Like many companies, Barno’s empowerment rating was negatively impacted following amendments to B-BBEE rating criteria. MD Herman Fourie talks us through Barno’s response as the company reclaimed the coveted position of a Level 1 B-BBEE contributor.

“Our rating is important to us, not only because of the commercial necessity but also because we firmly believe in the role of empowerment in building a better South Africa. Resetting our empowerment credentials was not an executive decision – we went back to our shareholders and staff and asked whether they felt BEE was important,” says Fourie.

Barno made 30% of shares available to staff – managers became proud owners and the “us and them” attitude so prevalent in manufacturing became a united “us”.

It was not that difficult to adapt to the changes required, with a number of initiatives converging to enhance empowerment. Barno made tough decisions regarding procurement, going to great lengths to buy from BEE suppliers. Enterprise development initiatives were extremely rewarding and Barno was delighted that small enterprises met Barno’s exacting standards. These suppliers enjoyed an opportunity to grow, which overall has the effect of narrowing the gap between rich and poor Reaching socio economic targets was relatively easy as there are so many worthy agencies with noble objectives, says Fourie.

What stands out about Barno achieving its Level 1 rating, is the fact that it was driven almost entirely by middle management. The excellent skills of consultant Fiona Paterson, combined with the drive and determination of Barno’s Lunga Mtambeka and Robert Avery, galvanised a typical team response from the Barno-bees in capturing a position that this company has become accustomed to, pole position on the grid.

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