This process is exactly the same for the rest of the Perdeby team. We hire based on what someone can offer us in terms of skills and ideas.

Regardless of that, I thought it would be interesting to analyse our demographics. Perdeby currently employs 94 people across nine sections. Of these employees, 49 (52%) are white, 45 (48%) are of colour, 44 (47%) are female and 50 (53%) are male. Keep in mind that there is no quota system in play here. This happened on its own. To achieve a 1:1 ratio, I would have to replace two white people with two people of colour and three males with three females – numbers insignificant enough to be petty. The university’s demographics do not match the national demographic, so it is only reasonable that it’s going to take a while for us to be fully representative of our national demographic.

On the evening that these complaints came through, I hosted a general staff meeting and took particular care to analyse just how diverse we really are. I realised something. People whose ages ranged from 18 to 23 years sat side by side. There were drama students, law students, engineering students, physiotherapy students, IT students, marketing students, English students, education students, medical microbiology students and even an actuarial science student. Not only do these students speak English, there were also students who speak Shona, Afrikaans, Greek, Sepedi, Russian, Xhosa, French, Portuguese and Zulu. Some were born in Pretoria and others are complete foreigners. Some like girls and others like guys. Some are wealthy and some are on several loans just to finish the year. Some face physical, emotional or cognitive challenges and others went to schools for the gifted.

If we pulled the bylines from all of our articles or didn’t publish the names and faces of the editorial, what would that mean for Perdeby? Not much, because this publication isn’t about race or gender. It is about providing content that is diverse and relevant to the student body at large as well as specific, smaller groups. If you don’t believe me, have a look through our past editions on issuu.com/perdeby and see how with each edition, the diversity and appeal grows.

If we define diversity just by race or gender, we’re missing something crucial. None of us are two dimensional beings. Everyone has a backstory that makes them unique. Yes, we do need fair representation in the workplace in terms of race and gender but that shouldn’t prevent us from realising that true transformation is the ability to sit next to someone and not worry about their gender or race, but rather who they are as a person.

Michal-Maré

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