Original Research

Attitudes towards and experience of employment equity

Rudolf M. Oosthuizen, Vasantha Naidoo
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 36, No 1 | a836 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v36i1.836 | © 2010 Rudolf M. Oosthuizen, Vasantha Naidoo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 June 2009 | Published: 23 November 2010

About the author(s)

Rudolf M. Oosthuizen, University of South Africa, South Africa
Vasantha Naidoo, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The demography of the South African work force has changed considerably since the implementation of Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998. There is no clarity in the literature on employees’ attitudes towards and experiences of employment equity (EE).

Research purpose: The purpose of this research was to contribute to the EE debate by qualitatively identifying and exploring employees’ attitudes towards and experiences of EE in the South African work context.

Research design, approach and method: Twenty-one organisations were included in the study and 105 interviews conducted.

Main findings: The results indicated that employees at management level perceived government as an EE ‘watchdog’. Furthermore, reverse discrimination and racism were demarcated as the main experience of non-management employees. For previously disadvantaged employees, the main concerns were lack of training and development, whereas for the non-previously disadvantaged the primary concerns were reverse discrimination, racism and victimisation.

Pratical/managerial implications: Future research may be that the results can benefit from contrasting, (1) the perspectives of previously disadvantaged management versus previously advantaged management to (2) the perspectives of previously disadvantaged non-management versus previously advantaged non-management. Furthermore, it will be valuable to include other industries in the private and public sector in future samples.

Contribution/value-add: The contribution of the research is building and/or supporting the current knowledge base of employees’ attitudes towards and experiences of EE in the South African work context. Proactive measures should be taken to ensure that the majority of previously disadvantaged and the non-previously disadvantaged groups benefit from EE legislation. The introduction of holistic human resource management practices that complement target setting, could overcome the stumbling blocks currently being experienced in the effective implementation of EE.


Keywords

attitudes; experience; employment equity; affirmative action; hermeneutic phenomenological method

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