Affirmative Action and Employment Equity in South Africa: Dilemma or Dream Answer

Maggie Holtzhausen
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Over the past decade South Africa has implemented employment equity and affirmative action policies according to legislation promulgated after the first democratic elections in 1994. There was a clear need for these radical changes due to various reasons – the most important perhaps from an international perspective the necessity to integrate South Africa into the global economy, and from a national perspective the dire need to redress the imbalances brought about by the country’s past history. This paper explores the controversial question of whether the implementation of affirmative action and employment equity legislation and policies has been the answer to the challenges unique to South Africa. Is it the solution it promised to be? Is it, for instance, the creator of a form of reversed discrimination? What is the organisational justice perception regarding affirmative action? Can the country redress past discrimination and boost productivity at the same time whilst skills development is not as yet on par?

Keywords: Employment equity, Affirmative action
Stream: Economics and Management
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Maggie Holtzhausen

Lecturer, Human Resource Management
School of Management Sciences, Unisa

Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

I am a lecturer in the Human Resource Department of the School of Management Sciences at Unisa, South Africa. I teach Labour Relations, as well as Human Resource Management and Business Management. I am in the process of finalising my MCom through the University of Cape Town, South Africa. I am co-author of The South African Labour Glossary (1996), contributing author to South African Employment Relations, 6th Edition (due 2008) and co-author to South African Human Resource Management, 4ht Edition (due 2008). I have delivered numerous papers at national and international conferences. I regard myself as fairly "new" in the academic world, but am enjoying the challenges very much.

Ref: I07P1034