Empowering local people in emerging markets
In South Africa, where social and economic imbalances have existed for many decades, transformation is a constitutional, business and social imperative, and it is critical for the sustainability of a healthy society and business environment.
Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) is a national program launched by the South African government to support transformation in the workplace and provide opportunities for people from historically disadvantaged backgrounds. The objective of B-BBEE is to correct inequalities that were placed on the population historically through apartheid and stimulate participation of previously disadvantaged groups in the economy to lead to increased economic growth. Integrating sustainability and social transformation in a strategic and coherent manner will give rise to greater opportunities, efficiencies, and benefits for both the company and society.
ERM is committed to the principles of B-BBEE and participates in a range of activities that not only provide excellent work prospects to historically disadvantaged people, but also evolve the company's corporate culture. We have made a significant contribution towards the achievement of the objectives of the South African government's B-BBEE policies, and one of our strategic goals is to become one of South Africa's leading empowered companies that focuses specifically on providing sustainability services. The business unit has established a B-BBEE Trust for the benefit of its historically disadvantaged employees and other charitable purposes.
Following the ERM Board's decision to increase the ownership component through our B-BBEE Trust, coupled with our commitment to diversity, ERM Southern Africa is now 25 percent black-owned with 18 percent black female ownership. The B-BBEE Trust has three components namely:
- An annual bursary program that awards funding for students to pursue a post-graduate qualification, with staff acting as mentors to help these students develop their skills and future careers including at ERM;
- Scholarships that are awarded to children of our historically disadvantaged employees; and
- A share option scheme, which is allocated to some of our historically disadvantaged employees who will acquire an economic interest in the company, in order to retain and incentivize these employees.
Our recent B-BBEE rating audit held in April 2016, which was based on our FY16 performance, resulted in ERM being categorised as a Level Three Contributor (110 percent recognition level) – an excellent achievement for a global business such as ERM.