The South African labour market is characterised by a diversity of ethnic and cultural groups. The public sector is experiencing pressure from social, economic, political and legislative circles to make the workplace more representative of the population. This study investigated the affirmative action process in a national public sector department in terms of its employees' perceptions of that process. A questionnaire was developed and used as measuring instrument on a random sample of the department's employee population. Results show that the affirmative action process did influence employees' perceptions of their working life and career, and that the majority of respondents perceived the affirmative action process not to be successful.