Woolworths has recently taken a real bashing from members of the public on their Facebook page and elsewhere over claims that they have applied and advertised racist practices as part of their employment process.
This on the back of another recent incident involving Woolworths that raised the ire of many ordinary South Africans – the Frankie’s soft drink saga.
In the aftermath of the racist claims the person that made the initial allegation, self-professed social media and internet marketing guru Justin Harrison, has himself been accused of some unethical practices.
The whole issue is rapidly developing into a very convoluted story indeed; but is all this noise not distracting us from the real problem?
In my opinion most people that are actively involved in or simply have strong views on the whole Affirmative Action / Employment Equity debate are missing a fundamental point. Greater economic growth and a flourishing business sector would render much of the debate a moot point.
By focusing so much energy and emphasis on the wrongs and imbalances of the past we are linking our destiny as a nation more to our troubled past than to a future that can be whatever we choose to make of it. The answer is not to try and divide an already inadequate pie among more people (and bias the size of the slices depending on skin colour), the answer is to make the pie significantly bigger so that there is enough to go around and satisfy everybody.
As long as politicians focus more on enriching themselves and scoring cheap political points wherever they can rather than on creating an environment that fosters economic growth we will always be trying to divide too little money among too many beneficiaries. We need to develop a culture of innovation rather than a culture of entitlement.
Replacing one system of job reservation with another, albeit with the colours reversed, and forcing companies to become (often unwilling) accomplices in this flawed process is simply not a viable long-term solution.
© D Cuthbert 2012
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