Employee Diversity in a South African Context

Principles of Management IIAAssignment:Employee Diversity in a South African Context03 May 2011Student Name: MC MabheleStudent Number: 0218076WWord Count : ?Table of Contents1. Introduction 32. What is Workplace Diversity 43. Managerial roles that are necessary to effectively manage diversity 54. Benefits of Diversity Management 75. The role of ethical management within the realm of diversity 86.

Innovative ideas to manage diversity 97. Conclusion 158. References 16 ?1. IntroductionIn the South African context, workplace diversity is synonymous with multiculturalism, affirmative action and equal employment opportunity. Although these concepts are now being articulated by government, business and trade unions alike, for many years they were the sole preserve of those organizations subscribing to the various codes of conduct (such as the Sullivan Principles) as well as enlightened employers resisting apartheid oppression.

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Thus, although the debate about these concepts is just beginning in earnest, academic research and practical experience was gained during the time of the apartheid regime which, in turn, is informing the implementation of affirmative action and managing diversity programmes in a new era.This experience is made all the more important by the fact that affirmative action and the management of diversity in South Africa do not constitute tools to facilitate the entry of minorities into the mainstream of organizational life. In South Africa, for many years, the majority of the population has been denied access to education, jobs and opportunities through a process of rigorous discrimination. Some observers argue that black and female advancement and empowerment will now take place naturally and that an inexorable drift towards equality of opportunity is inevitable. Given both the experience of other African countries, such as Zimbabwe and Namibia, as well as statistics relating to social mobility from other countries of the world; Heath (1981)), this scenario is highly unlikely. It is, nevertheless, crucial to the stability of the country that a committed effort towards non-racialism, non-sexism and increased democracy and participation is made and is seen, by the majority population, to be made. The expectations the majority of South Africas population have of the ANC government are such that the effective management of diversity and the redistribution of power, wealth and opportunity have to take place.

South Africa, unlike some other countries of the world, has no choice but to manage workforce diversity and to manage it effectively; the future prosperity and stability of the country, and possibly the region, depend on it.Many organizations, to this day, look for quick fix solutions to their management of diversity challenge; such solutions frequently take the form of workshops or interventions which are not incorporated into overall strategic and human resource management processes (Human, 1993). Other organizations are playing the numbers game and are underestimating the extent to which effective affirmative action requires fundamental changes to organizational culture and the way in which people are managed (Human, 1991). Still others, like some authors and practitioners in other countries (for example, Thomas (1990)), confuse concepts such as affirmative action and managing diversity and appear to believe that the latter can be undertaken to the exclusion of the former.This essay represents the results of research in workplace diversity, with a particular emphasis on South Africa.

Towards the advent of the new dispensation, South Africa had started a shift towards addressing the issue of workplace diversity. This was predominantly influenced by skill shortages due to years of isolation and politics. In the wake of democracy, much more vigorous changes swept the country, as the new government wanted to redress past political imbalances.2. What is Workplace DiversityWorkplace diversity can be interpreted to include dimensions which influence the identities and perspectives that people bring to the workplace. Diversity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background, disabilities and many more. Diversity Management refers to ???all activities in an organisation aimed at dealing with, and making optimal use of, the diversity in its labour force??? ([email protected]

net, 2008). For a wide assortment of employees to function effectively as an organization, human resource professionals need to deal effectively with issues such as communication, adaptability, and change. Diversity Management is a comprehensive managerial process for developing an environment that works for all employees.

It encourages managers to enable, empower, and influence employees to reach their full potential and hopefully improve the organisation??™s bottom line. It also ensures that organizational systems, policies, and practices do not benefit one group more than another. The idea of inclusiveness is central to Diversity Management and it addresses workplace behaviours and understanding differences while focusing on an organizations culture and climate. Diversity Management is a process that needs commitment from top management and throughout the entire organization.

