BEE at the heart of S&Tís corporate social responsibility
The purpose of a Corporate Social Responsibility Policy is to ensure that the business supports the sustainability of the social environment and the framework in which it operates. The policy should ensure that the business works for the overall benefit of society. A business needs to demonstrate core business strategies that are linked to internal management systems and key performance indicators aimed at promoting the social upliftment, development and poverty reduction of its staff and the communities in which it operates.
In the South African context, black economic empowerment (BEE) is
an important aspect of any such policy. The government defines BEE as
"an integrated and coherent socioeconomic process that directly
contributes to the economic transformation of South Africa and brings
about both significant increases in the number of black people that
manage, own and control the country's economy as well as significant
decreases in income inequalities." (Department of Trade and Industry,
The three components of broad-based BEE are:
- Direct empowerment - comprised of equity ownership and management of the business.
- Human resource development - comprised of employment equity and skills development.
Indirect empowerment - enables and encourages the business to
facilitate broad-based BEE in entities and within the communities with
which it interacts.
In terms of direct empowerment, S&T is defined as a black
empowered enterprise -one that is at least 25,1% owned by black persons
and where there is substantial management control by black people. We
are currently 40% black owned and managed, with 20% interest in the
company held by our black female CEO. Similarly, our employment and
staff development policies place significant emphasis on diversity,
employment equity, fair labour practices and the development of human
In the arena of indirect empowerment, S&T plays a crucial role
in creating market access for black entrepreneurs and individuals. In a
survey project, fieldwork is usually the largest single line item: we
believe it should not be a way to increase profits, but to spread
resources. This is achieved either through partnering with black-owned
fieldwork companies or using unemployed people as fieldworkers. This
creates short-term employment for unemployed people, providing
much-needed financial input; and we impart skills that may prove useful
to future attempts to find jobs.
An important aspect of indirect empowerment relates to corporate social
investment, which can be viewed as the business' external contribution
to social responsibility. This investment is based not only on sound
principles of management but in a desire to do what is right. Corporate
social investment, underpinned by a strong developmental approach, is
undertaken for the purpose of uplifting communities.
The principles underlying our investment include:
- Being a function that is driven by the business' mission.
- Funding projects that have a logical fit with the business.
- Professionally managed.
- Regularly evaluated and updated as required.
The allocation of resources to corporate social investment sets the
parameters in terms of what is achievable. The target (as per
government's proposals on broad-based black economic empowerment) is
that expenditure on social investment should be 3% of net profit. We
are proud to report that our current social investment projects for the
2006 Financial Year far exceed this target.
S&T's current social investment projects
We are currently providing technical assistance to the HIV/Aids
programme of St Peter's Anglican Church, based in Auckland Park. The
programme, based in the rural communities surrounding Matatiele in
KwaZulu-Natal, is a home-based care initiative run by a retired nurse
and her network of volunteer caregivers.
S&T has assisted St Peter's in drafting a business plan for
strengthening and expanding the current services offered by the
caregivers. The overall aim for the expanded programme is to provide
comprehensive home-based care for those individuals infected and
affected by HIV and Aids in the target area. To this end, the specific
objective is to provide ongoing sustainable support to the area via the
network of volunteer caregivers. This objective is to be attained
- Strengthening and building the capacity of the network to respond to the needs of the communities.
- Providing immediate relief and resources to the communities.
- Providing input and resources to assist the communities to help themselves.
S&T has committed itself to designing a monitoring and
evaluation system as well as training those individuals within the
programme who will have responsibility for particular monitoring
functions. We will also play the role of independent evaluator of the
programme at key moments as it unfolds.
S&T has been approached by Dr Lulu Gwagwa, former CEO of the
Independent Development Trust, to assist with her "plough-back" project
in Kromhoek, her home village in Umzimkulu. The project is aimed at
collecting comprehensive household data in the village of Kromhoek in
order to profile the level of need in the community and potential
S&T has been involved in the design of the instrument for data
collection. S&T will also assist in training a team of interviewers
who will be responsible for data collection in Kromhoek. Once data has
been collected, S&T will also assist in supervising the coding and
capturing of the data, as well as producing a brief report for Dr