Crunching the Equity Numbers

‘The middle- management level is where all firms are at their weakest in terms of equality’


South Africa


Sunday Times (South Africa)

December 02, 2007

By Linda Doke

The number of qualified black accountants in South Africa is increasing, but far too slowly for the comfort of those driving efforts to boost employment equity within the sector.

The latest figures from the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) show that of the 26768 chartered accountants (CAs) registered as members of the association, only 912 are black. Of these, only 334 are black women. However, the CA Charter, which is in the final draft stages, is expected to be a substantial driver of equality.

Grant Gelink, the chief executive of Deloitte, said the vision of the charter was to "grow the number of black people in the CA profession to reflect the country’s population demographics, and to empower them to meaningfully participate in and sustain the growth of the economy". The CA Charter proposes 60% black representivity at senior management level by 2011 compared with 34% now.

"The middle-management level is where all firms are at their weakest in terms of equality, with an average of only 27%," said Gelink. An important link in achieving the goals is Thuthuka, the profession’s transformation initiative. Zulu for "develop", the initiative works with a number of schools and universities, identifying learners with potential, and grooming these students in the necessary academic disciplines for accountancy, such as mathematics, science and English.

The programme is funded by Saica, the Department of Labour, the Seta for Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and Other Financial Services, the Department of Education, the Department of Science and Technology, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Johnnic Holdings, Peermont Global East Rand and Kagiso Khulani Supervision Food Services.

Saica executive president Ignatius Sehoole describes the Thuthuka Bursary Fund as "the accountancy profession’s effective vehicle for attracting and retaining black talent by collectively bringing funding, inspired transformation goals and centralised expertise to bear with South Africa‘s leading universities".

Ajen Sita, national head of audit at Ernst & Young and chairman of the Thuthuka Education Upliftment Fund, said that by recognising potential at school level and grooming it through tertiary education, the profession is building a solid pipeline for future equality. The efforts are showing results. While only 13% of the 26 768 CAs in South Africa are black, Saica figures show 53% of all its trainees and 49% of the candidates who sat the 2007 qualifying exam are black. –





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