May 19, 2020

Top 10 Employers in South Africa, 2015

Skills Junction
5 min
Top 10 Employers in South Africa, 2015

In the first instalment of a two-part series which will be concluded tomorrow with a broader look at the top employers across the entire continent, we begin today with a look at the leading protagonists in Africa’s largest economy.

The Top Employers South Africa 2015 even brought together 700 business executives at Gallagher Estate with global organisations from more than 25 countries in Africa in attendance to find out which companies are providing the highest standard of conditions for their employees going as we edge towards the end of 2014.

= 10. Sasol

Energy and chemical company, Sasol is one of only a few indigenously South African businesses in the top 10 having been established in Sasolburg in 1950.

Now consisting of 34,000 seemingly satisfied employees across 37 countries, Sasol also boasted the accolade of the leading petrochemical company in South Africa.

= 10. Clicks Group Limited

Tying for 10th place with Sasol is health and beauty chain, Clicks, a company which also stems from South African roots since its inception in Cape Town in 1968.

Now present in most urbanised areas of the country, Clicks has more than 600 stores across the SADC region and is the market leader in the retail pharmacy sector with 330 in-store dispensaries.

9. Kimberly-Clark of South Africa

The first of the internationally renowned companies on the list is Kimberly-Clark whose household brands including the likes of Kleenex are as popular in South Africa as they are in its native US and indeed the rest of the world.

One of the organisation’s leading visions to develop and train its own employees over a long term period in order to achieve sustainable success has clearly infiltrated its South African operations as the organisation continues to expand.

8. Coca-Cola South Africa

South Africa is Coca-Cola’s largest market in Africa making it all the more important for the globally renowned beverage manufacturer to build a reputation for social responsibility.

The company was first introduced to the country in the 1930s and has developed exponentially over the years to now comprise 15 facilities and more than 9,000 satisfied employees.

7. Tata Consultancy Services

Established only seven years ago in 2007, Tata Consultancy Service South Africa has quickly built up a strong reputation for its approach to employment, applying the same philosophies that the wider organisation had installed in India to its geographical expansion drive.

The company’s success derives largely from empowerment progress in areas of enterprise control, refined management strategies and human resource development combined with employment equity.

6. SAP Africa

SAP Africa can celebrate a recent $500 million investment in African expansion with the inclusion on this countdown; the top 10 status indicative of the innovation drive that will be occurring via the expenditure.

The global IT heavyweight has also announced a seven-year plan to upskill local African talent to promote overall skills growth on the continent.

5. Microsoft

Arguably the most recognisable name on the list, Microsoft South Africa is a subsidiary of the world’s largest independent software and services provider and has, for some time now, earmarked the region as one of its most sustainable and high performing areas.

Subsequently, on top of this latest accolade, the company has received the Best Customer Focus award at the 2011 African Business Awards, as well as being named CRF Best Employer for 2011 and 2012, and Deloitte Best Company to Work For in 2010.

4. Old Mutual

One of the proudest companies on the list must be Old Mutual who has been one of the most synonymous companies associated with South African business since its inception in the country in 1845.

Now boasting more than 16 million customers and hosting 57,000 employees, it is the largest financial services company in the SADC region and pays a lot of its attention towards employee care and CSR strategies.

3. EY South Africa

For the ninth consecutive year, Ernst & Young South Africa has been recognised as one of South Africa’s top ten employers, emphasising the global organisation’s ongoing commitment to its people.

Ajen Sita, CEO for EY Africa commented on the award: “We are committed to developing the most distinctive professional services brand in Africa. The Top Employers certification allows us to benchmark ourselves against the best in the industry. Our consistent positioning at the top of the awards programme is a clear message to our people and the market that we are truly committed to building a better working world for our people, clients and communities.”

2. Accenture SA

As one of the world’s leading management consulting, technology, and outsourcing services providers, Accenture has an influence in more than 200 cities, across 56 countries and employing upwards of 300,000 people.

The grandeur certainly hasn’t affected the company’s acknowledgement of individual development however, with The Top Employers Institute recognising the organisation for its “exceptional employee conditions” and its ability to optimise its employment practices in order to nurture and develop talent throughout all levels.

1. Unilever South Africa

Traced back to 1887 when the Sunlight Trademark was first registered in South Africa by William Lever, Unilever South Africa has long mastered the balance of striving for global prosperity while remaining committed to the local trends and requirements in each of its operating countries along its expansion journey.

