Rich white men in suits still dominate business in South Africa

While only 10% of JSE listed companies have a non-white CEO at the helm, looking at the make up of company boards paints an equally worrying picture.

Recent data from the 2015 Jack Hammer Executive Report showed that the number of black CEOs running the top 40 JSE listed companies has declined from 15% in 2014 to only 10% in 2015.

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat‚ CEO of the executive recruitment company‚ “the big picture suggests that executive transformation is set to remain peripheral for the next five to 10 years”.

The report also showed that‚ out of a total of 334 people constituting the executive teams in SA’s Top 40 companies‚ 21% were black South Africans.

BusinessTech found that of 537 directors on South Africa’s top 40 listed company boards, 72% (386) are white.

That means less than a third (28% – or 151) of all directorate positions are held by non-white executives – and of the total, even fewer are held by women, only 18% (95).

On average, companies have boards of 13 members – nine white and four non-white. On average, two board members will be women.

All data on company directorates were sourced from their respective websites and latest integrated reports, and includes both executive and non-executive directors. Company secretaries were not included.

Diversity on the JSE

Most and least diverse companies

It’s worth noting that the four companies led by non-white CEOs are not necessarily the most diverse companies, overall.

MTN (Sifiso Dabengwa), FirstRand (Sizwe Nxasana), Vodacom (Shameel Joosub) and Tiger Brands (Peter Matlare) are all headed up by a non-white executive, however only MTN has more than half its board represented by non-white directors – only three board members are women (21.4%).

Of the Top 40 companies, six stand out for having more than half of their directorates represented by non-white executives (expressed as a % of the total board).

These are the top JSE Top 40 companies for racial diversity

Company Total board members Non-white board members %
MTN 14 9 64.3%
Nedbank 16 10 62.5%
Sasol 13 7 53.8%
Sanlam 16 8 50.0%
Aspen 10 5 50.0%
Tiger Brands 12 6 50.0%
Standard Bank 15 7 46.7%
Barclays Africa 13 6 46.2%
Vodacom 12 5 41.7%
Bidvest 17 7 41.2%

Of these companies, however, only one hits a high note with female representation – Aspen – with 30% of its board of 10 being filled by women.

The company with the highest female representation is Old Mutual, which has four women on its board of 13 (38.5%), followed by Netcare, which has three women, on its board of 9 (33.3%).

Bidvest shares the top with Old Mutual with the highest number of women on its board – five – though in a group of 17, it’s only the fourth highest in the top 40, at 29.4%.

These are the top 10 JSE Top 40 companies for gender diversity

Company Total board Members Female board members %
Old Mutual 13 5 38.5%
Netcare 9 3 33.3%
Aspen 10 3 30.0%
Bidvest 17 5 29.4%
Mondi 11 3 27.3%
Woolworths 15 4 26.7%
Tiger Brands 12 3 25.0%
Vodacom 12 3 25.0%
Billiton 12 3 25.0%
BAT 12 3 25.0%

Companies which lag in diversity at the director level are often large multi-nationals. Notably, luxury goods company Richemont, which is chaired by South African billionaire Johann Rupert, has a directorate of 18 people – all of which are white.

The only woman on the board is Absa CEO, Maria Ramos, who represents the totality of diversity on the board.

Other companies which have zero non-whites in charge are British American Tobacco and Glencore.

Companies which have no female representation on their boards are Remgro (another company chaired by Rupert), Brait and PSG.

More on transformation

Why it’s hard to be black in South Africa

Black middle class on the rise in South Africa

White vs black unemployment in South Africa

How many black South Africans benefit from BEE

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Rich white men in suits still dominate business in South Africa