Being fair is a central interest among today's managers concerned about providing
equal employment opportunities, fair labour practices and paying a fair day's pay for a
fair day's work. The differing perspectives, interests and goals of managers and
employees, however, make it difficult to determine what employees regard as fair
treatment. The multidimensionality of fairness is evident when one considers how
people disagree when asked what is fair. The different answers to questions about the
fairness of affirmative action depend on whether the focus is on outcomes, procedures or
motives. The fairness of affirmative action should thus be determined by taking the
distributive, procedural and interactional components of fairness into consideration.
From a distributive point of view, there is not much an organisation can do about the
perceived fairness of a decision to appoint or promote people from previously
disadvantaged groups, because legislation, such as the Employment Equity Act (No.
55 of 1998) and the Promotion of Equality and the Prevention of Unfair
Discrimination Act (No. 4 of 2000) regulate this issue. There are, however, various
ways in which affirmative action decisions can be made and implemented. To increase
the perceived fairness of affirmative action decisions, organisations need to reconsider the
way they implement affirmative action and treat employees. Research has shown that
employees are more inclined to accept unfavourable outcomes if they are treated in a fair
and respectful manner.