As a concept, diversity is considered to be inclusive of everyone. In many ways, diversity initiatives complement non-discrimination compliance programs by creating the workplace environment and organizational culture for making differences work. Diversity is about learning from others who are not the same, about dignity and respect for all, and about creating workplace environments and practices that encourage learning from others and capture the advantage of diverse perspectives.3.

Managerial roles that are necessary to effectively manage diversityThe importance of managerial role rests on the assumption that the creation and maintenance of standards (whether in terms of quality or output, etc.) relies in large measure on well-trained staff who are responsible for the development of those who report to them. Development should not be perceived, however, in racial or gender terms. Development is rather characterized by: ??? the determination of individual development needs; ??? the drawing up of individual development plans based on the competences required for effective job performance and on the overall workforce plan; ??? the attendance of relevant off-the-job training and development courses which meet individual training needs; ??? line managers playing a key role in on-the-job coaching and the development of staff. This process applies equally to all staff, irrespective of race, gender or level.”Organizational culture” refers to the importance that is attached to the development of people and the norms, values and beliefs that reinforce or discourage people development in general and the advancement of the historically disadvantaged in particular. An organizational culture that supports people development is characterized by the following: ??? positive expectation of individuals and their competence; ??? open, honest and constructive feedbacks on performance; ??? evaluation of performance based on results achieved in terms of short and long term objectives; ??? no discrimination based on race, gender or disability; ??? the development of people is a key result area for managers and performance in this area is measured and rewarded/sanctioned in a meaningful way; ??? managers understand the process of development and their roles in this process; ??? managers have the necessary skills to perform the role effectively; ??? on-the-job coaching is an effective and primary means of people development.

The role of the human resources function is to support line management ownership of the people development process by providing, inter alia, appropriate systems and advice to line management. This does not mean that the role of human resources is a passive one; the function should be proactive in identifying and diagnosing problems, proposing solutions and influencing line managers in the strategic direction that the organization has chosen. This implies that the human resources function needs to be staffed with people who: ??? are positively and actively committed to the development and advancement of all people, particularly disadvantaged groups; ??? have a high degree of credibility among the managers and staff, for whom they provide a service; ??? can provide practical and realistic solutions to problems and issues raised by their clients, without sacrificing professional excellence; ??? operate from an integrated perspective of all aspects of the human resources function, although they may be expert in one particular area (Human, 1993). Affirmative action strategies, moreover, vary from organization to organization and are based on an audit of the organization in terms of workforce composition, policies and procedures (see for example, Ontario Womens Directorate (1991)) and the perceptions of all levels of employees of the organizations performance in relation to the critical success factors (Human, 1993).Experience suggests that affirmative action strategies should be developed in consultation with trade unions and non-unionized employees and should be regularly monitored and evaluated.

In a country such as South Africa, affirmative action involves not only the recruitment, development, promotion and retention of qualified individuals from historically disadvantaged groups; it also involves the development of those with the potential to become qualified either within the organizational setting or through educational and community projects (Human, 1993).In the discussion thus far, a distinction has been drawn between affirmative action (the process) and employment equity (the result). It is accepted that this distinction may not be so clearly drawn in other countries (such as Canada) where the terms affirmative action (so defined) and employment equity would appear to be synonymous (Ontario Womens Directorate, 1991).To take an example: affirmative action in South Africa is part of the process of managing the countrys diversity. However, at the same time, and as part of an organizations affirmative action strategy, employees in general, and line managers in particular, are required to be competent in managing diversity.

