Original Research

Gender diversity, ethnic diversity and employee performance in a South African higher education institution

Simbarashe Zhuwao, Hlanganipai Ngirande, Wiseman Ndlovu, Sam T. Setati
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 17 | a1061 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v17i0.1061 | © 2019 Simbarashe Zhuwao, Hlanganipai Ngirande, Wiseman Ndlovu, Sam T. Setati | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 April 2018 | Published: 14 March 2019

About the author(s)

Simbarashe Zhuwao, Department of Human Resource Management and Labour Relations, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, Limpopo, South Africa
Hlanganipai Ngirande, Department of Human Resource Management and Labour Relations, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, Limpopo, South Africa
Wiseman Ndlovu, Department of Human Resource Management and Labour Relations, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, Limpopo, South Africa
Sam T. Setati, Department of Business Management, University of Limpopo, Sovenga, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Although there has been an improvement in workforce diversity in South Africa, gender and ethnicity issues such as discrimination, prejudice and sexual harassment prevail within organisations. This is because organisational leaders view diversity as a matter of legal compliance instead of as a value addition to organisational growth and profitability. Based on this, it is important for organisations to understand the economic side of diversity and not just be content with having such a workforce.

Research purpose: This study investigated the effects of gender and ethnic diversity on the performance of employees in a selected higher education institution in South Africa.

Motivation of the study: The study was conducted to determine whether gender and ethnic diversity influences the performance of employees in a higher education institution in South Africa. It is believed that by doing so, the study may assist organisational leaders to determine strategies and best practices that will create culture that is inclusive rather than exclusive.

Research approach/design and method: A cross-sectional research design was used. A stratified random sample (n = 258) was chosen by dividing employees into homogeneous strata of academic and non-academic employees. A self-administered questionnaire was used to gather data. Pearson product moment correlation and multiple regression analysis were performed.

Main findings: The results show that gender diversity and ethnic diversity are positively and significantly related to employee performance. The study recommends that higher education institutions implement effective diversity management policies and strategies to improve the effectiveness of gender and ethnic diversity towards the performance of employees.

Practical/managerial implications: The study recommends organisations to embrace diversity and not just abide by the affirmative action policies and be satisfied with having such a workforce. To achieve this, effective diversity management programmes such as diversity training and mentoring programmes should be implemented to ensure that all employees are properly trained on diversity issues.

Contribution/value add: First of all, the findings of this study will add to existing knowledge that will aid in the understanding of gender and ethnic diversity in general and its relevance to employee performance, which in turn leads to organisational performance. Furthermore, this study will be an eye opener to organisational leaders and employees as it will help them to begin to see that diversity is a blessing rather than a matter of legal compliance. It will help organisations to see the need for having diversity and confirm that employees can work together despite their differences.


Keywords

gender diversity; ethnic diversity; employee performance; higher education institutuion

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