South Africa's workforce

Image via: Adobe Stock

South Africa’s workforce: How long will it take to equalise?

Men in 2019, occupied 75,6% of the top management positions in South Africa’s workforce compared to females at 26,4%.

South Africa's workforce

Image via: Adobe Stock

Gender transformation and equality in South Africa’s workforce appears to be slow following the release of the 20th Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) Annual report 2019–20.

According to the report, men still occupy the majority of top management positions compared to women. 


Regarding gender, men in 2019 occupied 75,6% of top management positions compared to women at a measly 26,4%. 

On the gender front, men on average in the three-year trend analysis, hovered at around mid-60%, whereas that of women averaged at 34%.

The section above of the report covers the statistical analysis of the workforce representation compared to the national and regional/provincial demographics of the Economically Active Population (EAP), which is contained in the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) conducted and published by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).  

The  EAP  includes people between the ages 15 to 64 years, who are either employed or unemployed but seeking employment.

The  EAP  is used as a  benchmark to assist employers in the analysis of their workforce to determine the degree of under or over-representation of the designated groups in the SA workforce. It also guides employers in the setting of numerical goals and targets for the achievement of an equitable and representative workforce.

In figure 3, shown above, one can see that men clearly occupied the majority of top management positions between 2017 and 2019.


Commission for Employment Equity Chairperson Tabea Kabinde said that the report shows that South Africa’s workplace remains on the same trajectory at the Top Management level. Kabinde said there was nothing significant, especially at the top two occupational levels (top and senior management).

“This does worry me because it suggests that the pace of transformation and representation is very slow and that it will take long for representation to reflect the country’s economically active population (EAP),” she said. 

“The Bottom line is that there is no will to effect transformation,” she added. 

Regarding gender movements, Kabinde said it’s almost as though employers do not hear the plight of women.

“This being women’s month — it is almost as if employers do not hear the plight of women — that we are here. We want our place at the table, we are capable. We are not asking of you to give us something that we should not have access to. We say recognise us, recognise our skill(s), and recognise what we bring to the party,” said Kabinde.