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1 DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICAN COMPANIES Jacques B. Strydom, Graduate School of Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa. And Ronel Erwee Department of Human Resource Management, University of Southern Queensland, Australia. Working paper, later published in a revised and updated format: Strydom, J.B. & Erwee, R. 1998, ‘Diversity Management in a Sample of South African Organisations’, South African Journal of Business Management, 29 (1): 14-20. Best paper for 1998, Prize from
    1  DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICAN COMPANIES Jacques B. Strydom,Graduate School of Management,University of Pretoria,South Africa.AndRonel ErweeDepartment of Human Resource Management,University of Southern Queensland,Australia.Working paper, later published in a revised and updated format: Strydom, J.B. & Erwee, R. 1998, ‘Diversity Management in a Sample of South African Organisations’, South African Journal of Business Management, 29 (1): 14-20. Best paper for 1998, Prize from SA Association of BusinessManagement  ABSTRACTAn interview schedule was used to test the applicability of the Cox model of diversity management ina sample of South African companies with an attempt to apply the perspectives of meta-analysis fordata-analysis. Even though this sample acknowledges the potential advantages of diversity, they do notyet experience a pressing need to optimise diversity in their workforce. This sample can be classifiedmainly as monolithic companies, although some evidence emerged that specific companies aredeveloping a plural orientation. Guidelines were given to apply tools for organisational change toestablish full structural integration and thereby creating multicultural organisations.Search terms: Diversity; multicultural; management of diversity; organisational change. Diversity Management in South African Companies      2 Workforces are becoming more diverse regarding gender, nationality and other dimensions of diversitygiving impetus to the study of diversity (see Cox ,1994, p. 3). Within each company the importance of cross-functional teams, which can imply a diverse membership base, as a basis for achieving acompetitive advantage is being emphasised. As the trend to globalise many domestic companiesincrease and multinational companies penetrate more domestic markets, citizens of one country comeinto contact with problems and developments in other areas in the world. Such trends make companiesre-examine their policies and strategies for the management of diversity .The aims of this paper are to explore (a) the development of an interview schedule to test theapplicability of the Cox model of diversity management in a sample of South African companies and(b) after an attempt at applying the perspectives of meta-analysis, conclusions will be drawn on themanagement of diversity in the sample. In addition to the exploratory research, the teaching aims of the second author were to familiarise MBA students with the theoretical model, develop theirinterviewing techniques and case writing skills. Diversity : A Strategic management perspective  Definitions and dimensions The term diversity is often used as synonym for multiculturalism and the latter concept introduces yetanother set of relevant terms, for example Euro-, Afro- or “multiple-centrist, pluralism / particularism / universalism, separatism versus relativism (Asante, 1992, p.182). Of particular relevance to theSouth African context as well as to indicate at what level of antagonism these concepts are beingdebated, is Ravitch’s statement that “What has confused the matter is that Afrocentrists present theirprogram in public forums as ‘multicultural,’ in order to shield from public view their assertions of racial superiority and racial purity, which promote not the racial understanding which our society sodesperately needs, but racial antagonism” (Ravitch, 1992,p. 182)The importance of uniform terminology is obvious in the conclusion regarding the debate betweenRavitch and Asante: they “agree that their different perspectives [regarding multiculturalism] reflectvery different and incompatible visions of the future of the United States” (Bonevac, 1992,p. 138)For the purpose of this study regarding the term multiculturalism, it suffices to say that people operatein specific social structures which are not homogeneous wholes, but rather composed of multiplecommunities / cultures (Parekh, 1992, p. 44). O’Mara (1994, p.118) distinguishes between diversityand multiculturalism in the following way: “Multiculturalism refers to many cultures. In diversitywork, it means valuing the differences of others and creating an environment that does not requireassimilation (taking on the traits of another culture, leaving the culture of srcin behind).”On the most elementary level, diversity can be defined as “race, gender, age, language, physicalcharacteristics, disability, sexual orientation, economic status, parental status, education, geographicsrcin, profession, lifestyle, religion, position in the company hierarchy, and any other difference ”(O’Mara, 1994, p.115). Cox (1994, p 6) defines cultural diversity as “the representation, in one socialsystem, of people with distinctly different group affiliations of cultural significance.”For this study, diversity is defined as : “the existence of distinctly different elements within andbetween people and social systems”. From this definition the following apply: a) existence - certainphenomena manifest themselves in the diverse setting as being present, either visibly or not; b) distinctly differing - these phenomena are not identical and are the essential causes of diversity; c) elements - referring to characteristics of the differing systems, these integrating phenomena are presentin the diverse setting; d) social systems - man, as a micro-individual social system, is not a static entitybut has ever-changing internal processes and interacts with the environment. This environmentconsists of other micro-individual