According to the survey, accounting professionals dominated top positions of listed companies.
“We surveyed all the companies listed on the JSE, there were 4 035 directorships in all, of which 1 025 – 23.8 per cent– are held by Chartered Accountants South Africa [CAs (SA)].
"That’s almost a quarter of the total; the CA (SA) is the most predominant business qualification represented,” said CEO of SAICA Terence Nombembe.
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“When we look at CFOs or financial directors, CAs (SA) constitutes 74.3 per cent – and 21 per cent of CEOs or managing directors are CAs (SA). Almost two-thirds of the companies run by CAs(SA) are in fact in the Top 200, which to me implies that CAs(SA) are better than average at running companies.”
Nombembe told CNBC Africa that the country was doing well in skills retention while bemoaning the continued dominance of white males.
“South Africa is doing well in retaining accounting talent if compared to other global economies. This has been aided by SAICA's partnering with other accounting bodies from outside the country,” he said.
“There is broader disparity between white males and females in directorship but if you look at blacks that discrepancy is much narrower.”
He added that young black CAs (SA) were being appointed as directors below the age of 40 but called for more transformation.
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“75 per cent of directorships are still held by whites at present, and 87 per cent by males – so obviously a lot of work still has to be done on transformation.”
Nombembe said the changes seen in directorship were a result of Thuthuka Bursary Fund (TBF).
“We launched the Thuthuka Bursary Fund (TBF) in 2004 specifically to find disadvantaged African and Coloured learners with an aptitude for mathematics – we do tend to find more girls than boys – and support them on the path to studying a Bachelor of Commerce and qualifying as a CA (SA),” said Nombembe.
“We have realised that an urban university environment itself can be overwhelming for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. We have a system of mentoring and peer-support in place, so TBF students have this whole network to help them cope with the demands of university.”
The TBF is funded by donations from big business and government, with the later matching business donours rand for rand.
“Through the TBF, we now have hundreds of potential black CAs (SA) in the educational pipeline,” says Nombembe.
“If we analyse the racial split of directorships by age, we see that for directors under 40, white and black are almost at parity; whites predominate by barely a tenth of a per cent."