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Deloitte reaches critical milestone in its transformation journey

Deloitte South Africa has reached a critical milestone in its transformation journey when, in June this year, the firm achieved 51% Black representation at partnership level.

As far back as 1970s, Deloitte’s inclusive ethos saw the firm deliberately recruiting and developing Black accountants who could eventually become partners. In the 1970s Deloitte set up a school in Soweto to help prepare matriculants to study bookkeeping and accounting at university. 

This was after seeing a need to better understand and address the conditions under which Black accountants had to study, including challenges relating to transport, accommodation and the volatile political situation affecting them at the time.

Notable successes of the firm’s efforts include assisting two of the earliest Black African Chartered Accountants, Ignatius Sehoole, and Israel Skosana, in achieving their goals and obtaining the necessary qualifications and experience. They followed in the footsteps of Wiseman Nkuhlu, South Africa’s first Black African CA.

CEO of Deloitte Africa Ruwayda Redfearn says, the journey of transformation has not been without challenges. She says, “This milestone in our transformation journey is a major source of inspiration for us, while we do acknowledge that there is still far more work to be done. Being truly representative of South African society within Deloitte remains our goal. This is a crucial step towards achieving that in the long-term.” 

Redfearn says the milestone could not have been achieved without the solid foundations laid by former Board Chairs, Futhi Mtoba and Trevor Brown, as well as former CEOs who drove this process; the late Vassi Naidoo, who became Deloitte’s first Black partner in 1984, followed by Grant Gelink and Lwazi Bam.

A key milestone for Deloitte was the merger in 1990 between Deloitte Haskin & Sells with Pim Goldby, which had a 1000 staff each and Jeff van Rooyen’s firm which had four Black partners. Van Rooyen had set up the Association for the Advancement for Black Accountants of Southern Africa (ABASA) in 1985 which was (and still is) instrumental in advancing Black accountants.

In 1992, Deloitte set up the Multi-Cultural Development Programme (MCDP) run by Ann Newman, designed to develop a multi-cultural ethos within the firm. The programme was taken over by Vanessa Borchers and it succeeded in accelerating the development of Black accountants. 

Andrew Mackie, the former Managing Partner for Auditing & Assurance and Diane Schneider, who is currently a Senior Associate Director at Deloitte Africa, took over the reins of the MCDP. Together, they developed a strategy focused on equity and ownership, the depth and quality of Black and female leaders, the creation of a welcoming corporate culture, investment in Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) as well as investment in communities.

“Achieving this milestone has only been possible due to the commitment of the leaders who have come before me, and those that supported them. Looking forward, the challenge to continue with our transformation journey now rests with our leadership, and we remain resolute in seeing our transformation journey through. Deloitte strives to be a firm for everyone, a place where people can thrive, and I am excited about what the future holds,” concludes Redfearn.