The Black Management Forum (the BMF) welcomes the judgement on Mr Mark Lamberti, the Group CEO of Imperial Holdings Limited and a Board Member at Eskom SOC, which was delivered by Judge Pieter Meyer at the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday, 3 April 2018.
The BMF welcomes the ruling as it seeks to restore and protect the dignity of the plaintiff, Ms Adila Chowan, a highly qualified and experienced black female executive. The comments that are attributed by Mr Lamberti have absolutely no place in South Africa as they seek to drag our country backwards and are reminiscent of our brutal past. Race and gender discrimination in the workplace that is perpetuated by those in positions of authority should have no place in our business society.
Business plays a critical and significant role in our society. We cannot let the scourge of racial and gender discrimination be left unattended. The extreme masculinity that was shown by Mr Lamberti and his all-white executive team when Ms Chowan raised her discomfort at the comments made by him must be condemned in its strongest sense. This behaviour needs to stop. Power and influence must not be used to suppress career progression of qualified black female executives.
The violation and discrimination of women in corporate South Africa leaves a lot to be desired. The objectification of black women in the workplace cannot be addressed solely by policies but by a responsible company leadership attitude and corporate systems that see black women executives as equal players in business and the companies they work for.
The BMF calls on the Eskom board, in particular the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan to remove Mr Lamberti as a board member of Eskom. By extension, we also call on the board of Imperial Holdings Limited to remove Mr Lamberti as its Group CEO. It is inconceivable to have Mr Lamberti sit on any board or position of authority when he holds such discriminatory views against black women executives. Lastly, the BMF calls for the amendment of the Companies Act 71 of 2008, Section 69(8), ‘disqualification to be a director of a company’, to include all offenses under the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998, the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000.
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