Spectrum Valuation and Asset Solutions not only celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2019 since it underwent a merger in 2014, but has reached another significant milestone at the same time: the achievement of Level 1 B-BBEE status. The awarding of this status comes as a result of the company’s commitment to furthering transformation in South Africa, and its recognition that broad-based black economic empowerment is a cornerstone on which the economy of the country will thrive in future.
Eric Wright, CEO of Spectrum, tells Asset that gaining Level 1 status has taken a year’s hard work to achieve, and has required a significant investment of time and money – but that he has no doubt that it has been a worthwhile endeavour. “This is a confirmation of our commitment to our industry, our belief in our country and its future, and our role in making South Africa work,” he says.
He adds that there were several reasons that the company decided to make the additional efforts to reach Level 1. Firstly, he believes that for any business to thrive in South Africa, they need to embrace BEE. “We are committed to transformation and change in the industry. Spectrum has a transformed board, executive committee and management structure, and we also have a number of supplier development initiatives in place,” he explains. Secondly, the move supports clients of Spectrum’s who are similarly embracing BEE on their business journey, and who have committed to using Level 1 and Level 2 supplier companies wherever they can. “We support our clients in their commitment to this process, and this is part of our commitment to them,” he adds.
This starts to build in one’s mind the picture of the kind of sustainable economy that B-BBEE is, in its best form, intended to create. In selecting BEE partners and participants in the business, Eric is clear on the point that all the people involved are skilled and experienced, and that all deals were done legally and correctly. “We are aware that many BEE deals are seen as tokenism, or worse, fronting. We went to great lengths to avoid this – both in practical terms and in terms of how we are perceived,” he notes. He emphasises that the move is one that Spectrum has made because it believes it is the right thing to do – that it is the an essential route to sustainable business.
“Even though it was a difficult and demanding process, we want to make this commitment to our clients and to the industry, and to maintain this as part of our vision going forward,” he continues. In support of that, Spectrum’s entire company culture is informed of this direction. “Our value systems are all driven by BEE initiatives. In all our procurement we are aware of what the BEE levels of companies are, and how we can help benefit BEE overall by being a driver of the process,” he notes. It has become a way of thinking and working within the company, and informs just about all decisions.
He is pleased to note that in addition to working with BEE partners who are active and valued contributors in the business, that Spectrum has employed and trained many young black valuers. He sees this not just as having value for the company, but as an important role that Spectrum can play in the industry. “The shortage of skilled black valuers in the industry is one of its biggest challenges at present, so we pride ourselves on playing a role as a supplier of skilled people into the industry,” he points out. Although attracting and retaining key talent is always important for any employer, Eric feels that one has to take a broader view on it as well. “We understand that people will leave to pursue other opportunities, and we have taken the stance that we are not sensitive to that, as long as they move for the right reasons,” he says. Ultimately, if those skills are being taken into the industry and used to help train others, then the company has done well helping to develop the industry overall.
Having achieved Level 1 B-BBEE status, the journey doesn’t end. Not only will Spectrum have to make its regular submissions to the relevant authorities to ensure that it continues to meet the requirements for this status, but it will be important to maintain a BEE-focused culture and approach in all of the company’s activities. Eric believes that it’s worth the hard work. “Ultimately, we believe in the future of South Africa. We not only want to grow as a business – we want to contribute to our industry and the country, and play a meaningful role in that future,” he concludes.