan and Eskom chair Jabu Mabuza on the utility and called for this effort to be intensified.

President Ramaphosa welcomed the initiative presented by BUSA in the spirit of Thuma Mina and said the new channel for greater transparency and the sharing of information would facilitate and encourage improved co-ordination among stakeholders that would assist in the day-to-day improvement of the current situation.

Media enquiries:

For the Presidency: Khusela Diko, Spokesperson to the President – 072 854 5707

For BUSA: mediadesk@busa.org.za

Issued by the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa and BUSA

Moody’s reprieve an opportunity to institute urgent reforms, says BUSA

 

  • Political stability required
  • Policy certainty must be prioritised
  • Credible plan for SOEs needed
  • Structural reform critical 
  • Pro-growth roadmap crucial  

 

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) calls on SA Inc to effect the urgent and necessary economic reforms following Moody’s Investors Service decision to defer an announcement on the outcome of its review of the country’s sovereign credit ratings.

 

This is a welcome reprieve and ensures that South Africa will remain in the Citigroup World Bond Index, a key instrument which will enable the Government to continue raising much needed liquidity in the capital markets. SA Inc ought to take this as an opportunity to get its fiscal house in order and its policies aligned to a pro-growth and confidence-inspiring economic strategy, according to BUSA.

 

The five focus areas that BUSA views as critical in efforts to ensure South Africa retains its investment grade sovereign credit rating are: political stability, policy certainty, the reform of state-owned entities (SOEs), structural reform and a credible growth roadmap.

 

Political stability

In previous ratings reviews, Moody’s – as well as Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings – had expressed concerns about political noise, noting increased pressure to pursue populist policies and on the country’s oversight institutions. With the General Election scheduled for May 2019, South Africa requires a political trajectory that inspires confidence in its ability to effect an economic turnaround. A free and fair elections process will also bolster confidence in the strength of the country’s institutions.

 

Thus far, the build-up to the General Election has been peaceful and all registered political parties have agreed to adhere to and subject themselves to the Electoral Code of Conduct.

 

In light of the ongoing Zondo Commission of Inquiry – and the testimony brought before it about political patronage and its role in state capture – and the recent signing into law of the Political Party Funding Bill, BUSA calls on political parties to be transparent about their sources of funding.

 

Policy certainty

 Land expropriation without compensation and the visa regime are two of the most significant policy issues that need to be comprehensively addressed. The Government needs to work with social partners in determining timelines, modalities and an implementation framework.

 

SOE reform

 Eskom remains the greatest risk to the economy and a comprehensive and an aligned position is required between the power utility and its stakeholders on how to effect a restructuring within the context of a broader overhaul of the energy sector.

 

In its monetary policy committee statement this week, the Reserve Bank revised down its growth forecasts for 2019 and 2020, citing weak business confidence and the potential resumption of load shedding. This highlights the gravity of the situation and the need for urgent intervention.

 

Structural reform

 South Africa’s skills and education framework remains out of alignment and continues to undermine the country’s growth potential. It has also been referenced by various institutions as a key impediment in realising the country’s growth potential as a developing economy.

 

Growth roadmap

President Cyril Ramaphosa released the Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan in September last year. BUSA calls on the Government to move with speed on the establishment of an Infrastructure Fund and to work with all social partners, business in particular, in the formulation and implementation of the steps necessary both to inspire confidence and urgently reposition the country’s growth trajectory.

BUSA appeals to SA business to mobilise and assist in Cyclone Idai relief efforts

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) calls on business to enjoin the humanitarian efforts currently underway in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) following the devastating effects of Cyclone Idai.

 

Parts of SADC States Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have been left devasted in the aftermath of the cyclone. On behalf of business in South Africa, BUSA extends its sympathy to all those affected.

 

BUSA acknowledges the Government’s speedy and appropriate response to the crisis and commends the various rescue and humanitarian efforts by South African organisations and actors.

 

“We know that some relief has been provided by South African companies that have operations in these countries. This moment calls upon all of us to lend our support to the humanitarian efforts currently underway, however small,” said BUSA President Sipho M Pityana.

