Theory and implementation evaluation to the STAP/ADAPT diversity programme

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The modern day workplace is faced with the challenge of managing an increasingly diverse workforce. Although diversity among employees yields many benefits, companies must consider the implications of having people from different cultural, linguistic, socio-economic and religious backgrounds working closely together (Chuang & Liao, 2010; Mayo, 2006; Stewart & Ruckdeschel, 1998; Wentling, 2000). It is for this reason that organisations increasingly invest in programmes aimed at managing diversity. Having interventions which allow employees to understand those different from themselves will not only develop their intercultural communication skills, but also impact positively on interpersonal interaction within the company (Avery & Thomas, 2004; Bagshaw, 2004; Cross, 2004). Given the history of South Africa, diversity and diversity management are particularly sensitive topics. Legislative measures, such as the Employment Equity Act No. 55 of 1998, were implemented by the post-apartheid government to redress the past imbalances and inequality. While these laws may mandate certain processes and procedures within organisations, they do very little to change people's mind sets in attempt to get employees to engage and cooperate with each other (Alexander, 2007; April, Ephraim, & Peters, 2012; Cavaleros, Van Vuuren, & Visser, 2002). In order to deal with this human aspect of diversity, initiatives aimed at increasing tolerance for and acceptance of 'different others', reducing stereotypes and increasing individuals' intercultural communication skills, have emerged. These programmes often bring people from various backgrounds together, allowing them to learn about each other and communicate, encouraging them to adopt different perspectives and to tolerate and respect views and opinions that may not coincide with their own (Paluck, 2006; Roberson, Kulik, & Pepper, 2003). Although multinational companies are the forerunners of such programmes, tertiary education providers have been found to invest in or develop similar programmes (McCauley, Wright, & Harris, 2000). The University of Cape Town's Transformation Services Office implemented one such programme: the STAP/ADAPT programme, which is the focus of this evaluation. The evaluation consisted of two parts, namely: a theory and an implementation evaluation.

Includes bibliographical references.