Are Black Managers Job-hopping for the Money?

Are job-hopping Black Managers only in it for the money? Many companies claim 'equal opportunity' yet their processes don't match up.

Are job-hopping black managers a thing?

Why do Black Managers Job-hop? Virtue, Equity and Job-hopping.

Many companies claim ‘equal opportunity’ yet their processes don’t match.

Equity is not just a focus on diversity, (although diversity is an outcome), it’s much deeper and should expand how business processes adapt and innovate to promote inclusion and belonging.

The ability to retain and attract top talent is strengthened when an organization is perceived to be conscious and persuasive regarding values and ethics maintaining equity.

Reasons for Job-hopping in South Africa

Research indicates that black managers will leave for a variety of factors, from failed psychological contracts, to dissatisfaction with organizational culture.

The choice to leave is fundamental to what the legislation is meant to achieve in terms of the pursuit of economic opportunity. 

Below are interesting extracts from different studies unpacking various aspects of equity and attrition:

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The Trust Issue Job-hop

Trust plays a key role in any relationship.

If trust is not reciprocated in the employer – employee relationship, the work agreement will likely end.

African Black senior managers do not trust organisations with their career development. They would rather take control of their own career development by moving from organisation to organisation to build their repertoire of skills and competence. They want to be in charge of their careers.

Employers must do everything they can to cultivate a powerful, persuasive reputation for talent management if they are to safeguard their long-term talent resources.

(Nzukuma & Bussin : 2011)

The Economic Opportunity Job-hop

African managers felt most positive about the employment equity legislation and it was expected that the legislation would positively affect their future prospects, rewards and earnings and opportunity to use their skills and abilities.

This is one of the primary objectives of the legislation and demonstrates the effectiveness of the legislation.

However, the survey also showed a higher turnover of African managers and their intention to leave, this is indicative of the strong influence that a favourable labour market has despite employers attempting to build a relational or balanced psychological contract.

African respondents showed a significantly higher propensity to find a new job in the short-term.

African managers are the least engaged with their employers and feel that firms are not meeting their obligations towards them.

Wöcke & Sutherland : 2008)
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Dissatisfied Black Managers

African Black senior managers generally seek corporate environments that encourage a sense of belonging and with a clear career growth plan.

Nzukuma & Bussin : 2011

Booysen’s (2007) study confirmed national and international research claiming the following prohibitive factors for effective EE implementation and retention of black employees:

  • lack of communication and shared understanding of EE,
  • white male-dominated organisational culture,
  • low leadership commitment to and inconsistency in EE implementation and
  • insufficient focused co-ordination and integration of existing implementation processes are major barriers.

…the role white fear and the lack of meaningful engagement by whites, especially white males, in the EE process — a barrier that plays an important part in the ineffective implementation of EE strategies and in the maintenance of an exclusionary organisational culture.

Specific further retention barriers that were identified in this research were the general lack of talent management, especially black talent management.

A lack of training, development and growth opportunities, lack of career pathing and succession planning and a lack of or ineffective mentoring and coaching were singled out as specific barriers to retaining black employees.

The study also clearly demonstrated that job hopping by black employees does not take place merely because of the pull factor of money, but rather because of the push factor of exclusionary organisational cultures and non-supportive employee practices. The findings of this study underline how deep seated and intransigent many of the issues around EE and retention of the designated groups are.

Booysen: 2007
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Career Management for Black Managers

Career management, quality leadership from immediate manager, the desire to be an entrepreneur and ethical behaviour of the company were important:

‘I partnered with a friend of mine to be a BEE partner in a mining transaction.’

‘I could not morally reconcile with the effects of our product, alcoholic beverages, within the townships, I could not sleep well because of that and I decided to leave.’

‘My manager was reactive in supporting my career.’

‘I am the CEO of my career and when I could not achieve my goals within my company, I decided to seek other pastures.’

(Nzukuma & Bussin : 2011)

Failed Psychological Contract Job-hop

Employers have to be aware of the psychological contract between the employer and the employee.

(Nzukuma & Bussin : 2011)

The violation of psychological contracts is known to have material effects on the relationship between the employer and employee (Robinson & Morrison, 2000).

As the relationship is based on the principle of reciprocity, when an employee experiences a breach of the psychological contract, employees may withhold their contributions to the organisation, and in some instances leave the organisation (Restubog, Bordia & Tang, 2006).

(Wöcke & Sutherland : 2008)

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Black Managers Leave for Mentorship

The shortage of mentorship in organizations contributes to employees choosing to leave voluntarily.

When people from different racial backgrounds share similar views on race-related issues in mentoring relationships, it tends to lead to positive mentor-protégé connections. Black managers may face a challenge in finding mentors.

Companies with formal mentorship programs can help individuals feel more included, promoting their job retention.

However, some experienced managers may be hesitant to take on mentoring roles, possibly due to insecurity or a lack of motivation to train and develop younger talent without financial incentives.

A problem that may exist for Black managers is the lack of mentors. Companies that employ formal mentorship and coaching programmes can assist people in becoming a part of the in-group, thus encouraging their retention (Woolnough & Davidson, 2007). Experienced managers are at times reluctant to take on mentoring, either because they are insecure or because they are unwilling to train and develop young talent without an economic incentive for them to do so.

Mentorship, discrimination, being sabotaged and a culture of diversity were not of utmost importance:

‘White colleagues that were junior to me, had better privileges like better desks, computers.’

‘I did not trust my colleagues and felt I was being set up for failure all the time.’

‘There was no mentorship.

(Nzukuma & Bussin : 2011)

Exclusionary Culture Job-hop

Legislative or institutional regimes may reflect a „carrot and sticks‟ outcomes compliance rather than commitment approach.

April and Dreyer (2007) conclude from qualitative research findings that structural inequalities such as a glass ceiling, power and organization-gendered systems and accompanying misogynistic cultures and behaviors, impact on orgnisational change the work that executives do, work- life balance, high level skills development and career life cycle factors.
This is supported by the work of Booysen and Nkomo (2010), Moleke (2006) and Op‟t ‟Hoog et al (2010) who stress the need for a more inclusive culture in which diversity is valued, supportive employment practices, an integrated attraction, holistic human resource development and retention strategy and effective talent identification and management.

(Horowitz & Jain : 2011)

while the employment equity legislation is successful in promoting the prospects of African managers, and to a lesser extent, those of the middle group, it has the unfortunate consequence of reinforcing the existence of the three social identities in the South African workplace.

This necessitates the development of HR strategies that differentiate between the groupings while attempting to build a united organisational culture, a nigh-impossible task when the differential pull-factors created by the labour market are so strong.

(Wöcke & Sutherland : 2008)


Booysen, L. (2007). Barriers to employment equity implementation and retention of blacks in management in South Africa,  South African Journal of Labour Relations: Vol 31 No 1

Horwitz, F. M and Jain, H (2011). ‘An assessment of Employment Equity and Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment in South Africa.’ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 30 (4) 297-317.

Nzukuma, K.C.C., & Bussin, M. (2011). Job-hopping amongst African Black senior management in South Africa. SA Journal of Human Resource Management/SA Tydskrif vir Menslikehulpbronbestuur, 9(1), Art. #360, 12 pages. sajhrm.v9i1.360

Wöcke, A & Sutherland, M. (April 2008) The impact of employment equity regulations on psychological contracts in South Africa, Article in The International Journal of Human Resource Management ·

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