The challenge of mediating diverse cultural values in the workplace using South Africa?s constitutional framework

20 Feb 2015

Any meaningful discussion about the interface between leadership and cultural diversity in South Africa will have to take into account both the historical context that shaped current mainstream practices as well as the attempts to innovatively mould diverse value systems. Providing leadership in a multicultural context requires managers to appreciate that people joining teams bring expertise, beliefs, customs and cultural experiences to the team. These factors enhance professional experience if properly managed or impede growth and learning if not mediated accordingly. Companies increasingly contend internally with a culturally diverse workforce as well as an even more complex external environment of clients, partners and suppliers. All these dynamics operate within the legislative and policy regime of which they are legally expected to harmoniously comply with. This paper exploits this opportune moment for leadership and management practitioners and scholars alike to reflect on current practices and theories towards a more organically evolving but systematically useful framework. The paper will contribute to the discussion on leadership and management practice by reflecting on the interface between leadership and cultural diversity in South Africa within the constitutional framework. The paper does not to offer a ?to do list? of acceptable leadership practices that advance cultural diversity in a project context. It will be argued in this paper that the human rights framework implied in our Constitution is that of ?work in progress? rather than a prescriptive ?one size fits all? formula. The paper relies primarily on an interdisciplinary set of secondary literature in the fields of development studies, human rights, project management, business studies and cultural studies.