Transformation is a topic high on the agenda of many important and necessary conversations in South Africa. True transformation is never a linear process – it seldom starts at an identifiable point and it does not always have a definitive end point. Along the way there are some legislative procedures to follow, but true transformation takes place when businesses are solved with problems, and how they then choose to solve those problems.
Employment Equity is a critical driver of transformation in South Africa, providing easy-to-follow guidelines for equality and inclusiveness in its current state.
Unfortunately, many business owners view Employment Equity as a tickbox exercise and often inhibits true transformation that provides inclusiveness and equality across genders, races, and skills. When this happens, transformation is held up as a smokescreen to protect employers against non-compliance with legislation. True transformation can happen when employers and employees don’t just show up – they buy in.
“Showing up” for Employment Equity:
- Choosing people for the EE Committee that are largely apathetic to avoid admin or more work
- Hosting the required EE Committee meetings as quick get-togethers over lunch or breaks, for the sake of formality
- Setting easy, low goals that hasn’t been well thought through
- Not providing good reasons for not achieving EE goals and targets
- Providing no training on Employment Equity to all employees
There are many benefits to bringing about true transformation in a business:
- Employees that are informed about the Employment Equity measures in place, are reassured of fairness and opportunity and thus they are more motivated
- Knowing that equality in the workplace is prioritised by management, employee loyalty and trust is fostered because employees can see long-term careers with the company, so reducing recruitment costs
- It gives guidance and purpose to your Skills Development strategy
- It is a powerful HR tool to provide realistic measures to facilitate employee communication about transformation
- It fosters organisational resilience as an experienced, committed, and trained team grows together
These benefits can be unlocked when there is true buy-in into Employment Equity initiatives. Buy-in, as opposed to just showing up, can take many forms including:
- Carefully recruiting your EE Committee from key stakeholders that are invested in change and knowledgeable about the business landscape and transformation landscape, or can be coached towards influential roles
- Providing consistent Employment Equity training and hosting awareness events
- Communicating frequently about Employment Equity
- Being transparent about how Employment Equity is implemented and how transformation and equality is implemented
- Employment Equity targets/goals are broadcasted and whether those targets/goals were met or not, is shared with the entire organisation and stakeholders
- Transformation is used as a lens for problem-solving as they arise in the course of business
- Transformation is a creative tool, not a barrier to “business as usual”