Going Beyond BBBEE

The BBBEE codes are not only a moral initiative to redress the wrongs of the past, they are also a pragmatic growth strategy that aims to realise the country’s full economic potential while helping to bring the black majority into the economic mainstream. Despite this powerful legislation and rigorous compliance verification, however, the economic disparities remain.

In an article published by the Daily Maverick, it is suggested that South African organisations may need to move beyond mere compliance with broad-based black economic empowerment legislation, to expand their practices to effectively address the lack of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, also known as Jedi, in the workplace.

Implementation of Affirmative Action and BBBEE policies is based on the premise that people need to be externally forced to ensure there is equitable access to resources and opportunities, and the collective unlearning of prejudices. However, humans are notoriously complex and many employers and employees are looking for ways to go beyond BBBEE toward real and deep change in the workplace.

The article suggests that two philosophical approaches can be useful, namely the psychological approach and the spiritual approach.

The psychological approach is one where individuals engage in profoundly personal work, where they begin to accept their own internal diversity and in so doing can accept the external diversity of their fellows. The spiritual approach on the other hand, seeks cohesion and relationship alignment by getting individuals, teams, customers and stakeholders to engage in dialogue on their values and purposes.

As consultants in the BBBEE space with deep experience and a personal passion for making a difference in South Africa, we believe that real change will only come about when the ‘whole person’ is seen, not just the worker, the manager, the supplier etc.  We believe that approaches that take into account the psychological and spiritual side of the human in the workplace will go a long way to meaningful inclusion. Several approaches have been put forward to embed these two approaches into organisational cultures.

    • Storytelling is a tool for workplace integration where employees are encouraged to share and explore each other’s lived experiences and life histories. It results in reciprocal empathy and is probably one of the most powerful transformative tools available to organisations when facilitated well.
    • Countering black and white fatigue where employers have an opportunity to provide a “voice” to black and “white” fatigue by providing a platform to help and equip all employees to talk about race and race experiences. Forward-thinking organisations can drive social innovations through projects that will make tangible differences in people’s lives, and thereby provide constructive outlets for the many people who want to make a difference but don’t know how.
    • The case for inclusive leadership exists because our country needs leaders who have the courage to recognise and highlight the many commonalities among people, while at the same time celebrating the many differences among them. Inclusive leaders must noticeably address the barriers and challenges that perpetuate injustice, inequity and especially economic discrepancy and access. It requires a reorientation toward social activism and responsibility for the public good — something that cannot be only left up to the national government

Read the full Daily Maverick article here as well as the Lucha Lunako research report that explores the need to address the ‘whole person’ when it comes to Youth Development. The report is available on their website

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