That the JSE has finally moved to make the disclosure of racial diversification at board and executive levels a listings requirement is to be commended. Companies and other stakeholders have until December 2 to provide their comments on this innovation to the JSE, before it is officially incorporated into the listings requirements.
This is belated recognition that, until now, our corporate sector has been far too slow to transform. Though this is only a disclosure requirement, rather than a strict rule mandating a minimum level of transformation, this move will, it is hoped, do much to spur boards to take greater cognisance of the need for a wider range of experience and outlook in the mainstream of business.
As it stands, 79% of the executives of the top companies on the JSE are white, and most are male.
This is not only unsustainable, but it also doesn’t do much for national reconciliation and social stability in a country where the "nonwhite" population is 91.1% of the population, while women constitute 51.3%.
It may be 129 years after the JSE first opened its doors, but any attempt to broaden economic participation is never too late. The real trick, however, will lie in whether the JSE will be able to ensure this doesn’t simply become another box-ticking exercise.