 

BUSA encourages Members to support these humanitarian efforts: be it through financial donations or in-kind contributions, as advised by the various agencies on the ground.

 

BUSA advises that donations of items and goods, including clothing, food and water, may be made to the Department of International Relations & Co-operation (Dirco) in Pretoria.

 

Further information on how to assist can be obtained from:

  1. Gift of the Givers
  2. Penny Appeal SA
  3. Dirco: Companies that are able to assist are requested to contact:

BUSA CEO remarks at ILO and IOE International Women’s Day event in Geneva

 

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) CEO Tanya Cohen remarks at the International Labour Organisation and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) International Women’s Day discussion under the theme: ‘A quantum leap for gender equality: for a better future of work for all’, (11.00am-1pm), in Geneva.

 

 

Introduction

 

  • We are gathered here as women from different professional spheres under the umbrella the Future of Work and how best to ensure that women are included in this framework. Firstly, before delving deeply into the topic. I want to congratulate the ILO for turning 100 this year. This milestone coincided with the Global Commission Report on the Future of Work, with which we are seized at BUSA. In fact, we are in the process, together with others in the SADC Private Sector Forum, of developing a position in preparation for the International Labour Conference.
  • I am honoured to be here with you today, representing both BUSA and the IOE. BUSA is the apex business organisation in South Africa and represents a cross-section of business organisations, both large and small. BUSA is the business social partner on the National Economic Development and Labour Council (colloquially referred to as Nedlac). The thrust of our work is informed by our vision to create a transformed and inclusive economy through progressive policies. The IOE is the largest private-sector network in the world, with more than 150 business and employer organisation members in more than 140 countries, representing more than 50-million companies, large and small. The IOE is turning 100 next year.
  • Although International Women’s Day is not an official public holiday in South Africa, we celebrate Women’s Day on August 9 annually, which is a public holiday. We observe the day to celebrate and honour women’s role in the struggle against apartheid, as well as the historic women’s anti-pass march.
  • As we celebrate the milestones and breakthroughs women have made in multiple spaces, there a long way to go to inculcate a culture that is fully inclusive of women.
  • In South Africa’s case, the labour laws have improved progressively to incorporate pro-women policies, such as improved paid maternity benefits through unemployment insurance and paternity leave through basic conditions of employment.  In our country, employers are not permitted to discriminate against expectant mothers, nor are they allowed to take punitive measures against women who go on maternity leave. In fact, the law requires that women not be prejudiced professionally for starting families or choosing to have children. These provisions extend to women who also choose to adopt. Our employment equity legislation provides an explicit provision for equal pay for work of equal value, and additional recognition is given in the black economic empowerment codes for black women.
  • That said, we have a long journey ahead in removing the artificial and societal barriers that have prevented women from sitting on boards and becoming captains of industry.
  • The situation in South Africa in that regard mirrors that which has unfolded in the global community – there are too few women heading big enterprises and occupying boardroom seats.

 

 

The business case for gender equality

 

  • According to a recent, joint survey conducted by the IOE and the ILO Bureau for Employers Activities on women’s economic empowerment, women’s inclusion in the economy is an important factor to: build strong economies; establish more stable and just societies; achieve internationally agreed goals for sustainability and human rights; improve quality of life; and boost competitiveness and profitability.
  • All of those pillars are what inform and anchor BUSA’s strategy: a solid economy, stability and equality – although it is important to note that we do not explicitly identify women as central to this.
  • BUSA’s Business Approach to Transformation is cited as an example of enabling policy whose coherent approach could be used as a framework for the inclusion of women in the wider economy. We are incredibly proud of this.
  • In addition, enabling women to acquire qualifications and develop skills, and to join the labour market boosts incomes and wellbeing throughout the society. A woman-centric approach to economic growth has wider benefits for society including: raising healthier, better-educated children and the improved welfare of the family.
  • In South Africa, there are pockets of our society which recognise the benefits of creating an enabling and inclusive environment for women. We have what is called Bring a Girl Child to Work Day, when girls throughout the country experience the diverse world of work through the eyes of women role models in different fields, ranging from the arts and entertainment, to the corporate world and technical fields.
  • BUSA has also recently facilitated a number of initiatives in the Presidential Jobs Summit that will enhance the access of women to work. Notable examples in this regard include:
    • the KYB incubator project that aims to establish 2,400 women-owned early childhood development centres in Gauteng;
    • the commitment for the private sector to assist in the  training of nurses and community careworkers;
    • the access for women, along with men, to access finance for small business development through Finfind;
    • facilitation of pathways for youth to employment through Harambee; and
    • the agreement for the NBI to develop a practical framework on how to implement equal pay for work of equal value for larger employers.
  • International Monetary Fund MD Christine Lagarde[1] recently spoke to the Guardian and said that having more women in the workplace could boost the economy. According to Lagarde, employing more women and tackling sexism in the workplace is the key to making the world economy richer, more equal and less prone to devastating financial collapses. This is also supported by the OECD: OECD research shows that, on average, across its member countries, a 50% reduction in the gender gap in labour-force participation would boost GDP an extra 6% by 2030.

