Q: Why did you choose diversity as the campaign’s main theme?
A: Diversity was one of the themes that came out as a barrier on the survey’s climate index and with this campaign we want to show people how we can harness diversity to make the NWU stronger and achieve its goal of excellence. In fact, we want people to move beyond merely tolerating each other’s differences towards embracing and accepting our diversity and truly respecting each other.
Q: As a first step, managers have already attended workshops. Who presented the workshops and what was the feedback so far?
A: The same company that undertook last year’s survey, Diversi-T, is facilitating the 13 workshops for 262 managers between June and September this year. The reaction has been so good that we have sometimes had close to 30 managers attending a session, instead of the 20 per session that we envisaged.
Q: Will Diversi-T also facilitate the workshops for the other staff members?
A: No, they won’t. We have asked the campus management committees to identify “champions” to help us facilitate the workshops internally during this next phase.
The campus management committees have identified 10 people from across the NWU who will be playing the role of champions advocating diversity. These staff members, joined by another 10 staff members from People and Culture, will be trained to facilitate the workshops for the entire institution.
Q: When is the second phase going to start, and how long do you think it would take?
A: We are going to start with these workshops in September and it may take anything from three to four years to present the workshops to all staff members.
Q: Why will it take so long?
A: Each month, we plan to present two workshops in Potchefstroom and one each in Mahikeng and Vanderbijlpark. With 20 people attending a session and a staff complement of nearly 5 000, it is clear that this is going to be a long journey. But that is just fine. We want people to mature steadily – if you move too fast, you will lose some of them along the way.
Q: When and where will these workshops take place?
A: We have compiled a calendar with possible dates. Staff members will be able to apply to attend a workshop on a specific date. If that workshop is already full, we will give you an alternative date.
As to where: the workshops will be held across the NWU. In fact, the workshop that you attend may not be on the campus where you are based. The whole idea is to create diverse groups – we want to combine people from all races, genders, campuses and faculties or departments. As a matter of fact, the diversity of the groups as such will be a first exercise in understanding diversity and how we can benefit from it.
Q: If my workshop is on another campus, how am I going to get there?
A: Don’t worry, People and Culture will make the necessary arrangements for university fleet cars to be available.
Q: Will the content of the workshops for staff members be the same as those that managers attended?
A: Absolutely – we want to be consistent in our message and content so that there is a common understanding.
Q: Are you going to do something with the information coming out of all these workshops?
A: Yes, it will show us what to start doing or stop doing, and keep on doing. Eventually it will help us to redefine the NWU culture.
HARNESS OUR DIVERSITY
Vuyiswa Xoba is the director for organisation development at People and Culture.
Learn how to
As you know by now, the NWU has launched a diversity campaign known as *Ubuntu, in response to the results of the climate and culture survey done among staff members last year.
Eish! asked Vuyiswa Xoba, director for organisation development at People and Culture, to tell us more about this campaign.
*Ubuntu means humanity and compassion, and suggests that there is a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.