2017 saw the celebration of 10 years for the codes of good practice. The first codes of good practice on broad-based black economic empowerment were gazetted for the first time in February 2007. It was the first time that the government’s transformation efforts were translated into a measurable balanced scorecard, that required corporate South Africa to achieve targets set forth within this framework. Over the 10-year period, we have seen further developments around the concept of the balanced scorecard, culminating with the amended codes which were gazetted in October 2013. The amended codes were largely a revision of the original codes of 2007, into a more refined and thorough approach to B-BBEE compliance. In the decade that we have seen a formal legislated approach to transformation (a decade that had two cycles of legislation in 2007 and 2013), we have seen a transition of thought from the government from a mere compliance and tick box exercise to a more holistic approach that requires business to address structural issues to achieve good compliance scores under the new amended codes. The 2007 codes were predominantly light touch, tactical approach which was highly susceptible to abuse.
The approach was transactional, and very much driven by spend and the drive to achieve a complaint status with as much ease as was possible. Meaningful and sustainable transformation was overshadowed by tactical compliance approach however, the 2013 legislation has changed the transformation landscape in a massive way – the new codes are too ‘expensive’ to attempt a tick box, light touch approach. The new codes require a comprehensive compliance approach that is driven by the overall business growth strategy. These new codes require an interrogation of the structural issues around empowerment and transformation and forces market practitioners and business leaders to look further than just compliance. However, such an interrogation by itself is not enough to adequately deal with the current inequalities unless supported by requisite psychological themes.
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