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DA slammed with racism claims - make sure it doesn't happen to your company

by , 04 June 2013
Several of black leaders in the DA's KwaZulu Natal office dealt the party a hard blow when they accused the party of racism and left the party. While the matter is yet to appear in court, disproving racism charges isn't easy. That's why the best thing your company can do is take a zero-tolerance approach to racism in the workplace. Here's how...

'Two DA councillors, Alyson Cele of the Umuziwabantu municipality, and Mthokozisi Mtolo, of the UMzumbe municipality, which are under the Ugu district, have taken the DA to court after they were expelled from their positions and from the party,' The Sowetan reported yesterday.

This comes on the back of claims that Cele was wrongfully dismissed to make way for a white local farmer, Mark Gallagher. 'I was replaced with Gallagher because of his skin colour. He was appointed despite not having been on the candidates list,'' said Cele told the media yesterday.

Despite the fact that Provincial DA chairman Sizwe Mchunu claims the two are 'talking nonsense,' explains LexisNexis; it's going to be hard for the DA to prove this wasn't the case.

That's why it's better to have a zero-tolerance approach to racism in the workplace so you can nip any claims in the bud before they become a problem.

Implement a zero-tolerance approach to racism in the workplace in four steps

To curb racism in the workplace, you need to send out a strong message to employees at all levels of your organisation that you won't tolerate racism and false accusations of racism, explains employment law expert Lizle Louw in Labour Law for Managers.

Here are four steps to doing this:

Step #1: Put sound policies and procedures in place to combat racism
These policies and procedures should incorporate action plans detailing the measures that you'll undertake to provide a non-discriminatory workplace, explains Louw. You also need make these policies accessible to all employees in your company.

Step #2:  Investigate any incident immediately
If a racist incident occurs, investigate it immediately! Then deal with it in line with your disciplinary or grievance procedure.

Step #3: Celebrate ethnic diversity
Encourage managers to learn and understand different cultures and develop an intercultural ethos in staff areas, such as the canteen. Incorporate different cultures at your annual staff party. This will help you foster a company culture that doesn't tolerate racism.

Step #4: Comply with the Employment Equity Act (EEA)
'You must comply with the EEA when you're obliged to. If you're a designated employer, you must submit your employment equity reports to the DoL by the prescribed deadlines. The EEA will monitor and enforce its provisions. It will fine you between R50 000 to R900 000 if you don't comply,' warns Louw.

You also need to comply with the Skills Development Act and strengthen the skills of your workforce through training for relevant staff – regardless of race.

So there you have it – use these tips to ensure your company has a zero-tolerance approach to racism so you can avoid the kind of hot water the DA has just landed itself in.

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