This paradox is probably a fact of life in most countries of the world; managing diversity at one level incorporates affirmative action and yet, at the particular level, is one of the competences required for the effective implementation of affirmative action programmes.Understood as a competence required by employees in general, and line managers in particular, managing diversity is crucial for the effective management and development of people. A line manager who is prejudiced against people from a specific racial group, for example, is unlikely to manage those people effectively and to recognize and encourage their particular strengths and talents. Managing diversity, at this level, thus concerns the management of people irrespective of race, gender, ethnic background, religion, disability, sexual orientation and so on. Many so-called managing diversity programmes not only confuse the relationship between managing diversity and affirmative action and employment equity, but also confuse managing diversity with managing culture. It is counterproductive to equate managing diversity with managing culture for a number of reasons. First, the conceptualizations of culture provided in such programmes tend to be unduly fixed and inflexible. Second, national or ethnic culture tends to be stressed at the expense of other social variables.

Third, such programmes often understate the importance of the relationship between perceptions of culture and power and how this relationship impacts performance through the transmission of expectancy communications. Finally, an understanding of this relationship is rarely translated into a need for individuals to look at their own articulation with these concepts and at the need for change from within (Human, 1994).4. Benefits of Diversity ManagementThe two most common benefits of effective Diversity Management are improving an organisation??™s bottom line and enhancing the work environment.

It may improve the bottom line for a number of reasons. By keeping focused on hiring from a diverse broad range of candidates an organisation would have greater access to a larger number of qualified staff. It could also help to reduce turnover costs by ensuring previously disadvantaged employees (PDE) and the entire staff members are more comfortable in their work environment and less likely to leave. Another benefit would be the opportunities of having a PDE involved in management to give sort of a window into issues affecting PDEs.

This may allow an organisation to ???get a leg up on the competition. Because of changing demographics and fierce competition in the job market, a growing number of organisations are starting to regard minority executives as an under-used and under-tapped resource??? . A diverse workforce can give companies insight on how to operate in different cultures (for globalization initiatives), enhance creativity and innovation, and can foster the development of new products, services and marketing strategies. Yet another profit-oriented benefit is that organisation??™s mirroring their market??™s diversity in their staff can increase its customer base and appeal. A more diverse workforce can better serve an increasingly diverse customer base. All of these profit-oriented benefits are excellent motivators for management to start Diversity Management initiatives.

Improving the work environment and culture in an organization is another benefit of effective Diversity Management. Effective diversity programs can improve the quality of the work environment and increase the job satisfaction and performance of both minority and nonminority personnel. Diversity programs that contribute to overall fairness can also improve the work environment and help companies better use their employees. Multicultural organisations are the most flexible firms??”actively integrating minorities into the organisation structure and building an appreciation among employees for individual differences. These types of firms tend to consider diversity in an inclusive manner that encourages unity. Unity amongst the workforce promotes an inclusive corporate culture, which is an attractive quality in the job-seekers of today. 5.

The role of ethical management within the realm of diversity6. Innovative ideas to manage diversityAt the core of any organisation should be a willingness to embrace diversity in order to achieve its organisational objectives. Herewith some ideas that can assist organisations manage diversity better:7.

1. Organisational Motivation as a foundation. A lot of executives are not sure why they should want to learn to manage diversity. Legal compliance seems like a good reason. So does community relations. Many executives believe they have a social and moral responsibility to employ PDIs and women. Others want to placate an internal group or pacify an outside organization. None of these are bad reasons, but none of them are business reasons, and given the nature and scope of today??™s competitive challenges, only business reasons will supply the necessary long-term motivation.

In business terms, a diverse work force is not something your organisation ought to have; it??™s something your organisation does have, or soon will have. 7.2. Clarify Organisational Vision. When managers think about a diverse work force, what do they picture Not publicly, but in the privacy of their minds One popular image is of PDIs and women clustering on a relatively low plateau, with a few of them trickling up as they become assimilated into the prevailing culture. Of course, they enjoy good salaries and benefits, and most of them accept their status, appreciate the fact that they are doing better than they could do somewhere else, and are proud of the achievements of their race or sex.

