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Black Economic Empowerment in the Cape Peninsula advertising industry: a multiple case study approach
Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) aims to enable Black people in South Africa (SA), as legislatively classified, to make a noteworthy contribution to the local economy by irreversibly altering the racial profile of ownership, management echelons and all employment levels of existing and new organisations. This ambitious strategy hopes to encourage economic transformation by eliminating unfair discrimination; applying affirmative action (AA) policies; empowering Black women and facilitating access to land, infrastructure, economic activities, ownership, as well as training and skills development (SA. DTI, 2004a:4-5). The transformation process in SA has been a lengthy and complex one, with the government slowly enacting enabling legislation. The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Codes of Good Practice was gazetted on 9 February 2007 and this significant piece of legislation has provided a framework to guide and measure transformation activities. The advertising industry has been criticised for its slow empowerment advancement, which led to two parliamentary hearings in the early 2000s to investigate allegations of racism and poor transformation progress. The Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA) gave full cooperation during the parliamentary hearings and has been a main driving force of transformation within the advertising industry. The ACA’s dedication resulted in the Marketing, Advertising and Communication (MAC) sector charter being gazetted on 29 August 2008 (Jones, 2008). There are few studies that have effectively investigated transformation and BEE progress within the South African advertising industry over recent years. Of these, none has yielded rich qualitative BEE data. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to explore progress made by advertising agencies towards transformation in the Cape Peninsula, as well as the challenges and benefits that result from implementing BEE measures in terms of BBBEE ownership and Employment Equity (EE). These elements have been thoroughly examined by utilising a multiple case study approach and by interviewing the top twelve traditional full-service advertising agencies through use of a semi-structured interview guide, which primarily generated in-depth qualitative data. Cape Town based advertising agencies readily provided a wealth of data, which illuminated numerous previously unexplored positive and negative BEE issues. Recent BEE internal advertising agency documents, literature, surveys and other research studies were used to corroborate and verify the findings in order to reach a consensus, compromise or disagreement in the subsequent discussion. The advertising industry has employed a multitude of innovative BEE strategies to facilitate transformation progress and to address a number of inherent problems. This has resulted in several success stories and numerous benefits as Cape Town based advertising agencies have embarked on their varied transformation journeys. The recommendations of this study would be useful to the national advertising industry, other sectors and government to assist in streamlining the transformation process in SA.
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