Words by Dr. Ivor Blumenthal
To a sceptic, BBBEE may appear to be trying to be everything to everyone. Not only does it attempt to level the playing field for Black, Indian, Coloured and naturalised Chinese people into South Africa, but also for women and people with disabilities. With such a wide variety of beneficiaries being accommodated, it’s easy to become distracted from the ultimate goal when, on the outside, it looks like BBBEE is trying to cover too many bases.
The truth is, each of these groups represent a historically disadvantaged target group for BBBEE. This is the system, and to reap the rewards from that system, we need to focus on each of these groups as legitimate beneficiaries. In this way, we can earn points and enhanced BBBEE recognition. It’s nothing more than systematic social engineering.
So let’s apply this social engineering specifically to the world of disability….
When it comes to that group in our society who are the Disabled, it’s forward-thinking and agile leadership if, as a CEO, you attempt to maximise your company’s benefit to be derived by including Suppliers who are disabled, within your company’s supply Chain.
Admittedly, it’s a more vested, hand-holding process, and requires more energy than would ordinarily be required in dealing with Suppliers who are not disabled, but the rewards are also commensurately more in terms of BBBEE recognition and bonus points to be gained in the process.
Dealing with Disabled inclusion in your supply chain, demands nothing more than strategically planning for the inclusion of people of colour from whom procurement will become preferential, desired and sought after, alongside your more traditional and historically favoured suppliers.
The fact that some of those suppliers, a small marginal number, may be disabled, is a consequence of clever and appropriate selection, beneficiation and contracting. It doesn’t have to preoccupy your procurement professionals to the extent that they stop focusing on core business.
Imagine a triangle: The largest concentration of effort your company can expend, will be recognised, firstly, in the development of new qualifying Black businesses entering the supply chain slipstream of your company in relation to your actual procurement needs, then to their progression as Suppliers, on contract, to your company, and finally, to the very real opportunities (for qualifying Black, seasoned Suppliers) to progress to being financed as Equity Partners in that Supply Chain. And eventually controlling shareholders within that formula.
BBBEE Good Practice does not require a company to sacrifice its existing Supplier Base for the unknown, but to engineer and manage the transformation of that Supplier Base slowly and within their control, so that business is not negatively impacted upon.
Importantly there are significant BBBEE Scorecard rewards built in for doing this at each step of the process.
Now imagine if you would the compounding benefit to your company of those Suppliers being Disabled and able to earn your company bonus BBBEE recognition for the extra lengths you are prepared to go to as a CEO to be a Disabled Friendly and Disabled Enabling organisation.
If the product or service meets the standard consistently then does it matter that a proportion of the people with whom you deal with to procure such services and products, happen to be classified as Disabled?
A good CEO should show foresight in doing the strategically proper thing when it comes to engaging with a proportion of Suppliers who are Disabled. A good CEO must consider the human interest and social benefit inherent in doing the right thing in this instance. The question must be asked: “If Business is not leading in creating a Procurement Chain of Disabled Suppliers and mainstreaming those Suppliers against the same principles and criteria which would be applied to the historical and existing majority of suppliers to their businesses, then what part of our civil society will take responsibility for the upliftment of the Disabled?”
What would a Framework for including people with disabilities into your supply chain look like in-terms of the latest BBBEE Codes of Good Practice published on the 31st of May 2019? These are explored in my next post, where I walk through the envisaged 3-staged process, and how to ease this process and maximise the inherent rewards.