The Dis-Chem board has responded to the backlash following a letter from Dis-Chem CEO Ivan Saltzman, which prohibits the appointment and promotion of white people.
In the internal memorandum, Saltzman put a moratorium on the appointment of white individuals, including external appointments and internal promotions.
He explained that when a white individual is appointed, they need several blacks to maintain the status quo.
“The achievement of set employment equity targets will be incorporated into management’s bonus structure, and the allocation will be issued in due course,” he said.
Saltzman’s letter was posted online by Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann and caused a backlash from business leaders and politicians.
There were also threats of a Dis-Chem boycott, which the company said it was taking very seriously.
Dis-Chem told Daily Investor it is concerned about the backlash, but it is too early to tell whether there will be a loss in sales.
Dis-Chem board responds
The Dis-Chem board has now entered the debate with a statement, provided in full below.
We regret the wording and tone of an internal memorandum that has been erroneously widely shared.
We acknowledge that it did not reflect our values. Its release did not follow our correct internal vetting processes, and steps have been put in place to ensure that, going forward, relevant checks and balances are thoroughly duly performed.
More importantly, we sincerely regret the offence and distress it caused to so many people, including our staff and millions of loyal customers.
We deeply value all our employees and appreciate their contribution to Dis-Chem. We stand by the unequivocal imperative to continue our transformation journey. Equality, diversity, and inclusivity are important throughout Dis-Chem, and we continue to make great strides in ensuring that we maintain progress in this area.
We have always been cognisant of the imperative to comply with all legislation, including employment equity, on our journey to meet transformation targets, and with a priority of employment on merit, based on our view of giving employment preference to previously disadvantaged communities. We apologise for the erroneous communication which caused offence to any South African community.
Dis-Chem is built on the premise of pharmacists who care, and this philosophy always has, and always will, underpin how we operate. Our pharmacy-first approach, the Dis-Chem Foundation, our increasing focus on providing affordable primary healthcare via our network of in-store clinics, and training and education outreach, illustrate our upliftment endeavours and positive results.
We are a proudly South African business, which promotes inclusivity and representation of all South Africans, in their capacity as key stakeholders.
The Dis-Chem board