and Equity Interventions in South Africa)
Though projects that aim to build a multicultural
society with our rich diversity are well
underway, on the ground, South African
society is a long way from reflecting this.
Deep social divisions persist within a
context of conflict, political upheaval
and poverty, while the diversity of the
people remains largely untapped as a resource,
and is often seen a source of difficulty.
While the media highlight race-motivated
killings and the sexual abuse of children,
important daily events continue to reinforce
division and discrimination. The silent,
entrenched practices within organisations
maintain hidden barriers to equity, and
unless they are addressed real social transformation
cannot take place.
Increasingly diversity is being recognised
as a human rights issue, as stated in documents
such as the Declaration of the World conference
against Racism, held in 2001 (United Nations,
2001). With the pressures of globalisation
and rapidly changing demographics within
national states, diversity studies is becoming
an area of academic priority. There is
an enormous thrust to theorise questions
of diversity, co-existence and identity,
on which sound progressive policy and practice
can be formulated. The research project
locates diversity and equity interventions
as crucially linked to understanding power
dynamics within organisations.
Coming from a position of Critical Multiculturalism
of Giroux (1997) and Goldberg (1994), the
research declares its social agenda as:
- departs from a profound commitment
to the values of democracy, social justice,
equity and empowerment;
- recognises that the incorporation of
people that have been marginalised should
not involve a process of assimilation,
but a transformation of the cultural
milieu in order to bring about new social
meanings and representations;
- rejects essentialised notions of identity,
naturalised notions of race, gender
etc, and discourses which reify homogeneity;
- stresses that identity and difference
are constructed within specific historical,
cultural and power relations.
Overall aim and research objective
What is the nature/rigour
of the equity/diversity interventions taking
place in South African organisations, and
is there a need to set standards/guidelines
for this work in South African organisations?
To establish the nature and
perceived efficacy of the diversity interventions
taking place in South African organisations,
as well as the orientation and approach
of these interventions, and to theorise
guidelines for best practice strategies
on the basis of the findings.
A database of South African
service providers in diversity, transformation
and equity management has been established.
Research is being concluded in three major
centres to attempt to identify some best
practice strategies in the area.
An association of diversity providers
is in the process of being established.
One of its goals is, on the basis of the
above, to formulate recommendations for
possible registration with SAQA, which
could inform training qualifications with
SAQA and SETAs.
The outcomes of this research
forms the basis for a proposal on materials
production which involves a process of
further in-depth theorisation leading to
the development of methodological models
for diversity interventions. Practical
resources such as train-the-trainer materials,
suggested readings, a CD-ROM, and manuals
will be developed.
Giroux, H. A. (1997a).
Racial politics and the pedagogy of whiteness.
In M. Hill (Ed.), Whiteness:
A critical reader. New York: New York University
H. A. (1997). Rewriting the discourse
of racial identity: Towards a pedagogy
and politics of
whiteness. Harvard Educational Review,
Goldberg, D. T.
(Ed.). (1994). Multiculturalism: A critical
reader. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.