Has Dis-Chem changed its hiring policies?

4 November 2022 - Recent comments by Dis-Chem CEO Ivan Saltzman in an interview on the fallout from the leaked document that revealed a “moratorium” on hiring white people in the pharmacy chain highlight continuing uncertainty over Dis-Chem’s hiring policies.

Recent comments by Dis-Chem CEO Ivan Saltzman in an interview on the fallout from the leaked document that revealed a “moratorium” on hiring white people in the pharmacy chain highlight continuing uncertainty over Dis-Chem’s hiring policies.

Mr Saltzman’s comments do little to answer the important questions raised by the leaked memorandum, and the company’s subsequent statement.

In the interview, Mr Saltzman said the memorandum was a “rough draft”. This seems to imply that it was not actually sent to the named addressees, “all managers”. Dis-Chem needs to clarify whether the memorandum was in fact sent to its managers, or not.

The second confusion arises over Mr Saltzman’s statement: “There’s simply no ban on employing and promoting white people in any categories throughout the business.” This only prompts more questions.

It could be that the original “moratorium” was not technically a “ban” in Dis-Chem’s way of speaking, because the leaked memorandum said that managerial appointments needed to be cleared with Mr Saltzman and that bonuses would be based on meeting racial targets, which implies the possibility of exemption from and discretion in applying the “moratorium”. In that case, Mr Saltzman’s statement simply means that the policy has not changed and the “moratorium” against one race group remains in place.

Alternatively, it could mean that there was a “ban”, and that that policy has now changed. In that event, it is important for Dis-Chem to clarify when the policy changed and how this was communicated with Dis-Chem staff members. No such policy can change without staff being told.

Lastly, Dis-Chem needs to answer the crucial question of how it confirms or disconfirms the race of a candidate for hiring or promotion. As long as a “moratorium” is perceived to remain in place there is a serious incentive for people to classify themselves as anything but white. Dis-Chem could be fined billions of rands for the repeat offence of not interrogating and overturning racial self-classification under the forthcoming Employment Equity Amendment Bill (EEB).

The IRR opposes the outsourcing of an apartheid-style “pencil test” to business, but any business that fails to oppose forced racial reclassification must then explain how it does the government’s dirty work.

Said Mlondi Mdluli, IRR Campaign Manager: “Mr Saltzman has failed to answer many critical questions in his recent interview. It is for this reason that we sent a follow-up letter to Dis-Chem this morning, to seek further clarity on its hiring process. Mr Saltzman’s interview is a clear indication that he is willing to engage the public on Dis-Chem’s hiring processes. Therefore, I am confident that Dis-Chem will respond to our letter”. 

* Afrikaans-language media are requested to retain the abbreviation ‘IRR’, rather than using ‘IRV’.

Media contacts: Mlondi Mdluli, IRR Campaign Manager- 071 148 2971; mlondi@irr.org.za

Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns – 082 510 0360; gabriel@irr.org.za

Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za

Sinalo Thuku, Tel: 073 932 8506 Email: sinalo@irr.org.za

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