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A diverse society, a representative military? The complexity of managing diversity in the South African Armed Forces

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After providing a brief background as to why issues of diversity management within armed forces have become important internationally, this article outlines the diversity challenges facing the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). The first part of the article describes how the racial, language / ethnic and gender profile of the SANDF has changed since 1994 and the tensions this has evoked. The second part provides a brief conceptual framework against which diversity management in the SANDF can be interpreted, whereafter the various diversity management programmes instituted over the years to cultivate a respect for diversity are outlined. It is argued that the predominant emphasis on 'workplace diversity' at the cost of 'valuing diversity' has meant that existing stereotypes and tensions within the ranks have remained, with dire consequences not only for the cohesiveness and effectiveness of the SANDF, but also for civil-military relations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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