Woolworth refutes accusations of racism, disables wall
7 Sep 2012 06:29
Ian Moir, Woolworths CEO says that it is "simply not true" to suggest that Woolworths follows racist recruitment practices - specifically, of not employing white people. The retailer has also disabled its Facebook wall after it became what the company terms "a platform for a well-orchestrated campaign of hate speech".
"The rumours apparently were sparked by some of our recruitment ads that designate certain posts for certain groups, and are being fuelled by an organisation that has called on its members to boycott us," he writes.
"As a Woolworths customer, we thought you'd like to hear the facts: Woolworths DOES employ white people. We employ women and men of all races - white, black, coloured, Indian, as well as people with disabilities, and will continue to do so. We're a passionately South African company, so diversity is important to us. So is offering fair career opportunities. There are some areas of our business where certain groups are seriously under represented. These are the positions where we actively look for qualified candidates from specific groups. Most other businesses do the same to bring diversity into their workforces. In fact, in South Africa all businesses that have more than 50 employees are required to do this. We believe the responsible thing to do is to be open and transparent in our recruitment ads about the type of candidates we are looking for. Integrity is one of the values we hold dear."
Moir writes that as a born-and-bred South African company, Woolworths "cares deeply about the long-term sustainability of our country. We've made significant contributions, through programmes like MySchool, to socio-economic development. We'll continue supporting transformation and socio-economic development because they're essential for our country's (and our company's) future."
Meanwhile, in radical move, the retailer has disabled its Facebook page and posted an open letter to its customers...
"Woolies fans, "Disabling our wall was not a decision we took lightly and not one we're particularly happy about. But when your page becomes little more than a platform for a well-orchestrated campaign of hate speech, we owe it to our customers not to subject them to such vitriol in our own house.
"We have, in a variety of channels, repeatedly refuted the claims being made against us. We have also allowed thousands of comments on our Facebook page, debating the pros and cons of Employment Equity as a national debate... deleting only overt hate speech and comments inciting violence.
"However, we've always put our customers first... and many, many customers have asked us to stop hosting this vitriol. We will re-open our page as soon as we think we can resume reasonable discussion."
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The decision to disable the facebook page is not a great one. You give up your access to all that data, and the opportunity for fans to defend and like the SA Government decision to put its military bases on high alert because a youth activist addresses a small, tiny group of soldiers you give the attackers credibility a commodity of which they had very little.
I thought Pick & Pay would've been the retail company to receive this kind of backlash from their progressive employment equity stance and their HR policies- part of why they have been embraced in townships and other spheres of our diverse society. Think the issue here is rather more rooted in the misconception that Woolworths is a white retail stronghold and because of that, their customer base wishes to dictate that it go against legislated employment equity policy. Employment equity and BEE are necessary policies for those that lack any vision- these policies are the reason SA has not been dragged into chaos by the historically marginalised. Maybe Woolworths should follow Pick and Pay's example and start diversifying into all the different parts of our society, so that when it does advertise posts, the reason for the criteria can become more apparent. A company may suffer if it adopts a progressively HR policy while it perceived to have a near exclusive customer base- that is the case with Woolies when one looks at the store locations as a form of reference.
This is what i term new South Africa,we all know that previously African were margnalised to the point that they were not given a chance to prove themselves,now we are trying to close that gap,i can say white are still in woolworths and having better postions,the only problem is that they are afraid of the gap as now it seems as soon things will be equal,to me as a customer of woolies i am enjoying my experiences,to the group that are fighting against the equality i say forward we go backwards never.
Here's the thing, we all have choices in life, if you would like to stop shopping at woolies, go right ahead. People get way too emotional and sensitive about issues they dont fully understand. I will continue supporting woolies because its a choice i'm making. Stop making a noise for the rest of us! I hope you find the satisfaction you need wherever you will choose to shop!
Sick of small minds, I wish the buck stopped with our generation. There are thounsands of black families who will continue to be in the cycle of poverty. Thats why we cannot end BEE. A lot of other things like education need to go hand in hand with BEE also.
I do agree with you that teaching morals and ethics is key. Its more important now since children aren't just looking at their parents for influence.
I'm so sick of South Africans looking for fires where there are none. There are much more important things to worry about in our economy, and at the end of the day we always get great products and service from Woolies. I see opportunities growing for white South Africans, but as long as people hold onto their negativity they will always live in fear and never grab the opportunities in front of them. We can go look at Ads from hundreds of different companies and come to the same conclusion of "racism". I think people are just looking for something to bitch about and at present Woolies is on the receiving end. People should grow up.
The psychology behind Social Media seems to be lost to Woolworths... And this is not their first mistake on it. Seriously guys??? What I would like to see is this list of requests by customers for Woolworths to disable the Facebook page. Really, I am supposed to believe this. South Africans are not so stupid Woolies...
Stand up Woolies and take the PR hiding like a man.
Let this be a lesson to companies who only use their online marketing strategies to communicate with their customers, it can hurt if it goes wrong. I don't think taking down the FB page was a required step, having a more transparent employment strategy may have become a winner with their new target markets.
Sorry, my continued support has as of recently been discontinued.
Yes there might be a quota of black employees but then employ them as they come - if they have the qualifications and suitability for that position. Don't make the position fit the person, take the person that pits the position. Give everyone an equal chance.
It is okay to give preferential treatment to increase representation, it is definitely NOT Okay to exclude certain groups entirely, which is what Woolworths has done. This is discrimination and doesn't allow a fair opportunity for white job applicants in positions where no suitable candidates from other races can be found.
I will definitely still boycott Woolworths regardless of their PR efforts, they are still wrong. If Ian Mohr really wants to prove a point, he should resign and replace his own position with an employee of Suitable Race requirements, then we can see hoe sincere he is about transformation and not just participating because it is a corporate governance requirement.