??? Then there is the coexistence-compromise image. In the interests of corporate viability, white males agree to recognize PDIs and women as equals. They bargain and negotiate their differences. But the win-lose aspect of the relationship preserves tensions, and the compromises reached are not always to the organisation??™s competitive advantage.??? ???Diversity and equal opportunity??? is a big step up. It presupposes that the white male culture has given way to one that respects difference and individuality. The problem is that PDIs and women will accept it readily as their operating image, but many white males, consciously or unconsciously, are likely to cling to a vision that leaves them in the driver??™s seat.

A vision gap of this kind can be a difficulty.??? The vision to hold in your own imagination and to try to communicate to all your managers and employees is an image of fully tapping the human resource potential of every member of the work force. This vision sidesteps the question of equality, ignores the tensions of coexistence, plays down the uncomfortable realities of difference, and focuses instead on individual enablement. It doesn??™t say, ???Let us give them a chance.??? It assumes a diverse work force that includes us and them. It says, ???Let??™s create an environment where everyone will do their best work.???7.3.

Expand Organisational Focus. Managers usually see affirmative action and equal employment opportunity as centering on PDIs and women, with very little to offer white males. The diversity objective should not be to assimilate PDIs and women into dominant white male culture but to create a dominant heterogeneous culture.??? That culture should enable the employees to achieve their fullest potential. Channeling that potential, once achieved, is an individual right but still a national concern. Something similar applies in the workplace, where the keys to success are individual ability and a corporate destination.

Managing disparate talents to achieve common goals is what organisations learned to do when they set their sights on, say, Total Quality. The secrets of managing diversity are much the same.7.4. Audit Corporate Culture.

If the goal not to assimilate diversity into the dominant culture but rather to build a culture that can digest unassimilated diversity, then you had better start by figuring out what your present culture looks like. Since what we??™re talking about here is the body of unspoken and unexamined assumptions, values, and mythologies that make your world go round, this kind of cultural audit is impossible to conduct without outside help. It??™s a research activity, done mostly with in-depth interviews and a lot of listening at the water cooler.??? The operative corporate assumptions you have to identify and deal with are often inherited from the organisation??™s founder. ???If we treat everyone as a member of the family, we will be successful??? is not uncommon. Nor is its corollary ???Father Knows Best.?????? Another widespread assumption, is that ???cream will rise to the top.??? In most organisations, what passes for cream rising to the top is actually cream being pulled or pushed to the top by an informal system of mentoring and sponsorship.

??? Corporate culture is a kind of tree. Its roots are assumptions about the organisation and about the world. Its branches, leaves, and seeds are behaviour. You can??™t change the leaves without changing the roots, and you can??™t grow peaches on an oak. Or rather, with the proper grafting, you can grow peaches an oak, but they come out an awful lot like acorns??”small and hard and not much fun to eat. So if you want to grow peaches, you have to make sure the tree??™s roots are peach friendly.7.5.

Modify Assumptions. The real problem with this corporate culture tree is that every time you go to make changes in the roots, you run into terrible opposition. Every culture, including corporate culture, has root guards that turn out in force every time you threaten a basic assumption.

??? Take the family assumption as an example. Viewing the corporation as a family suggests not only that father knows best; it also suggests that sons will inherit the business, that daughters should stick to doing the organisation dishes, and that if Uncle Deadwood doesn??™t perform, we??™ll put him in the chimney corner and feed him for another 30 years regardless. Each assumption has its constituency and its defenders.

If we say to Uncle Deadwood, ???Yes, you did good work for 10 years, but years 11 and 12 look pretty bleak; we think it??™s time we helped you find another chimney,??? shock waves will travel through the organisation as every family-oriented employee draws a sword to defend the sacred concept of guaranteed jobs.??? But you have to try. An organisation that wants to create an environment with no advantages or disadvantages for any group cannot allow the family assumption to remain in place. It must be labelled dishonest mythology. Sometimes the dishonesties are more blatant. 7.

