Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Pretoria: Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, this week met with the Chief Executive Officer and representatives of the Clicks Group.

This was to engage on the group’s transformation agenda in response to a racially offensive advert placed on its website on 4 September 2020.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Clicks Group, the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, as well as Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (as custodian of government’s efforts on social cohesion and nation building).

In her opening remarks, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane expressed her shock and disappointment at the deeply offensive advert that portrayed black women’s hair as inferior to that of white women’s hair by using and labelling images of various types of hair along racial lines.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane went on to add that while the advert irresponsibly reinforced racist tropes of the inferiority of ‘black beauty,’ it also has a damaging impact on black women who must continue to struggle for their humanity on a daily basis due to multiple layers of structural racism and sexism that still exists in the country.

Clicks Group CEO Vikesh Ramsunder, took the opportunity to appreciate the engagement with government and stakeholders to improve on its commitments and to be held to higher levels of professionalism as a responsible retailer in South Africa.

“This incident has allowed me as the head of the organisation to look deeper within the organisation to see what else can be accelerated, or what else can be done,” Ramsunder said.

The focus of the meeting was Clicks Group’s appetite for the socio-economic empowerment of women, youth and persons with disabilities.

“My responsibility is to monitor the implementation of all laws of this country that seeks to redress the imbalances of the past for these sectors and ensure that the public and private sectors complies in order for us a nation to reach that generation equality goal of 50-50 by 2030,” the Minister said.

Group Human Resources Director for Clicks Group, Bertina Engelbrecht, made a presentation on how the organisation was working towards transforming its workforce, improving on training, its work on gender-based violence, responding to sexual harassment in the workplace and the group’s commitment to the public health agenda.

In her closing remarks, Director General for The Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Advocate Mikateko Joyce Maluleke, proposed a follow up meeting to look at opportunities for partnership to ensure women, youth and persons with disabilities form part of Clicks Group’s transformation agenda.