Cape Town Shuns Black Talent
July 24, 2012 § 8 Comments
originally appeared in my Cape Times column on July 16 2012
SIX YEARS ago, I packed my bags in the Mother City and headed for the City of Gold. I left Cape Town behind despite its beauty, my many friends and the many beautiful women who adorn the city. About the many beautiful women allow me an aside. I went to Cannes, France in my first year in Joburg. While I was there, many people who had visited Cape Town would say: “That place has some of the most beautiful women in the world.”
In Cape Town, I had the most diverse group of friends. In fact – at the risk of sounding like that guy – some of my best friends were white. I’d probably say 60 percent were white; the rest were a mixture of black and coloured.
After I’d moved to Joburg, a white friend said to me: “Most of your pictures on Facebook were with white people when you were in Cape Town. Now that you are in Johannesburg they are just of black people.” We laughed, but it was true. I will never forget looking at a picture of five of my friends one day. All of them had left Cape Town for Joburg that year.
All those in the picture were black. Hardly any of my white friends had left Cape Town for Jozi. In fact, the thought of moving to Joburg was completely revolting to them. This got me thinking – why? Well, my black friends felt that they could not progress in their careers in Cape Town. There was a feeling that they were not taken seriously and were just there to make up numbers.
The prospect of making it big in Cape Town was just never there and the possibility was never shown to them. And the money was not attractive, either.
The white kids didn’t feel there was no place for them to make it in Cape Town, so they were comfortable in their careers and did not feel the need or pressure to move.
Once my friends had moved to the City of Gold, they had bigger responsibilities and were well supported by the business owners who hired them. They didn’t feel as if they had been hired as a favour; rather, they were expected to be good at their jobs. And they were.
It was the last place I worked at in Cape Town where I really felt valued. In fact, I had my most creative years in advertising when I worked there.
Cape Town needs to rethink how to retain black talent. Everyone wants to feel that they are important to the progress of an organisation. The more Cape Town denies that there is an issue with retaining black talent, the tougher it will be for the city to retain and attract black talent.
Some organisations like to use the age-old excuse that black talent wants a lot of money. It’s not just black folk that want to be well paid. Everybody wants that.Black people already know that working in Cape Town will be tough for them, so they’d rather be paid well while working in a hostile environment.
It’s only logical. No one goes to work in Dubai to be paid the same as they would be here. The weather is terrible and you have different rights than the local people. It makes sense to be paid well for the sacrifice you are making to be there. Black people do want to work in Cape Town, but the environment isn’t friendly to them. They would rather work where they are welcome; they don’t have to beg to work in Cape Town.
If Cape Town doesn’t change, soon, businesses in the city will have to pay more than Joburg for black talent because there will be a lack of supply.