South Africa: Culture
This guide to business culture and etiquette in South Africa is courtesy of Executive Planet
South Africa: An Introduction
South Africa, officially known as the Republic of South Africa, is located at the southern tip of the African continent. It borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho, an independent enclave surrounded by South African territory. South Africa surfaces an area of 1 219 090 km2.
According to the South African Government, South Africa’s surface falls into two categories: the interior plateau and the land between the plateau and the coast. The boundary between these two areas is called The Escarpment and is the most prominent feature of the country. The interior plateau arises out of the Karoo and Namib Desert. This part of the country is rather dry. The other part of the country is the well known Fynbos Biome and the Garden Route.
The country has three main capitals: Executive: Pretoria Judicial: Bloemfontein Legislative: Cape Town
South Africa has an estimated population of 47 million people (2001 census) and is the world’s 25th largest country. The majority of the population, which is 37.2 million, is Africans. The white population is estimated at 4.4 million, the coloured population at 4.1 million and the Indian/Asian population at 1.1 million.
According to the South African Government the population consists of the following groups:
Nguni (consisting of the Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi people) Sotho-Tswana, who include the Southern, Northern and Western Sotho (Tswana people) Tsonga Venda Afrikaners English Coloured Indians
and those who have immigrated to South Africa from the rest of Africa, Europe and Asia and maintain a strong cultural identity.
A few remaining members of the Khoi and the San also live in South Africa. According to wikipedia.org, in the South African context the term Coloured refers to a heterogeneous group of people who possess some degree of sub-Saharan ancestry, but not enough to be considered Black under South African law. Other terms used for this culture is “Bruinmense, Kleurlinge or Bruin Afrikaners”. The idea of “Coloured” people developed partly to describe the complex position of those who were neither white nor members of groups that spoke African languages. The term Coloured is still widely used in South Africa. Language
According to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. 1996 (Act 108 of 1996), there are 11 official languages in South Africa. These are Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho sa Leboa, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. Although English is the mother tongue of only 8, 2% of the population, it is the language most widely understood, and the second language of the majority of South Africans. When coming to South Africa you would do business in English.
Most Coloureds speak Afrikaans while about 10% of Coloureds speak English as their mother tongue, However, virtually all Cape Town coloureds are bilingual, comfortably switching between "Kaapse taal" (a creolized dialect of Afrikaans spoken mostly in the Cape Flats, "suiwer Afrikaans" (formal Afrikaans, as taught at school), and English. Climate
South Africa is famous for its sunshine. The climate in South Africa is generally temperate. The changes between summer and winter are generally subtle, but the climate can also be very unpredictable. The rainfall is also unpredictable and unreliable. The Drakensberg mountains offer limited skiing opportunities in the winter. The coldest place in South Africa is called Buffelsfontein which is in the Eastern Cape and the lowest temperature which was recorded is -18.6 degrees Celsius. The hottest temperature of 51.7 degrees Celsius was recorded in 1948 in the Northern Cape Kalahari near Upington.
Link to South African Weather Service
As stated by www.southafrica.info, South Africa is a constitutional democracy system with a three-tier system of government and an independent judiciary. These include the national, provincial and local levels of government which all have legislative and executive authority in their own fields. Current South African politics are dominant by the African National Congress (ANC). The president of South Africa is President Thabo Mbeki.
Legislative authority is vested in Parliament, which is situated in Cape Town and consists of two houses, the four hundred members in the National Assembly and the ninety members in the National Council of Provinces. The National Assembly is also known as the lower house and the National Council of Provinces as the upper house.
According to Wikipedia.org, members of the lower house are elected on a population basis by proportional representation; this means that half of the members are elected from national lists and the other half from provincial lists. Ten members are elected to represent each province in the National Council of Provinces, regardless of the population of the province. Elections for both chambers are held every five years. The government is formed in the lower house, and the leader of the majority party in the National Assembly is the President.
The following state institutions were created to support constitutional democracy:
The Public Protector The Human Rights Commission The Commission for Gender Equality The Auditor-General The Electoral Commission The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities
Excerpt from Cultural Considerations by Guy Macleod
In 1994, South Africa became a democracy when all people in South Africa, irrespective of their ethnic group, culture, language or religion, participated on an equal footing to elect the first democratically elected government in the country’s history. The end of the political dominance of the majority by a minority, elitist group of white people of colonialist stock opened the doors to the massive task of levelling the playing field by removing racially-based legislation from the statute books of South Africa.
