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The assessment of workforce diversity in the hospitality industry : a case study in the Western Cape, South Africa
Bayari, Lyne Sarah Obindja
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Diversity management was developed in the 1980s in response to demographic changes within the labour force and commercial competition in the US. This context establishes the fundamental point that organisations stand to profit from having a diversified workforce (Naik, 2012). However, the integration of immigrants within South African businesses is a process characterised by intense challenges. The reasons for this are unclear, as are the benefits of having a diverse workforce in the South African labour market. In order to explore and better understand the phenomenon, this study adopts a qualitative research approach and makes use of semi-structured interviews. Such a process is appropriate for gaining insight into complex issues concerning the research problem (East et al., 2010; Monette et al., 2014). According to several sources, immigrants face challenges linked to the degree of their language proficiency, educational level, lack of experience, ethnicity and country of origin. This notwithstanding, immigrants bring to organisations new ideas, a sustainable competitive edge, productivity and profits, and much more. This study provides an understanding of how the hospitality industry value immigrants and how they can accommodate them in their organisations. This will add to the existing body of knowledge and contribute to improvement in the quality of social relationships in organisations, bringing about returns on investment. The researcher adopted the ten ethical guidelines of Bryman and Bell (2007) in carrying out this study. Specifically, the participants’ consent was sought and they were informed that they could exit the project at will, and would not be subjected to any harm. The data collection process was also clearly explained (Bryman & Bell, 2007). The findings of this study were that not only immigrants find it difficult to find a job in the Western Cape Province: South Africans, the majority semi-skilled and under-qualified, are also trying to find a job in their own country. In short, South Africa is in a crisis of high unemployment, and there is an urgent need for more infrastructure to address this. But those who are most disadvantaged in this crisis are immigrants with formidable and remarkable qualifications. They have left their home countries with the sole desire to get work, to succeed, and to enjoy a good life in the host country. Unfortunately, certain destructive circumstances, such as discrimination, obstructive situations in the Department of Home Affairs, etc., prevent them from even obtaining a suitable job offer. At the end of their job search, some remain unemployed while others have to work in hazardous jobs, or in jobs not related to their qualifications, just to have an income. The study concluded that although workforce diversity has some inherent challenges, it has benefits for business organisations and so, should be supported by the government and business owners.
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