Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA), spoke with AoS about how they continue to be committed to leading the way in driving inclusive economic and gender inclusion in South Africa by continuing to invest across their value chain, supporting and empowering their female employees. CCBSA strongly believes that true economic and societal transformation can only be achieved by empowering women in the workplace and economically. Their continued Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Level 1 B-BBEE status is reflective of the organisation’s intentionality and hard work in ensuring that its vision is lived out. Their commitment to real transformation and sustainable economic contribution to the country’s broader development agenda is strong.

The hard thing about leading the way as a change agent is that the work is not without its challenges. All the growth and richness come from the hard parts. That’s when institutions and organisations are fortified. And if we can be presumptuous enough to proclaim that we can all agree that the Pandemic sucker punched all of us economically – businesses all over the world were impacted. Through it all, CCBSA has remained resolute in their commitment to creating a diverse and equitable organisation. They understand that this type of change and transformation requires a militant commitment to change. 

The graph below indicates the length of time it took CCBSA to become B-BBEE level 1 compliant.  

One of the powerful things about operating in a transformational way is the overflow. CCBSA’s initiatives do not only benefit those that are employed by the organisation but also the greater community. CCBSA’s efforts have made a significant contribution to the country’s socio-economic development agenda to create an inclusive society that truly represents the demographic composition of South Africa.

One of those notable initiatives is the company’s Ikageng Employee Share Trust which was established in 2020. The Ikageng Employee Share Trust grants every employee equal shares regardless of employment level, race, or years of service. CCBS employees hold 15% shares and direct economic participation in the business and the total black ownership in the business is currently at 20%. 

CCBSA is also intentional about supporting its employees’ mental wellness. The organisation recently implemented an Employee Wellness Programme specifically designed to support all their staff members’ mental health journey by providing a collection of services such as counselling for them and their immediate family members. Health@Hand – is another service staffed by qualified nurses to give advice and support on any health or medical issues or concerns that may arise.

“Our efforts of empowering women are also reflected in our recent Management Control score which contributed to our overall Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) results. We maintained our status as a Level 1 contributor because amongst others, we place a strong emphasis on our commitment to empowering women across our organisation. Despite operating in the traditionally male-dominated manufacturing industry, our strategic transformation initiatives have seen an increase in black female representation in senior management from 89% representation last year to 94% this year. CCBSA has also increased their spend with black-owned suppliers from 50% to just over 61% of its total procurement spend, of which 34% is with black females. “  – Nozicelo Ngcobo, Public Affairs, Communication and Sustainability Director.

For CCBSA, empowering women means more than being regulatory compliant with the country’s laws. The organisation gave meaning to this important mandate of inclusion and diversity by developing and launching a special forum called Women@CCBSA with the sole purpose of providing a safe space for women within their organisation to engage with and support each other through the challenges that they face over and above just being women existing and leading in professional spaces. Regardless of what position one might hold we know that it’s important that we intentionally provide safe spaces and opportunities for women to engage. Through their robust transformation and inclusion agenda, the company has strengthened its women-led network called the Women@CCBSA programme, an initiative that provides fair women representation and support in leadership.

Hear more about this initiative on Olwethu’s conversation with the current Women@CCBSA Chairperson Matshiamo Lebese.