 

  • Practically, BUSA has lent its support to the African Regional Labour Administration Centre, which recently hosted a workshop on gender equality in the workplace and a high-level symposium on violence and harassment of women AND men at work.
  • BUSA, as the business social partner at Nedlac, is spearheading efforts for greater transparency on executive pay in South Africa, while also advocating for transformation in the broader economy.

 

Global Commission on the Future of Work report

  • The Global Commission on the Future of Work released its report in January 2019. BUSA endorses many of its principles, especially the focus on a human-centric approach. The inclusion of women therein should go without saying. BUSA notes, however, that a number of the proposals  in the report assume that comprehensive social security is available and affordable. With South Africa’s limited fiscal space, this is harder to achieve.
  • The Global Commission report envisages a number of transitions:
    • From profit and growth centred to a human-centred economy
    • From a command and control workplace to one based on sharing, learning, creativity and innovation
    • From a one size-fits-all approach, to customised practices that meet the individual and the employer (private sector or government’s) operating needs
    • From silo thinking to integrative thinking
    • From classroom foundational and tertiary education to platform connected and online training opportunities and lifelong learning
  • Building a brighter future involves investing in women and girls. Skills, knowledge and know-how – collectively known as human capital – have become an enormous share of global wealth, which is bigger than produced capital such as factories or industry, or natural resources. But human capital wealth is not evenly distributed around the world. How, then, can developing countries build their human capital and prepare for a more technologically demanding future? The answer is they must invest much more in the building blocks of human capital – in nutrition, health, education, social protection, and jobs. And the biggest returns will come from educating and nurturing girls, empowering women, and ensuring that social safety nets increase their resilience.[2]
  • Recommendation 3 of the report makes reference to gender equality: “Adopt a transformative and measurable agenda for gender equality by making care an equal responsibility for men and women, ensuring accountability for progress, strengthening the collective representation of women, eliminating gender-based discrimination, and ending violence and harassment at work.” It further states that gender equality starts at home. It is necessary to adopt policies that promote equal sharing of care and domestic responsibilities between men and women. Accountability for progress on gender equality needs to be ensured. BUSA and the IOE (the global network of employers which BUSA is a part of) agree with this reference.
  • There is a need, however, to do more research on the effectiveness of pay transparency and gender parity policies. Legislating is one part of the solution, but without implementation to deliver systemic empowerment it cannot be successful. Shifting centuries of discrimination and practices that have prevented women from participating fully in the world of work requires a multiplicity of approaches and interventions.

 

 

Evidence of progress made by women in the labour market

 

  • There is evidence of progress made by women in the labour market which needs to be acknowledged:
    • According to UN Women’s Annual Report 2016-2017, empowered women around the world are achieving some visible progress. The Annual Report cites various achievements for women, which have resulted from 72 adapted or amended laws to strengthen women’s rights in 61 countries and the training of 4,000 aspiring and elected women leaders in 51 countries.
    • With regard to the world of work for women, the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2017 tracks the evolution of the overall Index since 2006 by geographic region. It highlights the local progress towards gender inclusion undertaken over the past decade in regions such as Western Europe, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. Although more work needs to be done, in all world regions it records a narrower gender gap than the one observed 11 years ago.
    • According to the OECD Report on the Implementation of the OECD Gender Recommendations, there is some cause for optimism – although more women work part time and for low pay, women’s labour force participation rates have moved closer to men’s rates over the past few decades across the OECD.
    • According to the World Bank, the percentage of women participating in the labour workforce between 1990 and 2017 has increased in many developing countries and has increased overall in the Least Developed Countries, Sub-Saharan African countries and low-income countries.