social systems (individuals) as well as bigger macro-social systems    3 (groups). These macro-social systems interact with other macro-social systems, whether they arenational or international.Certain differences are more important than others regarding their effects on an individual’sopportunities in the world (Gardenswartz and Rowe, 1993, p.392; and Este, Griffin & Hirsch, 1995 -see Table 1) and therefore a distinction is made between primary and secondary dimensions of diversity. Except for possibly sexual orientation, people have no control over the primary dimensions -these dimensions are therefore extremely important. Primary dimensions Secondary dimensions Age Geographic locationEthnicity IncomeGender Marital statusPhysical ability Military experienceSexual orientation Parental statusRace Religious beliefsWork experienceClassHierarchy / status Table 1 Dimensions of diversity A person becomes part of a particular group due to the fact that he/she shares certain characteristics -any of the dimensions listed in Table 1 - which the group has in common, thus a group identity isestablished. When these identities are ignored, something of great importance to the individual isundermined. Cox acknowledges that there are several kinds of identity groups which correspond withthe above listed dimensions including job-function, religion, age and physical ability, but he onlyincludes racio-ethnicity 1 , gender and nationality in his discussions on diversity as these factors are notreally changeable. He furthermore distinguishes between phenotype and culture identity groups. Business imperatives for managing diversity The concept, managing diversity , is described as “planning and implementing organisational systemsand practices to manage people so that potential advantages of diversity are maximised while itspotential disadvantages are minimised ... with the goal of maximising the ability of all employees tocontribute to organisational goals and to achieve their full potential unhindered by group identitiessuch as gender, race, nationality, age and departmental affiliation” (Cox, 1994, p.11).Management literature suggests that organisations should value diversity to enhance competitiveness  but seldom indicates the link between the two concepts (Cox , 1991a, p. 45). He identifies seven areasof business performance which can enable a company to acquire a competitive advantage whendiversity is managed optimally namely (a) Social responsibility goals of companies can be facilitated;( b) Cost - due   to the fact that companies have not always successfully managed groups other than thewhite male majority, many companies suffer either direct costs in the sense of expensive law suits orindirect costs due to high turnover, absenteeism and low job-satisfaction; companies who are quick to 1 : Cox combines the dimensions of race and ethnicity into a single dimension. This might cloud the existing confusion for  John Everyman regardingthe difference between the two dimensions, especially for South Africans where there is such a variety of races and ethic groups. For the sake of thepresent discussion, the combination as formulated by Cox is maintained.      4 create an environment where all personnel can thrive, should gain a competitive cost advantage overthose that do not aim to create such an environment; (c) Resource acquisition - companies that areleaders in effectively managing diversity with specific reference to the proportions of women andminorities in the labour pool, have used publicity in recruiting activities that enhance their reputation;(d)  Marketing - markets in the national as well as the international arena are diversifying and usingdiverse personnel in product areas linked to specific cultural groups, can be a successful strategy; (e) Globalisation is causing companies to take note of cultural differences that exist between consumers;(f) Creativity - diversity in project teams could have a potential benefit on creativity due to thepresence of a variety of perspectives, higher levels of critical analysis and the lower probability of groupthink; (g) System flexibility - i f diversity is managed well, it enhances the system’s flexibility.Cox has two premises: firstly there is evidence that women and ethnic minorities have especiallyflexible cognitive structures; secondly the company becomes more “fluid” and adaptable due torevised policies and operating procedures.The following model emphasises the importance of optimal diversity management in realisingorganisational effectiveness. Model for managing diversity : Figure 1. Cox model of organisational effectiveness (1991a) Diversity Climate   Individual careeroutcomes Organisationaleffectiveness  Individual level ã   Identity structures ã   Prejudice   ã   Stereotyping   ã   Personality  Group/Intergroup level ã   Cultural differences ã   Ethnocentrism ã   Intergroup conflict  Organisation level ã   Informal integration ã   Institutional bias ã   Structural integration ã   Culture Affective outcomes   ã   Career satisfaction ã   Organisationalidentification ã   Job involvement  Career outcomes ã   Jobperformanceratings ã   Compensation ã   PromotionFirst orderfactors ã   Attendance ã   Productivity ã   Recruitingsuccess ã   Creativity ã   Work groupcohesiveness ã   Problem solving Second order factors ã   Profitability ã   Achieve org goals Cox’s model, presented in Figure 1, proposes that the impact of diversity on organisational outcomes  is a complex interaction between individuals and their environment which include intergroup as wellas organisational forces. The model postulates the following 2 : A diversity climate The effects of a person’s group affiliations (race, gender, ethnicity and nationality specifically) can beanalysed on the individual, group and organisational levels. The diversity climate comprises of thefollowing: 2: Concepts applied by Cox which have been discussed earlier and which can be applied ipso facto to his framework, will not be expanded on in thissection.  
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