What will happen if companies fail to plan for workplace equality

Companies failing to prepare employment equity plans may shortly incur the wrath of the Labour Court. The Department of Labour announced that it was taking six companies to court over breaches of the Employment Equity Act (EEA).

The EEA is the primary South African legislation dealing with the prohibition on discrimination and affirmative action measures in the workplace.
 
Not all South African companies are obliged to prepare employment equity reports. However, once an employer triggers a headcount or turnover threshold it has to comply with the obligations of Designated Employers under the EEA.

The EEA also allows non-designated employers to comply voluntarily with the affirmative action provisions of the EEA. The affirmative action measures aim to address the ails of the past that still hamper equality in the workplace.
 
Designated Employers who do not prepare employment equity plans (a requirement stipulated in section 20(1) of the EEA) may be referred for prosecution by the Department’s Inspection and Enforcement Services branch. Similarly, the department has named (and shamed) six companies who it alleges reported on plans that do not exist. It also issued recommendations on contraventions to a further five companies and gave them 60 days to comply.
 
The Department announced further that it will continue with the inspection it commenced in July 2017, of 72 JSE securities-listed companies to ensure compliance with employment equity. In July the Department initiated a National Director-General Review, which involves a process of interrogating company’s EE plans to assess whether the plan complies with legislation and is able to transform when put to test. It intends finalising inspections in in December 2017.
 
Employers should heed the timeous warning issued by the Department. Failure to comply with the affirmative action provisions of the EEA can result in fines (up to R1.5 million for failing to prepare EE plans). Non-compliant companies can also expect to attract sanction in the court of public opinion.
 
Businesses should ensure they allocate this important role to a designated manager and that they comply with the required affirmative action measures. The successful implementation of affirmative action in the workplace is a critical component of addressing inequality in our society. Irrespective of whether employers comply with the EEA because of conviction or fear of sanction, businesses should address this critical workplace imperative.

Johan Botes is a Partner and Head of the Employment & Compensation Practice at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg.

How Knowledge Management needs to evolve to keep up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Technology will change the way people perform work and hence the operating model of organisations will need to be re-evaluated and adjusted within the foreseeable future.

Bhalla, Dyrcks and Strack (2017) warn that, “a tidal way of change is coming that will soon make the way we work almost unrecognisable to today’s business leaders. In an age of rapidly evolving technologies, business models, demographics, and even workplace attitudes … change is not only constant but also exponential in its pace and scope.”
 
These changes result from the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its emphasis on technological innovation and digital productivity.
 
Schwab (World Economic Forum, 2017) describes the extent and nature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: “In its scale, scope and complexity, (it) is unlike anything humankind has experienced before … Consider the unlimited possibilities of having billions of people connected by mobile devices, giving rise to unprecedented processing power, storage capabilities and knowledge access. Or think about the staggering confluence of emerging technology breakthroughs, covering wide-ranging fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage and quantum computing, to name a few.”
 
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will primarily affect the following four organisational areas:
 
• Customer expectations – how customers are served;  
• Product enhancement – digital capabilities, durable and resilient, predictive maintenance;
• Collaborative innovation – new forms of collaboration;
• Organisational forms – new business models, different skills and talent.
 
Traditionally, each of these four areas has been enabled and supported by Knowledge Management. While there are various theories on the meaning of Knowledge Management, but I see it as the “the deliberate and systematic coordination of an organisation’s people, technology, processes, and organisational structure in order to add value through reuse and innovation. This is achieved through the promotion of creating, sharing, and applying knowledge as well as through the feeding of valuable lessons learned and best practices into corporate memory in order to foster continued organisational learning.” (Dalkir, 2005.)
 
Because of the profound impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on organisations, people, and work processes, it is critical to reflect on the manner in which Knowledge Management is practised in organisations, in an age where people are seamlessly connected through ubiquitous technologies. In future, data will be generated by sensor-enabled technologies and analysed by powerful analysis tools that will inform decision-making in the workplace.
 
What is the role of Knowledge Management in a world where individuals are increasingly becoming redundant? What contribution can Knowledge Management make, when thousands of devices are connected in the Cloud and can perform simple and complex tasks with limited interaction with their human counterparts? This is a world where a refrigerator can instruct a driverless car to stop at the nearest supermarket; where a voice recognition-enabled device can perform financial transactions without human intervention.
 
Many Knowledge Management strategies and initiatives have been implemented to focus on the processes of creating, capturing, organising, and leveraging the information and knowledge of individuals. But technology now dictates the way forward, with regard to how we manage the knowledge of people and the work processes performed in organisations.
 
The question that needs to be answered is: how can Knowledge Management remain relevant in an era where knowledge is the result of data captured in a variety of systems that connect technologies? Tacit knowledge will become slightly less “valuable”, as decisions will be based on rational or scientific decision-making, as opposed to recognition-based or intuitive decision-making (resulting from previous experience, stories and mental models).
 
In companies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Knowledge Management must support:
 
1. Identifying and leveraging the skills and competencies that robots cannot “learn”;
2. Identifying and “contracting” sources of knowledge or crowd resourcing;
3. Localising global knowledge;
4. Smart organisations and continuous access to knowledge and creating employee-centric hubs;
5. Sourcing of relevant data and ensuring that data are clean prior to analyses;
6. Ascertaining the relevancy and the value of capturing and sharing experience;
7. Social innovation and sustainability of knowledge;
8. Social networks and empowering the global employee;
9. Ensuring that devices are connected to the Internet of Things and that knowledge can be created from the connectedness of devices; and
10. Ensuring the safety and privacy of employees.
 
