Social Issues In South Africa Management Essay

In society, the population of the world is affected by social economic issues. This research analysis will focus mainly on South Africa, showing a list of the different issues found in South Africa, as well as listing the ways in which they affect the country in both the business and environmental sectors.

The different types of social issues found in South Africa are listed below:

Poverty- is an economical condition in which people do not have sufficient income to obtain minimal levels of health services, food, housing, clothing and education. These minimal levels are generally recognized as being necessary to ensure an adequate standard of living. The Causes of poverty are:

Individuals who find it difficult to earn an income.

Members of large families, where the breadwinner of the family is either unemployed or works for low wages.

Lack of educational opportunity and an education of a poor quality.

A high level of unemployment.

Unemployment- population and employment play a big factor as part of the social economic issues. As technology increases, more technical knowledge and experience is needed in South Africa’s industries, even in farming, mining, manufacturing and service industries. Unemployment affects businesses by causing poverty.

HIV/AIDS-the constant spread of this disease throughout the country plays a contributing factor to the social economic factors in South Africa. HIV/AIDS decreases the life expectancy of the population and effects businesses negatively because if one of their staff members has passed away from this disease, they must spend money on finding, and training new staff, which can be time consuming and decrease the work ethic within the business.

Increase of population- the greater the population, the greater the demand is for resources and raw materials. Uncontrolled settlement development can also result in problems of pollution, health hazards, and inadequate housing and service provision, contributing to informal sector activities and crime.(4) Natural resources in areas surrounding settlements are generally under greater pressures than those in areas of less dense human habitation.(1)

Water supply- with the increasing population, the use of water is starting to become limited. Scientists are already looking for alternatives to supplying water, such as the desalination of sea water, which is so far an expensive exercise.

The issue of poverty relating to South Africa

Summed up all together, most of the issues mentioned above relate back to poverty. Poverty leads to people who are not able to afford an education, or can only afford a poor quality education. The lack of education causes unemployment, and unemployment leads to crime. Besides that the uneducated populations are prone to make uneducated decisions relating to starting a family when you are not in the position to afford children, and this leads to unsafe sex, which causes the spread of HIV/AIDS.

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The impacts of poverty on the environment include deforestation from excessive collection of wood for fuel, soil degradation through cultivation of unsuitable soils, and exploitation of rare and endangered species to supplement incomes. An inability to adequately provide for the basic needs of the population will lead to collapse of the natural ecosystem services and deterioration in the quality of life. (2)

Poverty also has a large impact on businesses. As a result of low or no education, lack of training and working skills, inability to access various services, poor people don’t contribute much to their local community and can retard or hamper economic growth in the area. Poverty means that potential business markets are reduced and can therefore decrease the businesses ability to make profit. It may be wise for businesses to team up with government to alleviate poverty and to uplift the poor in their business environments as this will help broaden the consumer base for itself and all other businesses and benefit them in the long term.

Woolworths limited

What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been defined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development as “the continuing commitment by companies to behave ethically and to contribute to economic development, while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families, as well as the local community and society at large.”(5)

Woolworths is one of the leading food retailers in South Africa, as one of the largest public companies they are aware of the social, environmental and economical impact they have on the communities in which they operate. As a result of this, Woolworths is big into corporate social responsibilities. They design and implement certain strategies to enable their company to run better, as well as benefit the environment around them. Woolworths is a company with a good ethics and morals base system, where their employees must obey the values of the company.

Below is a diagram drawn up by Woolworths to show the distribution of their corporate social responsibility model. (7)

Figure 3.1: Corporate social responsibility model of Woolworths.

