For much of 2021 we worked to finalise our transformation and inclusion intervention initiative with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR). By August 2021 it was agreed that this work with the IJR would be for a period of no less than six months, this to enable the department to deliver on its operational commitments and priorities for the university, while demonstrating our commitment to this important transformation work.
CMD had an annual budget of R34 million; of this amount, R100 000 was allocated to transformation work in 2021 and another R100 000 set aside for IJR interventions during 2022, with the proviso that more funds could be made available to the CMD Transformation Committee (TC), by the CMD Executive.
With our transformation reports, which we need to submit to the Office for Inclusivity and Change (OIC) annually, our 2020 rating was 19/32 and 17/32 in 2021. This drop can be ascribed in part to the lack of capacity within the department from February to July 2021 when the department worked on two major crisis events back-to-back.
The contract with the IJR was to address internal challenges which have been experienced over the years, and which the CMD TC committed to address through our Transformation Plan.
Before commencing this work with the IJR, CMD conducted a transformation, diversity and inclusion survey amongst staff in September 2021. A total of 79% of full-time CMD staff completed the survey, that is 30 responses out of 38 staff. The intervention work commenced in November 2021, with the rest of the sessions planned for 2022. Topics to be covered included: Your story, My story (to strengthen trust, after two hard years of needing to work through the COVID-19 pandemic and remotely); Understanding Concepts; Understanding Context and Courageous Conversations. We believe that through this process, and with the tools the IJR will empower us with, many more staff will feel empowered to confront all forms of bias, prejudice, -isms etc.
Part of 2021 was also consumed with developing the department’s new five-year Employment Equity targets for 2022–2026.
We signed off our three-year Inclusion Plan at the end of February 2021 and have assigned staff and champions to the different work streams. Prosilience workshops as part of our Inclusion Plan towards improving our emotional well-being were completed and attended online between July and October. These workshops were delivered by ICAS and covered topics such as neuropsychology, holistic well-being, prosilience and thriving in the face of change and building a resilient attitude.
However, this work was placed on hold because of the UCT fire in April 2021, which consumed the department from an operational and crisis communications perspective for at least three months. Thereafter, as mentioned, we had to prioritise our work and agreed to prioritise the IJR work for 2021 into 2022.
On the initiative of Aamirah Sonday, the previous CMD TC Chair, CMD Senior Managers and CMD Finance were asked to conduct and present data on the diversity and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) status of CMD vendors. The CMD Executive supported where possible that more work needed to be done to transform our vendor pool and this work remains ongoing, with improvements seen.
The hardest part of 2021 was still that we had to transform apart, together. What this meant and looked like, we believe, is that a lot of introspection work was done by many in CMD. While it was hard, we believe wholeheartedly that all staff will continue to thrive individually and collectively because of the steady and continued work we are putting into transformation, diversity and inclusion – and as Interim TC Chair, I thank staff for speaking up when they can and for their participation in the messy work of perpetual transformation.
CMD Interim Transformation Committee Chair