Goal setting to achieve affirmative action targets in the face the HIV/AIDS pandemic
A major requirement of the Employment Equity Act is a workforce-planning requirement in the form of numerical goal setting (affirmative action goals) for designated groups, being Asians, Blacks, Coloureds, Women, and People With Disabilities.
Workforce planning (at the most elementary level) means having the right people in the right job at the right time. This requires a company to know what skills are available at any point in time, what the average labour turnover is, what it’s internal or planned job changes will be and so on. All, nice and logical! You can even have a software programme work out the moves for you and simply track everything over time, and factor in your equity goals.
Well read on and think again! Most, if not all companies in South Africa have steadfastly refused to accept that HIV/AIDS has made a mockery of their 1-5 year equity goals.
By the time those companies who bothered to set meaningful equity goals in the first have reached their 5-year targets, many of those affirmed may be too ill to be performing at their peak, many may have been reassigned to less stressful jobs, or been put on early retirement.
We have reprinted a Sunday Times article (May 19 2002) in the hope that this gesture will encourage our readership to sit up and begin to do the necessary actuarial research, and to formulate the required health and workforce-planning strategies required for sustainable growth for the long-haul.
"SA firms reveal shocking apathy about Aids"
The failure of the business community to face the reality of HIV/Aids is threatening the sustainability of the economy.
According to a survey released this week, most companies do not have a strategy in place to deal with the deadly virus.
The survey was commissioned by the SA Business Coalition On HIV/Aids (Sabcoha), paid for by Britain's Department for International Development and conducted by Deloitte & Touche.
Clem Sunter, a governor of Sabcoha, says the survey's stark results show that "not just the government but the private sector is going to have to get up to speed on the epidemic".
Sunter says he hopes the survey will give the private sector "a big wake-up call".
The most astonishing finding is that the majority of businesses don't seem to think that HIV/Aids will have more than a "moderate" impact on their employees or, by implication, their businesses.
Sunter says they're basing this judgement on "virtually no research at all".
Indeed, the survey shows little evidence of workplace monitoring or evaluation.
Few companies have done risk assessments or knowledge, attitude and practices studies.
As a result, say Deloitte & Touche in their analysis of the findings, "employers are implementing policies and strategies without a real understanding of the extent or precise location of their risks".
Rose Smart, a former director of the national Aids programme and a consultant on the survey project, says that insofar as prevention programmes exist at all they are "not as well-targeted or informed as they should be".
Smart says most of the few companies that have responded to the crisis are "shooting in the dark".
This laid-back attitude is reflected at boardroom level, where very few chief executives have thought the HIV/Aids pandemic important enough to take personal leadership of their company's response. "It is not seen as a strategic issue which should have a substantial fraction of the CEO’s time. It has not been elevated to that level," says Smart.
Sunter says that if companies in Britain and the US had the levels of HIV/Aids prevalence rates their SA counterparts are showing, "there would have been an enormous response".