In 2009, the United Nations announced that July 18th would be Nelson Mandela International Day. This holiday was created to celebrate and commemorate the impact he had on South Africa.
As recently as 1990, South Africa had upheld its system of apertheid – separating Black and White citizens. Black citizens were denied the right to vote, enabling the all-white government to maintain their political power in the country despite being a minority among the population.
The push for change began after Nelson Mandela, an anti-apartheid revolutionary, was released from prison in 1990. He was able to negotiate with then-president Frederik Willem de Klerk. This led to the first multi-racial election in 1994, which saw Nelson Mandela become president.
One of Nelson Mandela’s influences was the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights violations and provide a framework to ameliorate these atrocities. His emphasis on the absence of violence won him the Nobel Peace prize in 1993.
In his inaugural speech in 1994, he described his vision of a South Africa where all citizens would coexist and live without fear of discrimination. Mandela advocated that the atrocities of the past should not influence future policy. Instead, he prioritized healing and supporting the communities of people affected by the apartheid.
In 2013, Nelson Mandela passed away from natural causes at the age of 95. His legacy continues to empower millions of people who have seen their world change for the better. That being said, there is still work that must be done to bridge the gaps in equality for South African citizens.
The Path Forward:
Despite the significant progress that has been made under Nelson Mandela’s leadership, the path to an inclusive society will be paved by action at the top levels of government and organizations throughout the country.
Although making up only 7.8% of the population, White South Africans make up greater than 75% of CEO’s of exchange listed companies. This demonstrates how the removal of the apartheid has not eliminated the systematic oppression that continues to favour the ruling minority group.
In order for companies to address this gap, they must commit to collecting data to measure diversity and inclusion. This allows them to understand their current status in respect to their diversity structure. They can then pledge to take action to address the inequalities that are identified. Finally, they must track their progress towards these goals and consistently reevaluate their diversity and inclusion goals.
At Diversio, we have created the ‘Diversio Certification’ to recognize companies that are taking direct action to create an inclusive culture.
Visit diversio.com to see how you can commit to delivering tangible change.