Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Exploring Career Advancement Challenges People with Disabilities Are Facing in the South African Work Context

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Exploring Career Advancement Challenges People with Disabilities Are Facing in the South African Work Context

Article excerpt


South Africa has faced a number of discriminatory practices in the past. Most of these practices are still present today. Although a considerate amount of attention has been given to discrimination based on gender, race and religion, limited emphasis has been placed on discrimination based on disability, specifically within the workplace (Ximba, 2016). Some of the major key challenges that employees living with a disability face today include inequality, discrimination and transformation (Marumoagae, 2012). Employees living with disabilities generally face obstacles in exercising the most important economic, political and social rights and have experienced challenges with advancement within their careers (Ximba, 2016). Despite the effort in order to increase awareness and sensitivity with regards to disability within South Africa, employees as well as individuals applying for work mostly find themselves to be the victims of employment discrimination because of their disability (Marumoagae, 2012; Ximba, 2016).

This article aims to broaden research on employment for people with disabilities by exploring career advancement challenges people with disabilities face in the South African workplace. The research literature shows that irrespective of employment equity (EE) legislation employees with disabilities have restricted opportunities to advance in their careers (Cole & Van der Walt, 2014; Commission for Employment Equity [CEE], 2012; Gowan, 2010; Hernandez et al., 2008; Lourens & Phabo, 2015; Ofuani, 2011; Watermeyer, Swartz, Lorenzo & Priestley, 2006). However, there seems to be a dearth of research on the perspective of employees with disabilities regarding the career challenges they face in the post-apartheid South African workplace context (Ximba, 2016). The observed restricted opportunities show a need for further empirical research on career advancement challenges faced by people with disabilities. The purpose of the present study therefore was to contribute to the research literature on career advancement challenges for people with disabilities by exploring the perspectives of employees with declared disabilities. The findings from the research may contribute to the Human Resource Management field in the establishment of transformation and EE strategies focusing on employees with disabilities. Furthermore, the study may potentially assist in improving human resource practices pertaining to the career development of people with disabilities.

Literature review

Disability is a complex concept and definitions vary from country to country (Smith, 2012; Sommo & Chaskes, 2013). According to Sing and Govender (2007), a comprehensive definition of what constitutes disability could prevent employers from recruiting candidates with 'minimal disability' for the sake of equity targets and acknowledges competences for people with disabilities. This article adopted the definition found in the Employment Equity Act (No. 55 of 1998), which defines the disabled as 'people who have a long-term or recurring physical or mental impairment which substantially limits their prospects of entry into, or advancement in, employment'.

Recruitment, selection, training and promotion are generally Human Resource Management practices used for employee career advancement. Recruitment is a process through which organisations attract potential and suitable applicants for employment opportunities (Rahmania, Akhter, Chowdhury, Islam & Haque, 2013; Searle, 2003). Selection is a process whereby a suitable job applicant is chosen from a pool of job applicants based on selection criteria (Abbott & Meyer, 2014). Training intends to equip employees with relevant competencies in order to perform efficiently (Chan, 2010). Promotion is an organisational practice to acknowledge employee performance by appointing an employee to a higher position with increased pay, responsibilities, benefits and autonomy (Tuwei, Matelong, Boit & Tallam, 2013). …

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