Air Products South Africa fully supports the principles of BEE (Black Economic Empowerment), now in the form of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act 53 of 2003, and its amendments.
By driving B-BBEE, Air Products is enabling previously disadvantaged individuals (PDI) to participate in the South African economy. In turn, skills development, employment equity, preferential procurement, and socio-economic development create a platform for PDI’s to actively take part in the economy and in so doing significantly reduce poverty and produce greater economic equality for all South African citizens.
Air Products has had active programs to benefit the advancement of previously disadvantaged groups in our country, and to develop and support the communities in which we operate. With the advent of the Codes of Good Practice, published under the Act and initially gazetted in February 2007, Air Products formalised its programs to align with this policy.
The scoring system and targets were substantially restructured, with the revised Codes of Good Practice gazetted in 2013. In the first assessment under the new codes, Air Products, like many other firms, saw its rating drop from prior levels, in our case to a Level 8 in 2017. The company has progressed over the years and is currently a Level 4 contributor.
It is our intent to continue our journey to be a leader in developing people and in choosing to do business with companies that share our values in promoting the economic participation of previously disadvantaged groups. This highlights Air Products’ commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen and our willingness to join hands with other organisations in creating a thriving South African economy.
Since the introduction of the Employment Equity Act 55, Air Products has progressively addressed the Company’s commitment to transform its workforce. 63% of the Company’s executive management team comprises of black people, with 25% female representation at this level. In addition, approximately 77% of our employees are black people, with 19% being females and approximately 4% being people with disabilities.
Air Products believes that the key to its success lies in highly capable, empowered and motivated employees who, as stakeholders, help shape our company’s sustainable future. As we strive towards a high-performance culture, our key objectives are to value and build diversity and to empower all employees to reach their full potential through skills development initiatives.
While proud of the progress we have made, we are not complacent and continue to identify and develop the right talent to improve our black employee representation across the Company.
South Africa’s social development needs are vast, and Air Products South Africa has a vested interest in seeing the country grow and prosper. Our socio-economic development programmes leverage well-considered partnerships to stretch deep into the communities, thus ensuring that poor, underprivileged and historically-disadvantaged people receive the assistance they so desperately need.
Every year, a percentage of our Net Profit after Tax (NPAT) is spent on socio-economic development programmes, with the youth and education as the core focus area of our strategy. The funds are allocated to schools, clinics, non-government organisations (NGOs), non–profit organisations (NPOs) and rural development initiatives in the communities in which we operate. These projects are largely identified and supported by Air Products employees at our facilities nationally, and more often than not, directly involve employees in the actual implementation.
At Air Products, we support a number of corporate social investment (CSI) projects and they are all structured according to a specific framework. The allocations are done at various levels and for different periods of time. The donations are done in one of three ways:
- Firstly, annual allocations are made to each facility located across the country – the key CSI role players at each of the facilities identify projects to support with their funding.
- Secondly, there are national organisations with whom we have built a long-term relationship over the years who receive annual donations for various projects.
- Lastly, we a allocate percentage of the funds to large infrastructure development projects which are utilised to improve the facilities at schools.
The long-term beneficiaries supported by Air Products focuses on the youth and education across different disciplines, including technology, agriculture, and social services, to name a few.
Besides the categories mentioned above, Air Products launched a national ‘WitnessHappiness’ project which focuses on Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres in July 2016.
This project, which focuses on the youth and education, is strategically aligned to the company’s CSI strategy. A key objective of the project is to form long-term relationships with the educators and learners and to make a visible difference at the centres, as well as in the wider communities.
At Air Products, it is all about making a difference.