UCT’s Communication and Marketing Department (CMD) has taken a few steps towards transforming and being more inclusive.
As the central communications unit for the university, CMD is a hub of productivity and the department is praised for its work; regularly receiving awards, a testament to the quality of its outputs and to the dedication of its staff.
However, over the years there have been reports of alleged racism, bullying, unfair power dynamics, victimization and nepotism, among other things. The department has taken a few steps towards transforming and being more inclusive and some positive change has happened, but there is still a need for deeper discussions and interventions as issues continue to surface.
Further training is also needed to ensure consistency amongst all recruitment, selection processes and employment equity practices as some discrepancies have been identified.
Unfortunately, due to the slow pace of transformation work, partly due to the pandemic, there is still some apathy towards transformation work in CMD, and staff participation is low as a result. This is compounded by the fact that at UCT transformation work is voluntary and is not recognized substantially in key performance evaluations along with duties for contracted roles. At CMD however, the executive appears more committed to supporting transformation efforts and regularly engages with the transformation committee and staff in this regard. It is hoped that this continued engagement will lead to an inclusive work environment where all staff are able to thrive without fear of discrimination or vicitimisation.
While 2020 was a difficult year, we managed to finalise our transformation plan, submit our inclusivity plan to UCT’s Office for Inclusivity and Change (OIC) and a series of workshops with the Institute for Justice & Reconciliation were agreed to and signed off at the end of 2020. These workshops are to address issues that arose during the 2018 investigation and the Aephoria Inclusivity Survey.
2020 required a lot of effort to adapt to a new way of working due to the pandemic, and much of the transformation work planned, was thus delayed. Following an adjustment period, the executive of CMD and the transformation committee again planned to implement some of the agreed upon interventions to address areas of concern through various presentations and reminding staff about the avenues of support available to them.
Employment Equity targets
We regularly evaluate our employment equity targets. While most race categories remained constant at CMD in 2020, we increased to 77.5% black South Africans (compared with 76.92% in 2019) with the appointment of two new black African South African colleagues.
Our shifting demographics can mainly only be possible when a position is left vacant by the resignation of a current employee and we have made a conscious effort to fill these positions with black South Africans, specifically to align our demographic makeup with that of the economically active population of the Western Cape.
We are still, however, heavily dominated by female employees and future selection committees need to consider this when making a recommendation of employment.
We also took first steps in reviewing our vendor list to ensure compliance with the university requirements but also to ensure a diverse group of vendors are used at CMD.
CMD Tranformation Committee Chair (June 2019–May 2021)