 

What companies, IOE members and IOE are doing to advance gender equality and promote decent work

 

  • The IOE is a Steering Committee member of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), and last September 2018 made a pledge at an ILO side event in New York: ‘Strengthen our action to promote gender equality and non-discrimination good practices as part of our commitment to preserve and defend Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, while paying special attention to gender-based discrimination in pay.’ Other organisations, governments and companies also made pledges to EPIC.
  • The IOE felt that it was important for it to be a part of EPIC because:
  • The work of EPIC adds value to the IOE’s own work on gender equality and diversity,
  • It provides a platform for the IOE and its member federations to express their views and ideas on how to tackle the gender pay gap, and
  • The ILO, UN Women and the OECD have the resources to better understand the barriers that women face and come up with policy action to tackle this issue at the global level. It therefore gives the IOE access to experts in the field and this will give them a chance to not only learn from the experts but to also give constructive inputs to their work from a business perspective.
  • Examples from other IOE members include:
    • Honduras Private Business Council: provides training and victim support for violence and harassment against women; it educates through a documentary of girls’ stories conveyed by leading actresses; and promotes entrepreneurship among women and youth business development services through Micro, Small and Medium Development Centres, promotes women’s entrepreneurship through the Gender Academy, fairs, business match making services.
    • Montenegro Employer Federation: has Employer’s Code of Ethics which binds all members to respect the principles of the UN Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), founded the Business Women Association of Montenegro to support women in entrepreneurship and management, it organises the Annual CSR Award Conference to promote good practices, including gender-related practices; and has developed an assessment mechanism for the “environment for women” which is regularly reviewed.
    • Iran Confederation of Employers’ Associations: has partnered with civil society by forming an umbrella organisation to promote gender equality in the context of the SDGs, offers international expertise and training opportunities to staff on gender equality.
    • Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: is a member of the South Eastern Europe Women Business Angels Network (SEEWBAN) which aims to increase the number of Women Business Angels in Europe. Through SEEWBAN, different training courses are provided for female employees and their member affiliates. SEEWBAN facilitates the funding of Women Entrepreneurs by Business Angels. It has mentoring schemes for women professionals in place and participates in different CSR initiatives such as supporting women in the International Women’s Club of Sofia. It uses online platforms to enhance training and mentoring.

 

BUSA’s initiatives on gender equality

 

  • BUSA has devised an Ethical Code of Conduct to ensure that the organisation conducts its business in a manner that is transparent and fair. BUSA proactively ensures that is hires staff from diverse backgrounds and through the lense of ensuring gender parity in its skills mix.
  • BUSA follows Board guidelines in appointing representatives to external structures and opportunities. One of the criteria to be considered is demographic composition.
  • Some of BUSA’s members focus on the economic inclusion of women. BUSA supports these members by lending support, seeking opportunities for collaboration and providing strategic direction and opening doors that would otherwise be closed to them.
  • As mentioned earlier, BUSA, with the help of other social partners and its members, has through the Jobs Summit facilitated a number of initiatives that support gender equality and it is working to ensure transparency in executive pay and is part of efforts to ensure that the South African economy is transformed and inclusive.
  • We have been in exploratory talks with women in water, among others, to ensure that women are not left of the national infrastructure conversation.

 

 

Concluding remarks

 

  • The private sector, through the IOE, has been and can continue to play an important role in gender equality. It would, like many global challenges, require a holistic multi-stakeholder and multipronged approach, and BUSA stands ready to play an enabling and constructive role therein.
  • Thank you, once again, for inviting me to this event.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/01/more-women-in-the-workplace-could-boost-economy-by-35-says-christine-lagarde

[2] https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/build-brighter-future-invest-women-and-girls