After 1994 all remaining racially based discriminatory legislation was scrapped and new legislation has steadily been introduced to ensure that past inequities and imbalances, in the workplace especially, are rapidly corrected. This legislation includes, for example:
The Labour Relations Act (LRA), 1995, which covers all employees except the National Defence Force and aims to promote orderly collective bargaining. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997, which sets out new minimum employment standards for most people employed in the private sector. The Employment Equity Act, 1998, which aims to remove unfair discrimination by establishing fair employment practices and to implement affirmative action to advance all people that were previously discriminated against on the grounds of colour, gender and physical capability. The Prevention and Prohibition of Unfair dismissal Act, 1999, which outlaws racism and all forms of discrimination.
Whilst the new South Africa, aided by legislation, is rapidly unfolding in the workplace, socially based attitudes and norms will take longer to adjust to the realities of a non-racial, democratic South Africa; norms and behaviour never do change quickly.
SA Parliaments information on the Employment Equity Act, 1998
To provide for employment equity; and to provide for matters incidental thereto. Recognising;
that as a result of apartheid and other discriminatory laws and practices, there are disparities in employment, occupation and income within the national labour market; and that those disparities create such pronounced disadvantages for certain categories of people that they cannot be redressed simply by repealing discriminatory laws,
Therefore, in order to; promote the constitutional right of equality and the exercise of true democracy; eliminate unfair discrimination in employment; ensure the implementation of employment equity to redress the effects of discrimination; achieve a diverse workforce broadly representative of our people; promote economic development and efficiency in the workforce and give effect to the obligations of the Republic as a member of the International Labour Organisation.
Prohibition of Unfair Discrimination
Elimination of unfair discrimination. Every employer must take steps to promote equal opportunity in the workplace by eliminating unfair discrimination in any employment policy or practice.
Prohibition of unfair discrimination. No person may unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against an employee, in any employment policy or practice, on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language and birth.
According to the article, Economy of South Africa, South Africa is classified as a middle-income country with an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors. South Africa has a stock exchange (the JSE-Johannesburg Securities Exchange), that ranks among the top twenty in the world, and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. The country is ranked 57th in the world in terms of per capita GDP, corrected for purchasing power parity. South Africa is also the continent’s largest energy producer and consumer.
The development of South Africa is localised around four economic centers, namely Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Johannesburg/Pretoria. The vast majority of South Africans are poor, but marginal areas are experiencing rapid growth. South Africa has one of the highest rates of various incomes in the world.
Export Cargo: Gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment.
Import Cargo: Machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments and foodstuffs.
Agricultural Products: Corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool and dairy products.
The currency used in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR) It has been said that the rand is the world’s most actively-traded emerging market currency. According to the Bloomberg Currency Scorecard, the South African Rand was the best-performing currency against the United States dollar between 2002 and 2005. Frequent used coins in South Africa are the 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, R5 and notes are the R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200.
Travellers visiting South Africa, for up to 90 days, from Australia. New Zealand, Canada, Japan, the USA and the European Union have no need for VISA’S. Traveller’s cheques are the safest way to carry money around. Visa, American Express and Diner’s Club credit cards are acceptable in most places in South Africa.
Foreign tourists visiting South Africa can have their value-added tax (VAT) refunded, provided the value of the items purchased exceeds R20. VAT is refunded on departure at the point of exit. South Africa’s transport infrastructure – airlines, railroads, roads, luxury touring buses (coaches) and motor cars – is such that tourists can travel comfortably and quickly from their port of entry to any part of the country.
South African Currency Converter
According to studies done by countrystudies.us/south-africa/52.htm Christians form 79.7 % of the South African population, according to the 2001 national census.
This is divided into the following groups:
11.1% Zion Christian 8.2% Pentecostal (Charismatic) 7.1% Catholic Methodist 6.7% Dutch Reformed 3.8% Anglican 36% Other Christian
The rest of the population is 1.5% Islam, 1.3% Hinduism, 15.1% had no religious affiliation, 2.3% is other and 1.4% is unspecified. According to research, many South African Muslims, particularly in the Western Cape, are described as coloureds.
Attitudes toward religion and religious beliefs vary widely in the country. During the twentieth century, the government of South Africa has actively encouraged specific Christian beliefs, but the country has never had an official state religion or any important government prohibition regarding religious beliefs.
Every traveller to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport and, where necessary, a visa. The following information is from info.gov.za
South Africa offers extreme scenic beauty, diverse wildlife, a variety of cultures and traditions as well wonderful outdoors for sport and other adventure activities.
