30 November 2011

SAPS plans progress in racial employment equity but gender disparity remains

The South African Police Service (SAPS) released statistics to the South African History Archives in August of this year which relate to its planned progress in achieving racial and gender equality in terms of their human resources between 2009 and 2014.

The statistics breakdown the current and planned racial and gender composition of SAPS at different hierarchical levels: senior management, middle management, junior management, and production level. That breakdown is then compared to an ideal representation, which is based on the composition of the South African population estimates of 2006.

The racial employment equity progress planned at management levels between 2009 and 2014 is generally positive. The focus is mainly aimed at increasing the representation of people of African ethnicity in senior management and reducing the proportional representation of the white population. During this period, SAPS projects a slight reduction the percentage of Indian officials at this level, which will bring them slightly closer to the target number, and an increase in the proportion of coloured persons that will bring them beyond the number the document suggests as ideal.

At the production level of SAPS (i.e. non-management), the plan suggests that the currently under-represented African population will exceed the ideal level of representation by 2012 and will continue to increase beyond that level through to 2014. The Indian population, who is already at the ideal level of representation, according to the report, will see a reduction in the percentage of officers working at this level, though no explanation is provided as to why this is taking place.

The proportion of coloured officers will slightly reduce by 2014, but will remain just above the ideal level, while the fraction of white officers working in the production level, which is currently above the ideal level, will decrease significantly until 2014, when they will have approximately one third of the ideal number of officers.

Despite some significant progress being planned to achieve racial equity within SAPS in terms of the composition of the force, little change is projected that would improve gender disparity within SAPS' composition before 2014.

Although the report indicated that the proportion of women in senior management positions will increase from 22.26% to 29.06% by 2014, the steps taken in middle and junior management do not mirror this progress. In middle management the increased representation of females will increase by less than 1.5% over 5 years and by just 1.6% over 5 years in junior management.

At the production level within SAPS, a greater increase in the proportion of women will be observed (4.1%) over the same period, when compared to middle and junior management. However, the report indicates the ideal proportion of women working in these roles is 40% compared to 60% for men and does not provide an explanation for this discrepancy. Notably, the report considers that 50% of the personnel employed in management positions would ideally be women.

To view the employment equity strategy, click here.