Change is imminent and Knowledge Management must evolve or subside into the realms of cyberspace. It is time for us to calculate and prepare to define the relevance of codification and personalisation strategies in an environment where information is redundant within seconds and employees are no longer tied to organisations via psychological contract.

Dr Deonie Botha is the Head of Strategy at Sebata Municipal Solutions – a subsidiary of MICROmega Holdings.

Why kidnapping is becoming a concern in South Africa

Within the broader context of political unrest and the high rate of violent crime in South Africa, international kidnapping syndicates appear to be gaining a foothold in the country.

Kidnapping for ransom has been fairly widespread in other African countries and terrorism hotspots internationally, forcing business travellers to take extra precautions when visiting high-risk territories. It appears South Africa is now on the radar.

Recently, the police ministry in South Africa made high-profile statements about syndicates that follow high net worth individuals – including foreign businessmen – from the main international airport in the country, OR Tambo International, and then rob them at gun point. As the police attempt to allay fears about the follow-home syndicates, the country’s biggest media house has warned about kidnapping cartels.

News 24, quoted well-known social activist Yusuf Abramjee as warning that foreign business people are being targeted for kidnap-for-ransom in South Africa. While many of the criminals have been arrested, others continue to spring up, targeting largely Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Bangladeshi, Zimbabwean and Mozambican nationals in South Africa. The reality is that businesses have to be increasingly vigilant. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, Arcfyre provides security and risk consulting services in many countries across multiple continents. It is imperative for businesses to take risks seriously. They need to conduct thorough due diligence before they send their staff travelling. It is the responsibility of businesses to ensure that their employees are safe.

It has been mandatory for businesses and NGOs to seek professional advice and services when travelling to countries in high-risk areas in some African countries and the Middle East for quite some time.

The key is for employers to ensure that both they and their employees are educated on the risks and potential threats, and that these risks are mitigated as much as possible. Should travellers find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation, they would need to be prepared with the correct training to deal with the situation. This could literally be life-saving.

In any country, including South Africa, local knowledge is invaluable in planning routes and areas to visit.

Conducting a thorough risk assessment will inform which preventative measures to take, such as whether hiring protection on the ground is needed, identifying areas and routes to avoid, assessing the need for trained and vetted local drivers, to implementing a kidnapping and ransom policy developed by experts in security and risk mitigation.

The obligation businesses have in ensuring the safety of their staff includes measures such as tracking employees’ whereabouts and sharing vital knowledge, information and resources as and when they become available.

Reputable experts in the fields of protection, training and consulting do thorough research and have real-time intelligence which, coupled with extensive experience, equips them to make informed security decisions.

Jared Higgins is the CEO of Arcfyre Group.

Why should you change careers later in life?

While changing careers as a youngster is commonplace (and almost expected), it’s often felt that doing the same thing over the age of 45 is foolish in terms of your income and career prospects.

But not anymore. As people are living longer, and working longer, the reality is that post 45, you may still have over 20 years left of your career. That’s more than enough time to find something that fulfils you, and earn a decent living from it too.

Here are some points to consider if you’re thinking of making a move, later in life:

1. Think about your goals

There are many reasons why people change careers. Is it to reduce your stress levels? Learn something new? Follow your passion? Or perhaps because you want to work part time? Once you narrow that down, you can make sure that your new chosen career path aligns with those needs, rather than competes with them.

2. Do the tests

We’re not talking about exams here. Have you done a variety of aptitude tests to determine where your skillset lies? It’s all very well having the dream of being a teacher but do you have the required skills to do the job? If you’re missing a few vital ones, perhaps think about doing a course part-time, in the evenings and on weekends, so you can acquire those abilities, before you take the plunge.

3. Consider your finances

While making your career dreams come true is a noble pursuit, it should not be at the detriment of your financial stability. If you don’t have one already, speak to a financial advisor about your plans, or consult a friend you know who keeps their personal finances in great shape. Look at your monthly expenses, plus what you’re saving for retirement, and make an accurate prediction of how this career change will affect your pocket. You’ve had time in your life to save, so you should be able to make this work.

4. Use your experience to your advantage

It’s not true that companies don’t hire people over the age of 50. There are many advantages to hiring older staff, from a wealth of experience, to industry contacts, to a strong work ethic. Use your work and life experience to your advantage, by calling up contacts in the companies for which you want to work, and being confident in the way you pitch yourself. You’ve done your fair share of interviews in your time, and you know how to communicate – so use all of these tricks to your advantage.

5. Get on top of tech

There are few industries that have not been affected by advances in tech. If you’re thinking of a career change, it makes sense to know your way around the digital landscape, as it will probably apply to your new role or industry. Play around with social media, connect with thought leaders in your space and learn, learn, learn.

Whether you want to give back to society, turn a hobby into a job, or simply change your pace – switching careers later in life is a hugely exciting prospect that is said to improve your happiness and wellbeing. Good luck!

Provided by Fedhealth.

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