6. Modify Systems. The first purpose of examining and modifying assumptions is to modify systems. Promotion, mentoring, and sponsorship comprise one such system, and the unexamined cream-to-the-top assumption mentioned earlier can tend to keep PDIs and women from climbing the corporate ladder. After all, in many organisations it is difficult to secure a promotion above a certain level without a personal advocate or sponsor. In the context of managing diversity, the question is not whether this system is maximally efficient but whether it works for all employees.

Executives who only sponsor people like themselves are not making much of a contribution to the cause of getting the best from every employee.??? Performance appraisal is another system where unexamined practices and patterns can have pernicious effects. For example, there are organisations where official performance appraisals differ substantially from what is said informally, with the result that employees get their most accurate performance feedback through the grapevine.

So if the grapevine is closed to PDIs and women, they are left at a severe disadvantage. As one white manager observed, ???If the blacks around here knew how they were really perceived, there would be a revolt.??? Maybe so. More important to your business, however, is the fact that without an accurate appraisal of performance, minority and women employees will find it difficult to correct or defend their alleged shortcomings.

7.7. Modify Managerial Models. The second purpose of modifying assumptions is to modify models of managerial and employee behaviour. An example is the Doer Model, often an outgrowth of the family assumption and of unchallenged paternalism. The Doer Model is alive and thriving in a dozen organisations. It works like this: Since father knows best, managers seek subordinates who will follow their lead and do as they do. If they can??™t find people exactly like themselves, they try to find people who aspire to be exactly like themselves.

The goal is predictability and immediate responsiveness because the doer manager is not there to manage people but to do the business. In accounting departments, for example, doer managers do accounting, and subordinates are simply extensions of their hands and minds, sensitive to every signal and suggestion of managerial intent. Doer managers take pride in this identity of purpose.

???I wouldn??™t ask my people to do anything I wouldn??™t do myself,??? they say. ???I roll up my sleeves and get in the trenches.??? Doer managers love to be in the trenches. It keeps them out of the line of fire.??? But managers aren??™t supposed to be in the trenches, and accounting managers aren??™t supposed to do accounting. What they are supposed to do is create systems and a climate that allow accountants to do accounting, a climate that enables people to do what they??™ve been charged to do.

The right goal is doer subordinates, supported and empowered by managers who manage. 7.8. Help People Pioneer. Learning to manage diversity is a change process, and the managers involved are change agents. There is no single tried and tested ???solution??? to diversity and no fixed right way to manage it.

Assuming the existence of a single or even a dominant barrier undervalues the importance of all the other barriers that face any organisation, including, potentially, prejudice, personality, community dynamics, culture, and the ups and downs of business itself.??? While top executives articulate the new organisation policy and their commitment to it, middle managers??”most or all of them still white males, remember??”are placed in the tough position of having to cope with a forest of problems and simultaneously develop the PDIs and women who represent their own competition for an increasingly limited number of promotions. What??™s more, every time they stumble they will themselves be labeled the major barriers to progress. These managers need help, they need a certain amount of sympathy, and, most of all, perhaps, they need to be told that they are pioneers and judged accordingly.??? In one case, an ambitious young black woman was assigned to a white male manager, at his request, on the basis of her excellent organisation record. They looked forward to working together, and for the first three months, everything went well. But then their relationship began to deteriorate, and the harder they worked at patching it up, the worse it got. Both of them, along with their superiors, were surprised by the conflict and seemed puzzled as to its causes.

Eventually, the black woman requested and obtained reassignment. But even though they escaped each other, both suffered a sense of failure severe enough to threaten their careers.??? What could have been done to assist them Well, empathy would not have hurt. But perspective would have been better yet. In their particular organisation and situation, these two people had placed themselves at the cutting edge of race and gender relations. They needed to know that mistakes at the cutting edge are different??”and potentially more valuable??” than mistakes elsewhere.

Maybe they needed some kind of pioneer training. But at the very least they needed to be told that they were pioneers, that conflicts and failures came with the territory, and that they would be judged accordingly.7.

