Natalie Grundlingh of Oriole Consulting, a client orientated legal consultancy firm based in Johannesburg, on EE best practice.
There is a general school of thought that both beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries have negative sentiments toward Employment Equity (EE), based on the divisiveness this programme brings to an organisation.
According to research by the SA Journal of Industrial Psychology (SAJIP), in an essence Beneficiaries may fear tokenism and marginalisation, being victims of White manipulation or being sold out, when appointed in designated positions.
Non-beneficiaries however, not only question the political and ethical legitimacy of EE, but also fear retribution or revenge from previously disadvantaged groups, loss of standards, punitive taxation and limitation of their career opportunities.
Why you should disregard the above paragraph
The overall aim of EE is to correct past practices and ensure equal representation in the workplace. For companies over 50 employees or with a turnover over the threshold which differs from industry to industry it is vital to keep a sharp focus on the end result of EE, rather than the current situation.
A happy, motivated and eager employee can make the difference. The South African workplace is changing and as a decision maker within your company, you need to be aware of the benefits of EE opposed to the negatives.
Why EE could work for you
So ignoring the above research and focusing on the positivity EE could bring to your company is not only essential, it will ensure long-term survival.
South Africa has one of the most diverse employment pools, and a company now has the opportunity in exploring new “types” of employees, that could add a fresh dimension and bring in much-needed change. Racial perceptions blur the perspective and in some instances can cause financial loss.
Reaching out to an employment market not yet fully explored will heed exciting results. Take for example Airconduct, a client of Oriole Consulting. Airconduct has undertaken to embrace EE on the merits of reaping the rewards further down the line. Airconduct has instituted the EE plan that not only adheres but exceeds government expectation.
Diversity, Innovation and Corporate Culture
Diversity brings substantial potential benefits such as better decision making and improved problem solving, greater creativity and innovation. The act of recognising diversity also allows for those employees with these talents to feel needed and have a sense of belonging, which in turn increases their commitment to the company and allows each of them to contribute in a unique way.
Related: SMEs and Employment Equity
Taking the decision in cementing a strong and effective organisational culture will drive the company forward and beyond expectation. Through the development of a shared set of common values rooted in the basic equality and dignity of all people, perspectives on EE start to change for the positive.
Organisational culture should be underscored by respect for individuals irrespective of different backgrounds and traditions, and an appreciation of the negative consequences of stereotyping. In this way, EE will create a positive, nurturing and welcoming environment conducive to the growth, development and retention of employees irrespective of race, gender, nationality or disability status.