Change the world

George Campus


For Faculty of Business and Economic Sciences lecturer at the Nelson Mandela University George Campus, Sam Webber, the university’s recent summer graduation signalled the end of an all-encompassing four year research journey, culminating in the right to proudly add the credentials of Dr to his name

The campus’ newest PhD graduate, Dr Webber, conducted an extensive study on diversity management initiatives in South African businesses, within the context of diversity management being a strategic imperative in all organisations across the globe.

“Workplaces by nature consist of diverse employees, who in one way or another are different in terms of race, gender, religion, culture, age, or any other difference that may have an impact on the business and its employees. The differences among people need to be managed and used to the advantage of organisations” says Dr Webber, a passionate teacher of more than two decades who joined the university in 2011 as lecturer for Management and Retail Management.

 The purpose of the study titled “The influence of diversity management initiatives on business and social outcomes,” was to identify diversity management practices used in South African businesses and how best these can be  utilised in order ensure successful business outcomes and social cohesion.

“The literature differentiates between two types of diversity management initiatives, namely compulsory and voluntary ones. The study found that when implementing these initiatives, companies do not necessarily differentiate between these two types” explains Dr Webber. Therefore it is recommended that when businesses implement diversity management initiatives, an integrated approach should be adopted. “This involves creating and articulating a shared vision, senior management demonstrating their commitment, using task teams as diversity watchdogs, using a top down and bottom up approach to diversity and creating a culture of inclusivity and collaboration, affirming all employees – within a formal change strategy programme”, he concludes.

The study is of practical significance to the South African business environment, which is often plagued by perceptions of inequality and injustice. The research highlights strategies and practices that would assist organisations in developing high impact diversity management strategies that would not only benefit the business itself, but also relevant stakeholders such as employees, customers and communities.

Besides applying his knowledge and expertise to the benefit of his students and industry, Dr Webber is keen to rekindle some or the relationships and interests he had to place on the back-burner while focussing on his studies. He views support from family, curtailing of community interests and responsibilities, self-discipline and maintaining a strict daily routine as critical elements in the completion of his studies.

Moreover, one of the most compelling reasons that “kept him going” was the desire to rise above his childhood circumstances. “In the small township from which I come from, to my knowledge, there is only one individual who studied and obtained a PhD qualification.  During my childhood it never occurred to me that one day I would be referred to as a ‘Doctor’ - mainly due to a lack of academic role models”, he said.

Congratulations, Dr Webber - a worthy role-model for a new generation of Nelson Mandela University graduates!

Nelson Mandela University lecturer and PhD graduate, Dr Sam Webber (centre), with his equally proud supervisor, Dr Amanda Werner (left), and co-supervisor, Dr Marianne Doubell (right).