But let us first give you some background about why SABPP and EES Siyaka were launching these awards this month.
South Africa is known to be a nation of diversity, the question is whether organisations have leveraged on this as a tool for competitiveness and sustainable growth. The benefits would be attained through the enhancement of the organisation’s productivity, performance, complex problem solving and innovation. This would address the challenges that many organisations are facing today with regards to increased competition, lack of innovation, fast-paced technological developments, lack of competencies and skills as well as speed of expansion and growth. The EEDT Awards put a major emphasis on ensuring that we link employment equity not only to the imperative of social justice, but also business performance.
In organisations the focus should not only be on embracing people’s differences but also be on the engagement of these individuals on their day to day activities. The achievement of this obviously requires commitment from both the government and organisations. In South Africa, that has been an ongoing journey since 1998, with the promulgation of the Employment Equity Act, and organisations having to comply with this legislation. Interestingly, the 2018 SABPP EEDT Awards scheduled launched this month does not only coincide with the celebration of former president Nelson Mandela’s centenary but also with the theme for the 2018 Global Talent Competitiveness Index called “Diversity for Competitiveness”. This theme alludes to the fact that globally, diversity plays a pivotal role in linking talent policies to innovation strategies. With this focus, The Global Talent Competitiveness 2018 Index tries to tackle how diversity can be generated, enhanced, leveraged by governments, regions, cities, organisations, teams and individuals to design and implement the talent strategies required in the uncertain future that lies ahead of us.
Taking that into account, the SABPP in collaboration with TDCI and EES-Siyaka, in addition to the 8thAnnual EEDDT Summit for the very first time initiated the 2018 SABPP EEDT Awards with the aim of encouraging organisations to showcase their efforts on diversity and transformation related initiatives that have been conducted over the years, for some organisations even prior to the Employment Equity Act of 1998.
However, while we are proud of the winners awarded this month, what is more important is what they really did to deserve these awards. Therefore, following the inspiring talk by Bonang Mohale, CEO of Business Leadership SA, after we are engaging two key stakeholders this morning, the Black Management Forum and the Employment Equity Commission with their keynote speakers, we have invited the winners of the awards to give us the details about their EEDT strategies. During the EEDT summit, delegates were inspired by their successes and lessons, including how they overcame some of the typical obstacles encountered in the workplace and society at large.
As a professional body SABPP, have played a critical role in equipping organisations with setting diversity and inclusion amongst others, as priorities that will ensure sustainable talent attraction, development and retention. In so doing, The SABPP introduced The HR Management System Standards in 2013, whereby Employment Equity and Diversity Management permeates across all these 13 National HR Standards. The achievement of Employment Equity informs the organisational and HR strategies as well as gives direction to Talent management, workforce planning and HR Risk Management. For this to be attained, diversity management programmes need to be of the highest standard. Out of the 39 companies that have been audited by SABPP since 2013, the underachievement is noted in some of the most important areas needed for successful diversity and inclusion agenda and these ranges from strategic human resources management, talent management, workforce planning, OD, HR service delivery and measurement.
This in many ways indicate that our journey to excellence on the diversity and inclusion agenda is still a long and challenging one, thus requiring a significant focus in fostering a culture of inclusion, through training and by creating environments in which everyone feels respected, heard and engaged. By so doing South African organisations would be able to focus on building diverse workforces that can address and solve problems across all spectrums of our societies including innovative solutions. Overall, these can truly be achieved through highly skilled, diverse and competent teams whose diverse thinking and decision-making are effectively entrenched within the culture and fibre of their organisations.
We want to thank all participants for their commitment to employment equity and for the results achieved by their diversity programmes. It is important that the winners share their success stories with us in ensuring that we learn from those companies that are making significant progress in employment equity.
The HR community has decided to step up and to take responsibility for our role as HR professionals in making employment equity work effectively. While commentators and the media often report on the poor progress in employment equity, as the HR community we have decided to turn the situation around. We will not accept unequal workplaces. We will continue to drive strong diversity programmes, and accelerate the progressive implementation of employment equity plans.
Building on the EEDT Awards function, the first results of these efforts have now been celebrated. We will continue to track progress on an annual basis, and share these success stories with the broader market. One day, when full equality has been achieved, the HR community will look back and say: “We were there when it all started, and today we celebrate equality.” Let us all join the journey towards equality. We can now go back to our workplaces and implement our continuous EEDT work, and return next year as a participant in the awards programme. Then you can also present your case study next year. As HR Professionals let us learn, share and improve our EEDT practices.
Elizabeth Dhlamini-Kumalo is Chairperson of the SABPP HR Governance Committee, Chair of the #EEDTSummit and one of the judges for the #EEDTAwards.