Fostering diversity through South Africa's broad based black economic empowerment act

Ijasan, Eseigboria Grace Paula
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South Africa gained strong recognition all over the world after the fall of apartheid. Alas their quest to depolarizing the economy of the country has not ended. Several transformational initiatives have been set up by the government to accomplish this feat, the latest and most successful, in terms of economic empowerment, is the Broad-Based Back Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Act. This initiative has however, been criticized by academics and its direct beneficiaries as not fulfilling its underlying purpose which is to smooth the coexistence of its diversified society. The question has been “is this just another initiative that gives the picture-perfect demographic representation in the work environment or is it giving us much more?” A major discourse has been controversies about the Act’s operationality in achieving its aim and its possible contribution in reinforcing discrimination resulting from societal power shift; hence, the backlash effect on beneficiaries and reverse discrimination on the non-PDI’s (previously disadvantaged individuals). It is on the premise of these questions and criticisms that this research strives to evaluate the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment initiative as a diversity initiative that has gone beyond managing diversity to fostering diversity. It introduced a framework for fostering diversity which was used as a guideline in developing the Fostering Diversity Index questionnaire. Purposive sampling was used, focusing on nine top BEE companies as rated by EmpowerDex. A well-structured questionnaire was developed and distributed within the companies. These companies had their organisational culture assessed, psychological empowerment evaluated and social perceptions of diversity through the implementation of BBBEE evaluated. Findings from this research indicate that the BBBEE Act has a good potential for fostering diversity; however, fostering diversity requires an organisation to have a culture which embraces diversity as well as an adequate level of psychological empowerment. Without both, there will always be the disconnect between a government diversity initiative, such as the BBBEE and the internal state of affairs of the organisation. This study shows the dynamic relationships between organisational culture, social perception of diversity and psychological empowerment within these top-rated BEE companies. Gender was the only factor that predicts workplace diversity. Among the implication to policy, it is recommended that the implementation process of BBBEE be reviewed to attend to the salient issues of diversity.
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, November 2018
Ijasan, Eseigboria Grace Paula, 2018, Fostering diversity through South Africa's Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, University of the Witwatersrand,