The Director General of the Department of Public Service and Administration, Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, participated as a panellist at the Global Government Forum webinar on 16 May 2023.
The webinar, themed ‘Diverse and Thrive: How building more Inclusive Organisations Can Improve Delivery’, deliberated on topics including, how to recruit to create diverse teams, how to create policymaking structures that harness the insight of employees from different backgrounds and how to create systems that allow for ideas from officials throughout public sector organisations to be brought forward and developed.
The audience of the webinar comprised civil service leaders and managers from around the world.
In her opening comments on the topic, DG Makhasi gave the South African Public Service context in terms of diversity.
She said as of 01 March 2023, the South African Public Service has 1 183 765 public servants with 65% of those being female. Out of this number 65 214 121 are above the age of 55, which is an increase of 1,3% since 2004.
Senior Managers are 9 347 in the public service and 44% of these are female, with 1,3% being below the age of 35 and 22% or 2 042 above the age of 55. Employees with disabilities account for 0.93%.
The Director General said the 2023 World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report highlights occupational disruptions and labour market transformations driven by technological breakthroughs using AI, eGovernment and eServices.
She said diversity is enshrined in the South African Constitution as demonstrated by the 12 official languages and a Public Service with a government founded on democratic values and principles of human dignity, equality, promotion of race relations and freedom amongst others.
The South African Public Service Act, of 1994 and the Employment Equity Act, of 1998, place diversity in the workplace at the centre stage by promoting gender equality, race relations, generation mix, religion and sexual orientation.
Any discriminatory act is viewed seriously, and all employers must take steps to promote equal opportunity in the workplace by eliminating discrimination in any employment policy or practice.
By law, designated employers must have an employment equity plan and should know and narrow the target candidates including using head hunting where necessary.
“Advertising on diverse and social media platforms to reach a diverse pool including designated groups has assisted us in South Africa.
“We have also made progress in removing financial and nonfinancial barriers such as removing experience requirements for entry-level jobs.
“In reaching diversity targets, my advice would be to start with the diversity that is already in our organisations by implementing practices such as succession planning.
“We should create awareness and promote Public Service diversity through communicating the values, ethics, and discipline to create an organisational culture that supports diversity,” DG Makhasi said.
The Director General said the challenges experienced in South Africa are the ageing public service and slow economic growth including a rising wage bill. “This is limiting recruitment and is to the detriment of the youth as it limits recruitment of young people in public service and will continue if the current profile is maintained.”
Other challenges mentioned by the DG included managers co-managing with labour unions.
“To circumvent these challenges, the South African government is taking an approach of Integrated Human Resource Strategy with talent management. The government is also introducing coaching and mentoring including the revision of the Public Service Regulation 2016 and amending the Public Service Act to give original powers to Heads of Departments,” the DG said.
The Global Government Forum is a publishing house providing journalism, research and events aimed at senior central government officials around the globe, producing webinars, and hosting physical events such as the Innovation Conference, the Digital Summit and the Global Government Summit.