The B-BBEE services industry is on the precipice of a once-off opportunity to change the way B-BBBEE is viewed and implemented across South Africa. We need to stand up, take charge and change the way we add value to our stakeholders.
This is the key outcome of a B-BBEE expert panel discussion hosted by Mpowered on Wednesday 5th May. The topic of conversation was the impact of the lockdown on the B-BBEE services industry and what we need to do to future-proof ourselves. The panellists included owners and executives from some of the country’s leading B-BBEE consulting and verification companies.
Slowdowns in verification activity highlight the need to digitalise
Verification agencies have found a slowdown in verification activity, particularly across larger businesses, whilst the small and medium business sector has continued towards certificate verification. A key inhibitor to progressing with scorecard verifications is the inability to access paper-based evidence from the office environment, something that would not have been cause for concern had the client embraced digitalisation.
There is a clear message here: the industry has to digitalise, and SANAS has given us the much-needed push towards digitalisation. We are also confident the industry will continue to collaborate towards developing and implementing positive change in the way we operate and deliver value to our stakeholders.
The panel agreed that now is the time to come together and collaborate with intent on figuring out how we react for the better of our industry, for our clients and hence for South Africa.
We have to help companies reduce their total cost of B-BEE compliance, and with the forced adoption of digital solutions, turnaround times have decreased, processes are simpler and general process efficiency is improving. A reduction in the total cost of B-BBEE compliance for companies will be welcomed and become increasingly important as our clients face budgetary constraints.
But what about the socio-economic impact in trying economic times? A common theme emerging in discussions on the future of South Africa is how the lockdown has delivered a stark reality check; the scale of inequality and how pervasive it is, and that it is worsening as the economy sinks into new lows week after week. The government alone cannot resolve inequality. It was suggested that the overall theme for B-BBEE implementation during and post lock down will be to reduce the inequality gap.
Ideas were proposed on how to counter ED and SD “schemes” that really don’t benefit anyone, other than the company wanting to maximise their ESD scorecard with least effort and cost. Now is the time for the industry to be changing our narrative with clients, from scorecard optimisation to impact. It is everyone’s responsibility to help kick-start and establish a sustainable, growth economy and B-BBEE offers one of several mechanisms to deliver on these objectives.
In summary, it was agreed that now is the most opportune time for the B-BBEE services industry to start collaborating and working together towards a common goal: reverse South Africa’s worsening inequality gap that we all know is untenable and unsustainable.
The results of our online polls suggest an overwhelming need to continue these discussions as an industry. The majority of attendees agree that Beagle, the digital scorecard-sharing platform, can become an industry platform used to jump-start better collaboration, knowledge sharing and to deliver thought leadership and best practice within our industry.
We at Mpowered are committed to continuing this video-panel discussion series and to enhance Beagle as a platform for industry collaboration.
Author – Bruce Rowe, 25 May 2020