Experiences of diversity in the SAPS
Van der Westhuizen, Henriette
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Within a society characterised by globalisation, diversity is an indicative factor of organisational performance. The understanding and experience of diversity are influenced by contexts and perspectives. Therefore contextualisation of diversity is necessary to ensure effective diversity management. The context of the South African Police Service (SAPS) is characterised by high levels of stress, as well as changing demographics. Thus the experience and understanding of diversity should differ from those of other organisations. The objective of this study was to determine how employees of the SAPS experience diversity. More specifically the objectives were to investigate how diversity is conceptualised in the literature, to determine the dimensions of diversity according to the literature, to determine the experience of diversity in the SAPS in the North West Province, and to investigate whether there are any there differences in the conceptualisation and experience of diversity between different genders and cultural groups. An availability, purposeful and voluntary sample was taken of employees working in the SAPS in the North-West province (N=22). Qualitattve research was conducted and the phenomenological method was used to investigate the employees' experience. Data was collected through conducting interviews and analysed by means of content analysis. The results indicated that the employees of the SAPS understand diversity mainly in terms of personality and internal dimensions. As a result of the affirmative action policy there is an equal positive and negative experience of recognition as diverse individuals by the organisation. There was a strong positive experience though regarding growth and learning processes of diversity. Recommendations were made for future research.