Instead of squabbling let’s exploit our differences!
“Affirmative action an insult to black talent” so said David Bullard writing in the Sunday Times in 2007. In the article Bullard implied that Employment Equity and affirmative action are simply a numbers game to redress the sins of the past. He stated “Running a society based on the lowest common denominator ultimately produces a nation of losers. An example is team sport. If racial quotas are more important than sporting talent, is it any wonder we throw up so many losing teams?”
Isn’t it about time to wake up? We need each other! Look for example how embracing equity and transformation has benefited South African Sevens rugby. South Africa is recognised as one of the top contenders for the Sevens World Cup and some of the Black and Coloured players are recognised internationally for their abilities. Cecil Africa, Seabelo Sinatla, Cheslin Kolby, Juan De Jong, Justin Geduld and others have proved their merits and would probably make most of the teams at the tournament, if they decided to change countries! Embracing diversity brings out the best in us.
To be a winning nation, and the opportunities are there for the taking, we need to focus on the future, embrace our diversity and adopt a philosophy of abundance. There is plenty enough out there for everybody, but not if we keep squabbling about the past and not if we don’t use all our resources.
Employment equity is just that – equity. It is about leveling the playing fields. You do not do that by excluding the very people who have the knowledge and skills to get the economy going!
While affirmative action is still necessary to bring about equity, it should not place an absolute barrier to the advancement of previously advantaged groups. It should also not make it virtually impossible for ‘non-black’ school leavers and graduates to find employment. All that is doing is causing people to emigrate so that the investment in education is lost to the country.
If we are to ever break the bogey of the past we need to embark on a national programme of diversity training in our schools and places of work so that:-
- We understand that although we are different, we have common interests.
- Instead of emphasizing differences, we need to focus on those common interests.
- We learn that conflict is natural and if we manage it properly, it can bring positive changes for us all.
- We learn to speak up when something upsets us and we allow others to do the same.
- We learn to respect each others’ languages and culture.
- We learn to be sensitive to the insecurities of others and respect those things that are dear to them.
- We learn to leverage the differences in our society to our advantage.
Then we can become a winning nation!
BRUNO BRUNIQUEL & TENNYSON MAHLAMBI
Bruniquel & Associates (Pty) Ltd
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