The related SANAS amendments share the ethical and professional conduct standards for B-BBEE Rating Agencies and their employees. It forms a basic guideline to manage the likelihood and prevention of risks such as conflict of interest from materialising. As such the impartiality of the verification agency is assured during the verification process.
SANAS is the accreditation body of B-BBEE Rating Agencies as part of its oversight role. The body must ensure that Rating Agencies assess, verify, and validate disclosed and undisclosed B-BBEE related information, on measured entities. The regulations imposed by SANAS, are detailed on R47-03 and must be referenced in the verification process to ensure that the B-BBEE certification process meets the required validity and accuracy standards.
As a rule, B-BBEE Rating Agencies must be able to demonstrate objectivity and impartiality in their decision making. The South African community at large demands that these values be adhered to.
The new R47-03 contains an amended definition of “Consulting Services”, which, includes Scenario Planning and Gap Analysis. B-BBEE Rating Agencies are not allowed to provide any consulting services to a Measured Entity for which they provide B-BBEE Verification Services. This ruling is in place to ensure that the risk of conflict of interest is totally eradicated and further guarantees impartiality. As a further deterrent for the risk of conflict of interest to occur, members of these agencies, may not be related to parties or any entities that are subjected to the verification process or any other related party, which may have a vested interest in the outcome of the B-BBEE verification.
Historically B-BBEE Consultants have worked closely with B-BBEE Rating Agencies. They primarily acted as a representative for the client during the B-BBEE Verification Process. However, since B-BBEE Consultants do not have the same regulatory requirements as a B-BBEE Rating Agency, this has been identified by SANAS as a risk of conflict of interest. SANAS constantly monitors B-BBEE Rating Agencies with consequences in place for non-conformance, which does not apply to a B-BBEE Consultant.
The B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice specifies the following in relation to the responsibilities of the Measured Entity: “it is the Measured Entity’s responsibility to understand their requirements for B-BBEE compliance and to ensure that their B-BBEE strategy is in line with the intention of the codes.”
Many Measured Entities have come accustomed to entrusting their B-BBEE Consultant to take the lead in their B-BBEE Verification process. The consultants by default assume the responsibility to address issues arising from the implementation of B-BBEE strategies. The amendments address and compel the Measured Entity to accept their innate responsibilities and take the lead during a B-BBEE Verification process. These organizations therefore must be direct and own communication with the B-BBEE Rating Agency as it is related to their business and the dynamics of the process. This does not prohibit the B-BBEE Consultant to receive copies or to be included in the verification process, but the core of the communications in terms of requests and deliverables must be between the B-BBEE Rating Agency and their client.
Amendments that organizations must take note of are:
- An organisation must contract the services of a B-BBEE Rating Agency directly; it may not happen through any third party.
- During a B-BBEE Verification, an organisation must liaise and interact directly with the B-BBEE Rating Agency.
- B-BBEE Rating Agencies must have a legally enforceable agreement with the Measured Entity and all payments for the
- B-BBEE Verification must be made directly from the Measured Entity to the B-BBEE Rating Agency.
- B-BBEE Rating Agencies may only provide B-BBEE verification services and may not provide consulting services. Rating agencies, including their employees, may not take part in the verification of a Measured entity for which they have provided consultation for a period of four years.
A clear definition of ‘Consultancy’, as it relates to this topic, refers to the provision of any service that assists an organisation in implementing a B-BBEE Strategy or any element of their scorecard. These services include the implementation thereof without limitation to Ownership, Management Control, Skills Development, Enterprise & Supplier Development, and Socio-Economic Development; otherwise, any element prescribed in terms of a Sector Code. In relation to the avoidance of conflicts of interest, any service of a consulting body or consultancy performed by any personnel of a B-BBEE Rating Agency that has provided a service to an organization, and the same organization is verified by a B-BBEE verification, would be considered a contravention of the requirements of stipulations contained within R47-03.
Examples of the services a ‘consultant’ can provide include but are not limited to:
- Coaching or facilitating the B-BBEE process on behalf of an organisation towards the development and implementation of activities leading to B-BBEE compliance;
- Preparing or producing manuals, handbooks or procedures;
- Participating in the decision-making process regarding the management system;
- Providing specific advice or scenarios for developing and implementing a management system in preparation for verification; and
- Conducting a Scenario Plan or a Gap Analysis.