As you are no doubt aware the racial tension on social media is escalating daily. Fellow South Africans of all race groups are represented and the arguments, comments and accusations being flung about hit hard.
Penny Sparrow has risen to notoriety but there have been others. Each and every individual in this country sits with their own attitudes, opinions and emotions. Most of these so deeply entrenched that we no longer have any choices. We have to debate the future of the so-called Rainbow Nation.
It is also true that many people are saying let’s get on with it. Let’s stop looking back and take some positive steps to secure a future for ourselves and our children. But many don’t know how.
From our perspective it’s simple. If every corporation in South Africa embarked on a meaningful two-day dialogue facilitated by experienced trainers with a track record of conciliation and diversity knowledge, highlighting and debunking stereotypes and the role of the media; respect, understanding and empathy will start building. It’s that simple. We’ve seen it again and again.
But why should corporates invest to this extent, what’s in it for them? Well, firstly increased productivity.
In teams where there is no back-biting or underlying tension, no turf-guarding and no recriminations or incorrect assumptions, where communication is good and the respect is at a high level, in those teams, deadlines and targets are reached.
The further benefits are that a truly non-racial organisation will set a benchmark in their industry drawing in applications from the most skilled who have but one goal. Progress. And in a time of skills shortage, this is exactly what is needed to ensure sustainability.
In addition, the level of emotional intelligence in an individual who has attended diversity training increases, thereby increasing the likelihood of developing good leaders, and if there is one thing we know it is that the lack of good leadership is the number one reason for failed departments and organisations.
In closing, it is true to say that South Africa cannot take too many more knocks without the damage being irreparable. We are losing jobs hand over fist and we are hemorrhaging skills at every border post. We have a generation of jobless youth who are in despair and all we actually have to do is to talk.
Are you willing to do so?
By Debbie Engelbrecht