9. Apply the Special Consideration Test. Because of its artificial nature, affirmative action requires constant attention and drive to make it work. The point of learning once and for all how to manage diversity is that all that energy can be focused somewhere else.??? There is a simple test to help spot the diversity programs that are going to eat up enormous quantities of time and effort. Surprisingly, perhaps, it is the same test you might use to identify the programs and policies that created the problem in the first place. The test consists of one question: Does this program, policy, or principle give special consideration to one group Will it contribute to everyone??™s success, or will it only produce an advantage for blacks or whites or women or men Is it designed for them as opposed to us Whenever the answer is yes, you??™re not yet on the road to managing diversity.

??? This does not rule out the possibility of addressing issues that relate to a single group. It only underlines the importance of determining that the issue you??™re addressing does not relate to other groups as well. For example, management in one organisation noticed that blacks were not moving up in the organization.

Before instituting a special program to bring them along, managers conducted interviews to see if they could find the reason for the impasse. What blacks themselves reported was a problem with the quality of supervision. Further interviews showed that other employees too??”including white males??”were concerned about the quality of supervision and felt that little was being done to foster professional development. Correcting the situation eliminated a problem that affected everyone. In this case, a solution that focused only on blacks would have been out of place. Had the problem consisted of prejudice, on the other hand, or some other barrier to blacks or PDIs alone, a solution based on affirmative action would have been perfectly appropriate.

7.10. Continue Affirmative Action and Employment Equity. The ability to manage diversity is the ability to manage an organisation without unnatural advantage or disadvantage for any member of your diverse work force. The fact remains that you must first have a work force that is diverse at every level, and if you don??™t, you??™re going to need affirmative action to get from here to there.

The reason you then want to move beyond affirmative action to managing diversity is because affirmative action fails to deal with the root causes of prejudice and inequality and does little to develop the full potential of every man and woman in the organisation. In a country seeking competitive advantage in a global economy, the goal of managing diversity is to develop our capacity to accept, incorporate, and empower the diverse human talents.7. ConclusionFrom the essay above it is quite clear, that diversity management has a crucial role to play in South African organisations.

At face value, it seems that it is only an HR issue, however as we have dug deeper it is evident that diversity should be properly and holistically managed in order for organisations to thrive in a responsible and sustainable manner going forward. Meaningful and effective intercultural, inter-ethnic, inter-gender and inter-class situations require an ability to manage diversity in its broadest sense. Managing diversity, in turn, requires situational adaptability and communication skills which affirm the value of diverse people and which communicate positive expectancies. Such affirmation, in turn, can create the optimal conditions for effective co-operation and performance.The ideas that have been presented might not necessarily be new, however they are consistent in underlying the principle of getting the basics right and ensuring an all-inclusive, comprehensive approach.?8. References- Daft, R.

K., Kendrick M., Vershinina N., 2010, Management, South-Western Higher Education, a division of Cengage Learning, Inc.- Da Avila-Coelho, M.

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– Human, L., 1991, “Why affirmative action programmes fail: the South African experience”, Human, L., Educating and Developing Managers for a Changing South Africa: Selected Essays, Juta, Cape Town, pp.

217-26.- Human, L., 1993, Affirmative Action and the Development of People: A Practical Guide, Juta, Cape Town.- Human, L., 1994, “The South African experience as a mirror for understanding interculturalism in Europe”, paper delivered at 1994 SIETAR Europa Symposium, Jyvaskyla, Finland, 11-12.- Human, L.

, Allie, F., 1988, “The attitudes of white English-speaking male managers to the advancement of women in business”, South African Journal of Labour Relations, 12, 2, 38-50.- Human, L., Hofmeyr, K., 1985, Black Managers in South African Organisations, Juta, Cape Town.- Human, P., 1988, Do Multi-nationals Make a Difference A Comparison of the Value Orientations of Multinationals with Local Companies Operating in South Africa, Multinational Culture Conference, Hofstra University, New York.

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