EMPLOYMENT EQUITY COMMITTEES – Transformation Tool or Waste of Company Time?

Companies may be compelled to form Employment Equity Committees, but there is very little guidance to help organizations make these committees truly effective in bringing about organizational transformation. This is most likely because businesses’ operations, workforces and internal processes differ greatly and will impact on how the members of the committee are able to contribute.

Although the Department of Labour is clamping down on non-conforming businesses by doing audits and insisting the consultation committees are properly trained, many businesses still find that their EE Committees don’t know how to guide the process to being effective in their companies. In the numerous training interventions we have undertaken with EE Committees over the past few months, we have noticed trends that point to some common things that will ensure the EE Committee in your company not only contributes to diversity initiatives, but also enhances staff relations and communication. I have noticed that organizations who actually have EE Committees in place, fall into three categories:

  • 1. Companies that have Committees that meet occasionally during the year; but these committees have very little knowledge of their role and how they can play a part in the transformation process; resulting in the HR department doing all the preparation and implementation of EE plans unilaterally, with very little consultation with the Committee.
  • 2. Companies that have Committees simply to pay lip service to EE legislation, and the few members of the committee don’t participate at all.
  • 3. Companies that have effective Committees who have been in place for some time, and are beginning to understand their role, but find the process regularly hindered by internal disputes or ineffectiveness to execute real action.

All of these situations can be vastly improved if suitable training interventions are put into place to support the Committee members. Without fundamental tools in place, the Employment Equity Committee will not only be a waste of the individual members’ time, but will ultimately have negative effects on the morale of all staff, as they see nothing but conflict and empty promises arising out of the process. Some of the critical interventions needed to make your EE Committee effective, are:

  • A very clear understanding amongst all Committee members of their roles and responsibilities. This may include clarifying who and what they represent both in the committee and to their constituents, which issues are not brought to meetings, and how to work together towards a common goal rather than historical position-taking.
  • An effective and specific Constitution, including protocol guidelines and mechanisms for dealing with disputes in the committee.
  • An effective chairperson, chosen by the Committee, who can facilitate arguments objectively, help people to cut through issues and drive meetings to practical and executable action.
  • Involvement from a senior member of management to ensure feedback on issues of importance (even if the senior management member participates on an ad-hoc basis).
  • Committee members who are able to (and prepared to) take time educating themselves on Skills Development and Human Resources issues so that they can become actively involved in creating systems or solutions rather than criticizing.
  • Mechanisms to communicate CLEARLY, in an easily-understood manner, to all employees, about company processes that relate to people development (issues such as recruitment processes; qualifications vs competencies; meeting of EE targets; defined job requirements for promotion prospects etc.)
  • Training for Committee members in communication and meeting skills, which is specific and practical, to enable them to extract information; make convincing arguments; listen to others openly; present opinions clearly and objectively and reach conclusions.
  • Training and support to help Committee members to convey positive and negative information appropriately to their constituents, especially when staff have expectations that Committee members are working to change a situation that cannot be changed.

Copperline can assist with all of the above interventions, through training, consulting processes or support and facilitation in selected meetings. Call us if you’d like to discuss how we can help you.

Employment Equity is a reality that most businesses need to take far more seriously than they have in the past. Most of the success lies in knowing how to cut through practical challenges to enable a group that can work together as champions of change.

If you need help, contact us! We have been running Employment Equity workshops and assisting companies with compliance for 10 years, and have the most up-to-date Employment Equity toolkits for Committees and Transformation Forums.

WE CAN ALSO PROVIDE YOUR COMPANY WITH A PRACTICAL AND ENTERTAINING EMPLOYMENT EQUITY VIDEO FOR TRAINING AND COMMUNICATING EMPLOYMENT EQUITY TO STAFF. THIS VIDEO IS UP-TO-DATE, SOUTH AFRICAN IN CONTEXT, AND ILLUSTRATES
REALLIFE SCENARIOS AND TYPICAL DIVERSITY PROBLEMS THAT SOUTH AFRICAN BUSINESSES EXPERIENCE
Click here to see more about this DVD:
EE DVD

Joanna Cooke
Copperline Training, Cape Town – May 2013

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