The right medicine?
We at Treetops Management & Development Consultants have been involved in Diversity Management and Community Building since 1985. We appreciated the need for it then and believe an even greater need still exists. What is sad is that we as South Africans within organisations, communities, universities and our suburbs have note maximised opportunities to engage.
Our experience last year at a mine in the Brits Marikana area, underlines our faith in South Africa’s future to become a Rainbow Nation; we had the opportunity to put more than 750 staff members through a Diversity Management programme. The elements:
i. The history of South Africa
ii. Discrimination, stereotypes and racism
iii. Attitude, mind-sets and mental models
iv. Committing to a better future
Delegates met in groups of 30 – 50 and each group had the diversity of race, language, religion and management levels. Working in smaller groups they, actually for the first time met colleagues that they have been working with for years, as fellow human individuals on a similar journey. They could build bridges together, share dreams and acquire new inter-cultural and interpersonal competencies.
Observation from the Human Resources Manager: “Our first comments from participants:”
· “This course has changed my life”
· “I have discovered that I had negative stereotypes towards other ethnic and racial groups”
· “I will no longer follow the thinking and ideas of other people. I will be independent”
· “This course is not just about Diversity. It is about life”
· “I go away from here today with greater love for myself, my colleagues, the Company and life”
Concluding remarks from the Human Resources Manager:
“…It was a huge success. The impact of the intervention cannot be qualified. In fact, the Facilitators created much more than awareness. They changed how many of our employees see the world today. That is what you want; a lasting impact, change and employees asking for more. We will forever be grateful for what they did for Hernic and all our employees”
A programme such as this creates opportunities in an area known for its volatile, Industrial Relationships and Service Delivery protests. We believe we played a small role in creating ‘Committed future South African citizens’.
The reason: The course is not about intellectualising and philosophising about differences, but about creating space and allowing people to make heart connections with each other. The opportunities to do so is out there, let’s demonstrate to meet and converse and not to confront!
Tsietsi Molebatsi & Johan Greeff