As a subsidiary of Unilever PLC, one of the largest consumer goods companies in the region, the business houses more than 3,000 employees across its two offices and five manufacturing locations in South Africa.

Consistently recognised for adapting to trends and being proactive in its continuous development, the company has made huge investments over the years in creating optimum working conditions for its employees, complemented by a staunch set of HR policies and practices; all of which encourages potential employees to stay in South Africa amid temptation to move overseas to seek work. 

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Jun 27, 2021

Billionaire Kumar Birla Champions Regional Supply Chains

Elise Leise
3 min
As multinationals try to recover from the pandemic, Kumar Birla has a solution—narrow your scope and invest in reliable, regional suppliers

As the head of the Aditya Birla Group, a US$46bn firm that operates in 36 countries, Kumar Mangalam Birla is no stranger to splashy strategic moves. Yet his recent announcement that he no longer wants to acquire globally distributed supply chains stood out. While many companies have struggled to cope with shipping backlogs, his firm has chosen to pivot and focus on regional networks. Said Birla: ‘We wouldn’t look at a company or a business where you source in one corner of the world and sell in another’. 


He cited protectionism, the pandemic, and the limited movement of products and people around the world as ABG’s primary causes of lost profits. And they aren’t alone. Over the past year, 900 of the U.S. and Europe’s biggest IT, defence, and financial services firms have lost an average of US$184mn apiece

An Era of Global Disruption

Over the past few decades, low shipping rates and rapid delivery times have lulled multinational firms into a false sense of security. In the early 2000s, companies chose to take on significant global supply chain risks in exchange for increased profits. First, it made sense to manufacture higher-value goods, such as electronics, in low-cost regions throughout Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. Second, first-tier suppliers started to outsource the manufacturing of specific components to second-, third-, and even fourth-tiers—leaving supply chains with extremely limited visibility. 


So when COVID-19 disruptions struck certain regions, companies were caught unprepared. Usually, these events come few and far between. But over the past ten years, we’ve seen a number of ‘black swan’ events that have thrown the supply chain industry into chaos. Here’s a quick history of the most significant events in recent years, thanks to the MIT Sloan Management Review


  • 2010. China creates export quotas for rare earth elements. 
  • 2011. The Tōhoku Earthquake hits East Japan; flooding sweeps throughout Thailand. 
  • 2016-present. Trade wars between the U.S. and China hurt suppliers. 
  • 2020-present. COVID-19 pandemic shuts down international shipping ports.


Now, Kumar Birla is one of many who want to re-evaluate how we run our supply chains. Though his company has acquired 40+ companies in the last quarter decade, Birla intends to build up local hubs rather than expand operations. 


Why Pursue Regionalisation? 

Combine Chinese economic dominance, global supply chain vulnerabilities, and major government policy shifts around the world, and you have a storm brewing on the horizon for big multinational firms. As Brookings noted, ‘the biggest risk for trading opportunities in the developing world is growing protectionism in more advanced economies, often dressed up as national security protection’. 


Altogether, from the U.S. to the European Union, governments are trying to protect their domestic supply chains, secure adequate stockpiles of materials, and build world-class local networks. Consider Biden’s recent executive order, which seeks to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to home soil, or Japan’s bid to open more memory chip fabrication factories near Tokyo. The Aditya Birla Group intends to react in kind. Said Birla: ‘We’re looking at regionalism as a very big theme’. 

Will Others Follow Suit? 

In the post-pandemic economy, global businesses must decide whether to expand or contract. On one hand, the Alibaba Group’s Cainiao Smart Logistics Network recently launched a direct flight between Hong Kong, China, and Lagos, Nigeria. On the other, the Japanese government is desperate to make its chip manufacturing domestic. Indeed, as two supply chain strategies diverge in a post-pandemic world, the one businesses take may make all the difference. 


Yet Birla is confident that regionalisation is the right call. According to his words at the Qatar Economic Forum, even necessary cross-border transactions should be smaller in scope. And as the Bloomberg Billionaires Index now lists his net wealth at US$10.4bn, up 52% from 2020, he may have the cash to test his theories out. ‘Regional hubs, regional presence, regional employment, catering to regional demand’, he stated. ‘We’re a global company rooted in local economics’. 


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