July 03, 2018

White South African men predicted to dominate senior industry roles until 2038

White South African men predicted to dominate senior industry roles until 2038

White South African men will continue to dominate leadership roles in industry until at least 2038, despite representing a minority of the country’s professionally qualified workers, a new report has found.

The findings, presented in the latest annual report of the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE), suggest a slow ongoing erosion of the dominance of white South Africans in senior management roles.

If the trends recorded in 2017 continue, this will see black South African men overtake their white counterparts in 2038, with black women overtaking white women in 2050.

However, at the very top of industry, white men will continue to represent a majority of the most senior roles into the 2060s. Currently, this group occupies around 55% of such positions.

The CEE report covers 7.3 million South Africans working in the formal sector. At present, the number of black professionally qualified men and women is already higher than that of white men and women. White women are also predicted to overtake white men in terms of the number of professionals by around 2032.

Despite this, white men continue to receive a disproportionately high number of appointments and promotions. As such, the report highlights that the transformation of the South African workforce currently relies on the attrition of the senior white managers, with the labor market's compositional change largely due to the fact that white men are leaving the top tiers of the workforce at the highest rates.

Writing in IZA World of Labor, Ulf Rinne explores the potential of anonymous applications to help level the recruitment playing field, suggesting that these do help to remove the difference in callback rates of discriminated-against groups.

However, he also highlights that “Although this is in principle a desired outcome, the relative effect depends critically on the established practice in the recruitment process and, more specifically, on the extent of discrimination that may have affected a candidate’s prospects up to that point.”