Four CFOs share their approach to fostering diversity

These CFOs share their insights into changing their companies' BEE scores and culture.

Transformation and empowerment has become more than just a box to be ticked for South African companies and organisations. These ideals have become a passion for leadership and an integral part of organisational culture. 

Research has also shown that with a transformed company culture comes manifold advantages, like increased profitability and creativity, stronger governance and better problem-solving abilities. A Boston Consulting Group study, for example, has found that global companies with diverse management teams have 19 percent higher revenues thanks to their teams’ innovation. 

Andre du Plessis, Capitec CFO

For Capitec’s BEE transactions, Andre, who won the Compliance & Governance and Finance & Transformation Awards in 2019, is the go-to person as far as the bank’s black shareholders are concerned. Together with the head of risk and the company secretary, Andre drives improving the company’s BEE score. He also engages with students frequently and mentors young black people within Capitec and elsewhere.

In his personal capacity, Andre co-founded Community Keepers, an NGO, 10 years ago, which now works in 23 schools. “We employ 50 graduates: social workers, clinical psychologists and educational psychologists to deal with trauma as a result of issues like substance abuse, rape, neglect, etc,” he said. “Last year alone, black children received 16,500 individual therapy sessions through this initiative.”

Glenn Fullerton, Nampak CFO

Glenn likes building teams and allocating defined responsibilities to people he knows can deliver. “Nampak’s former CEO, Andre de Ruyter, requested me to take over the responsibility of addressing B-BBEE in the company.” They established a B-BBEE office, headed up by Earl Chetty, Nampak procurement sustainability and supplier development manager, and guided by Mary-Anne Bottyan, Nampak group financial manager, with the specific goal of significantly improving Nampak’s BBEE rating. Regular B-BBEE steering committee meetings were held with tasks allocated to key executives. 

“I was able to lead a team of executives from both the Nampak head office and the operations that successfully improved Nampak’s B-BBEE rating,” Glenn said. The company went from Level 6 to Level 2 in under a year, narrowly missing the achievement of a Level 1 rating by 0.6 of a point. “This was an extremely rewarding project with significant benefits delivered to Nampak.”

Hennie Nel, Santam CFO

Hennie believes it’s important to be involved in making sure that the company’s transformation and empowerment are measured in a way that impacts people. “We have added the achievement of transformation targets as one of the factors impacting the size of the bonus pool.” 

On a more personal level, Hennie believes driving this transformation and empowerment is around engagement, meeting with his direct reports every week or second week, one to one, to understand their views and provide clear guidance. It is also about interacting with the greater finance team and to understand their challenges. ‘Within my team, I drive the appointment of the right people hard, especially at the senior level. We’ve built up a great pool of talent, and we have to make sure we constantly empower them to grow.” 

Umar Banda, City of Tshwane CFO 

Umar (pictured) chairs the bid adjudication committee meetings that make a recommendation on which contract bidders should be appointed. As every bid comes in for adjudication before it’s awarded, Umar makes sure it responds to the company’s targets from a BEE point of view. He is also the head of supply chain and from a policy point of view and needs to make sure that the company’s policy is B-BBEE friendly.

All staff appointments that are made must comply with the company’s EE targets, from the shortlist to interviews to appointments, before he signs them off. “It’s a balancing act, when we do shortlist, to make sure that we’ve got the correct list of candidates to respond to what we need as a team, and in closing the EE gaps.”