Assessing diversity management within the Western Cape Department of Community Safety

Bovana, Lindelwa Priscilla (2014-04)

Thesis (MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.


South Africa has committed itself to social transformation: institutional transformation through the removal of racism and sexism in all legislation, business, employment practices, service delivery and interpersonal relationships: in all of society; and in all spheres of government. Diversity in the South African context is dynamic and complicated as a result of the -apartheid era. There are many political, social and economic factors that are major obstacles to building healthy intercultural relations in South Africa. In today’s corporate workplace, diversity management is what is mostly used to bring about transformation. The South African Constitution enacted in 1996 states that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, being united in our diversity. We are now almost two decades into our democracy and, despite progress being made to ensure redress of historical imbalances in South Africa; diversity management is not advancing at the pace that had initially been envisaged. It is therefore evident that, despite enabling legislation to promote diversity management, translating such into practice is proving to be quite a daunting challenge. It has been noted that organisations are still grappling with issues of diversity. Working with people who have different values, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, customs and languages from your own can result in costly miscommunication, misinterpretation, misunderstanding and misperception. This subject of diversity management has been explored exhaustively by various authors over time and various explanations for lack of progress have been offered. Over the years, the Western Cape Department of Community Safety (DCS) has witnessed an in increase in its organisational workforce. Employees from different backgrounds were recruited to achieve representivity in the workplace. It even went to the extent of appointing females in fields of employment which were previously predominantly staffed by males. The thesis assessed the DCS approach to diversity management by: - Firstly, obtaining an understanding of how diversity is managed in the department; - Secondly exploring the concept of diversity management in various contexts; - Thirdly exploring the legislative context for diversity management in the South African Public Service; and - Determining the DCSs approach to diversity management by using the current situation in the DCS as a case study A qualitative case study research design with structured interviews and survey questionnaires was used to conduct the study. This was used to draw inferences between practice and theory. The literature review on what diversity management is has been be grouped into dimensions to influence managers to formulate a model on how to embrace and value diversity in the workplace. The research findings clearly indicate that the Department of Community Safety still has much to do in terms of implementing the prescribed legislation on diversity. It is expected that the study will assist the department in its endeavour to achieve a greater level of compliance. In an organisation, the desired results of the “value all differences” approach are synergy and pluralism combined with an appreciation of and contribution towards goals and objectives. Recommendations are proposed in relation to what is key to diversity management as well as identifying determining factors of successful management. The main aim is the implementation of the diversity management model that comprises several steps.

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