More than a Space for Interracial Contact: Exploring the Importance of the Workplace for Social Cohesion and Reconciliation in South Africa

Acknowledging that interactions between South Africans from various backgrounds extend beyond contact, but also take place within a historical and contemporary context, this report consists of several parts. Firstly, it explores the changing nature of the South African workplace since 1994, providing a brief introduction to the country’s racialized inequalities in education and the workforce, as well as post 1994 legislative changes to address these racial imbalances. Secondly, it explores the lingering inequalities in the South African labour force. Thirdly, using repeated cross-sectional data from the South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB), this report explores South Africans’ attitude towards transformation and creating a racially representative workforce. Fourthly, it offers some theoretical reflections on reconciliation, in particular relation to the pivotal role a workforce can play in nurturing reconciliation. Fifthly, it explores levels of distrust between colleagues and offers some explanations for varying degrees of trust. Finally, this report concludes by exploring the workplace as a site of expanding trust, integral to social cohesion and reconciliation processes in South Africa.