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Mariswe CEO Nonkululeko Sindane has praised her team for years of effort that have culminated in achieving Level 1 Contributor status in the B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice, but she concedes that staying there will be challenging.

Mariswe was certified at Level 1 by verification agency Renaissance SA Ratings in November 2017. Sindane says the entire submission process was completed internally. “We took a decision not to outsource as we felt that we would understand the processes better by doing it ourselves. So now we know what we need to do to maintain it.”

“Our team responsible for our B-BBEE efforts across the business is on top of its game. It’s not only about scorecard numbers, but about achieving positive results for the benefit of everyone in the company.”

Mariswe will be assessed against the new Amended Construction Sector Codes of Good Practice in November 2018. Sindane points out that these codes have areas that are onerous, but not insurmountable. “We are working on plans to address all the challenges and we are cautiously optimistic that we can retain our Level 1 status.”

Management Control
Sindane says a fundamental change in the Construction Sector Codes lies in Management Control, where the points previously available for employing technical employees in junior management positions have been removed.

“Mariswe will continue to employ young professionals at this level, but we will intensify the training and development needed to fast track their advancement in the company. Our young professionals will have to share the responsibility for their own progress and for our success as a company,” she emphasises.

The ongoing focus to employ, train and support women in technical roles has its difficulties as the whole industry is looking for the same people in a very small pool. “By devoting resources on the progression of women in engineering, we are upskilling the industry and that will ultimately benefit us all.”

The Construction Sector Codes require 50% of shareholders in Mariswe to be registered professionals. Sindane says having the right mix of technical employees from the ground up is critical. “A genuinely transformed company has a good degree of diversity in its ownership, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”

Socio-Economic Development
Showing the interconnectedness of the different scorecard elements, she points to Mariswe’s 100% Socio-Economic Development (SED) score, largely due to the company’s Nurture a Girl initiative to support teenage girls in their final years of school. “We are providing social support including mentorship and training. The programme includes girls with learning disabilities.”

“We are also reaching out broadly within the participating schools so that the contributions we make are not limited to identified girls but benefit the whole school.” In the past year Mariswe has provided water tanks in needy schools, improved media centres, upgraded security, assisted with counselling facilities, and partnered with other organisations to motivate learners.

“All the Nurture a Girl beneficiaries (73 at present and growing) are being exposed to working in various roles in a consulting engineering environment,” Sindane points out. “I think the results will show for the company and the consulting engineering sector down the line.”

Supplier Development
Mariswe has placed strong focus on Enterprise Development in the generic codes and is partnering successfully with several emerging enterprises. “We are comfortable with the shift in emphasis to Supplier Development in the Construction Sector Codes as our enterprise development partners are potential suppliers of goods and services to Mariswe,” she says.

“They have competencies that complement ours and will add value when we tender for new work together.”

“Mariswe’s procurement journey has been a long one requiring mindset changes,” she adds. “But today we have a genuinely transformed procurement process and we continue to improve on it for even better results.”

Sindane points out that solid frameworks are in place for the development of employee skills internally and supplier skills externally. “It’s now about using these programmes to produce the required outcomes.”