“When women are put in leadership roles, ‘brands get better and morale gets better’”

– Muhtar Kent (Chairman & CEO of the Coca-Cola Co.)


Women face multiple hurdles in climbing the corporate ladder. Discrimination, bias and stereotyping continue to drag down women in the workplace. The South African government has enacted laws to ensure all entities operating on South African soil adhere and strive to achieve gender equality in their workforce.

The South African government introduced the Broad Based Black Economic Employment law (BBBEE) to redress the injustices suffered by certain groups in society during apartheid. This law seeks to bring equality by bestowing benefits to these groups until there is equality in the labour market. Women are one of the benefiters of this law.

The government introduced a BBBEE Code to guide and measure the progress of transformation in the economy. There are different weightings allocated to different empowerment components. Each enterprise has a BBBEE scorecard that must be fulfilled. There are seven essential components of the scorecard: employment equity; skills development; preferential procurement; enterprise development; and socioeconomic development (including industry-specific and corporate social investment initiatives). In this way the South African government has made active efforts to ensure women are not only employed but also have ownership and positions of powers in organisations.

All entities operating in South Africa are legally required to contribute to the aims of the laws. Multinational corporations are afforded some flexibility in fulfilled these requirements. First where a multinational corporation’s global practice prevents compliance with this law then the multinational can make direct sale of equity to the benefitting group. Second the law can be circumvented if the multinational entity makes contributions (if direct sales is also not possible). The extent of this equity equivalent contribution is measured against 25 percent of the value of a multinational’s South African operations, or against 4 percent of the total revenue from its South African operations annually over the period of continued measurement. The multinational contribution may be a public programme/scheme and/or a private programme designed to benefit women. It could also be a programme focused on investment or a programme that encourages socio-economic development in South Africa. Often multinationals operate in a protected bubble in host countries in regards to laws and policies. This provision ensures that women will benefit from multinational operations through specific programmes or ownership.

BBBEE is a growth strategy that unlocks the full economic potential through inclusivity. The vision of this law is to give women access to the country’s wealth, skills development, equal opportunities and income equality. This law is essential in sustainable development, economic growth and is the right thing to do.