Woolworths has a responsibility for, and is committed to, the implementation of effective and efficient long term management strategies which address issues arising from the company’s impact on the environment in which it operates. Woolworths is aware of the impact their company has on the environment and it is important for them to have certain strategies in place to solve the problem. An example of Woolworths contributing to the environment is by implementing the ‘green’ bag which is not as harsh on the environment as the traditional “plastic” bag. Woolworths is also associated with the community and have a lot of fund raisers where 100% of funds go to providing food for the poor or it is donated to certain hospitals. Woolworths also participates in the efforts to tackle problem drinking. They have voluntarily introduced a range of measures (above the license requirements) to assist local communities to better manage alcohol related issues. (7)

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The one issue which Woolworths concentrates the most on is the impact that they have on the environment. Woolworths has realized that their company has effected the environment in 4 ways:

Electricity consumption and associated green house gas emissions.

Store waste going into landfills and recycling.

Packaging used in their operations and by their consumers.

Fuel consumption and associated green house gases in their vehicle fleet.

Electricity consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions

Woolworths looked at the following aspects in order to reduce their electricity consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions.

Refrigeration – Woolworths’ three major refrigeration service providers were asked to undertake a program to cost-effectively improve system energy efficiency while maintaining product temperature and system up-time. By identifying high output sites and those that could be tuned remotely, substantial improvement was noted in the performance efficiency of many supermarket refrigeration systems.

Lighting – Woolworths spent their efforts on replacing their original light bulbs in their stores with energy efficient light bulbs, and by putting special lighting systems in place to reduce the amount of energy used. Below is a breakdown of the savings delivered in a sample of their supermarkets once controlled lighting had been introduced.

Table 4.1: Table showing the amount of energy used in stores before and after the new lighting systems were installed.(7)

Temperature control – most of the Woolworths stores have implemented a change in their temperature control. Instead of having a heavy on energy air-conditioner, they have installed an extremely efficient 6-tiecase fan which in the long run will benefit the business positively.

Store waste going into landfills and recycling

Key to this program is for Woolworths to implement various recycling programs within the stores to minimize the amount of general waste produced. Woolworths is involved in recycling most of their waste such as:


Green waste (recycled to fertilizer)

Chicken oil

Packaging used in their operations and by their customers

Woolworths has managed to transform their packaging to environmentally friendly. They have trained their staff in efficiently packing purchases so that not as many bags are used. They have also implemented a ‘green’ bag which is heavy duty, can be reused and is healthy for the environment.

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Fuel consumption and associated greenhouse gases in their vehicle transport fleet

Woolworths has put a lot of insight to this issue and has come up with certain ideas to help alleviate the problem. They have discovered that by planning their trips they can be more efficient by making many stops at once and not going back and fourth the whole time. They have also invested in fully efficient cars which save on their fuel prices and the amount of green house gasses they emit. Woolworths is also investing money into a program for developing other forms of fuel that they might be able to use in the future.


SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective. Below is a SWOT analysis table that Woolworths designed to plan and evaluate their project.

Table 8.1: SWOT analysis


Open door policy to the press

CERES guidance and co-ordination &active CSR

Selective supply chain strategy

careful food safety standards

reasonably priced and high quality products

Nutritional information available on packaging

Decentralised yet connected system

Innovative excellence program

Promoting ethical conduct



Inflexible to changes in market trends

Difficult to find and retain employees

Drive for achieving shareholder value may counter CSR

Promoted CSR meat imports in error


Attractive &flexible employment

Positive environmental commitments

Higher standards demanded from suppliers

Corporate Responsibility Committee

Honest and real brand image


Fabricated stories about the quality of their food

Health concerns surrounding Beef, Poultry &Fish

Possible Labour exploitation

CSR at the risk of profit loss

Contributor to global warming (3)


Ecology is a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society, its members and its economies are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, planning and acting for the ability to maintain these ideals in the very long term. (6)

The most important way in which Woolworth’s project is sustainable is in the fact that it is saving the environment and thus helping the world last longer and slowing global warming. Their whole project is sustainable as they are planning for the future and helping their business to be continuous. It is sustainable in the fact that the business will save money in the long term, and contribute to the end of global warming.

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