Tourism is South Africa’s fastest-growing industry and contributes about 7,1% of GDP. In 2005, international tourism to South Africa surged to new record levels, with 10,3% more foreigners visiting the country in 2005 than in 2004, according to Statistics in SA. Some 7,4 million people from other countries visited South Africa in 2005, compared with 6,7 million in 2004, which was a new record at the time. Tourism continues to make a significant contribution to job creation, with employment in the tourism sector increasing to 539 017 in 2005. The fastest-growing segment of tourism in South Africa is ecological tourism (ecotourism), which includes nature photography, birdwatching, botanical studies, snorkelling, hiking and mountaineering. Community tourism is becoming increasingly popular, with tourists wanting to experience South Africa’s rural villages and townships.
Visitors who intend travelling to South Africa’s neighbouring countries and back into South Africa are advised to apply for multiple-entry visas. Passport-holders of certain countries are exempt from visa requirements. Tourists must satisfy immigration officers that they have the means to support themselves during their stay and that they are in possession of return or onward tickets. They must also have valid international health certificates.
The top 10 tourist attractions in South Africa are:
Kruger National Park Table Mountain Garden route Cape Town’s Victoria and Albert Waterfront Robben Island Beaches Sun City Cultural Villages Soweto The Cradle of Humankind
For more information you can visit: http://www.info.gov.za/aboutsa/tourism.htm
Public roads are well developed and well sign-posted with driving done on the left. Drivers must have an international driver's license and a minimum of 5 years' experience. This is probably the best way to see the country.
An International Driving Permit is not compulsory, however, according to the Automobile Association (AA) the international drivers licence assists foreign motorists - particularly in the event of an accident where insurance claims will be handled. It is a legal document, which endorses the licence. British visitors who are planning to drive in South Africa should check with the AA or RAC prior to departure that they have all the correct documentation.
There are frequent direct and indirect flights by numerous major airlines from destinations throughout Europe and North America.
Approximate flight times: From Cape Town to London is 12 hours 35 minutes, from Durban is 14 hours and from Johannesburg is 11 hours 50 minutes. From Johannesburg to Los Angeles is 23 hours (no direct flight available, but this may change so check with your local travel bureau).
International airports: Cape Town (CPT) (Cape Town International), 22km (14 miles) east of the city (travel time – 25 minutes). Airport facilities include outgoing duty-free shop, car hire, bank/bureau de change (0830-1630 Monday to Friday, 0830-1200 Saturday) and restaurant/bar (0600-0305). Inter-Cape buses meet all incoming and outgoing flights. Courtesy buses are operated by some hotels. Taxis are available, with a surcharge after 2300.
Bloemfontein (BFN) (Bloemfontein International), 10km (6 miles) east of the city (travel time – 15 minutes). Airport facilities include automatic teller machine, restaurants, car hire and conference facilities. Airport shuttle bus to the city centre (leaving from outside the airport building). Taxis are also available.
Durban (DUR) (Durban International), 16km (10 miles) south of the city (travel time – 20 minutes). Airport facilities include outgoing duty-free shop, car hire, bank/bureau de change and bar/restaurant. Airport buses and taxis are available to the city.
Johannesburg (JNB) (Johannesburg International), 24km (15 miles) northeast of the city (travel time – 35 minutes). Airport facilities include incoming and outgoing duty-free shops, post office, car hire, bank/bureau de change (24 hours), restaurant and bar (1000-2400). Bus services to Pretoria and Johannesburg are available. Buses link Kempton Park with Johannesburg. Taxis are available. Courtesy coaches are operated by some major hotels.
Port Elizabeth (PLZ) (Port Elizabeth International) is 25km (16 miles) from the city (travel time – 30 minutes). Airport facilities include Nedbank automated teller machine, conference facilities, information desk (0600-2200 Monday to Friday; 0700-2100 Saturday; 0800-2210 Sunday) restaurants and pubs, shops, a pharmacy, postal services, car hire. Airport shuttle bus to the main international hotels in Port Elizabeth. Taxis are also available.
Nelspruit (KMIA) (Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport) is 22km (14 miles) from Nelspruit, 44km (28 miles) from the Numbi Entrance Gate of Kruger Park and within close vicinity of the major game lodges in the area. Recently opened, the airport facilities are created over a period of time. Transfers to private lodges can be arranged. Local Transport
Daily flights link Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, East London, Kimberley, Nelspruit, Upington and Bloemfontein with other connecting flights to provincial towns. South African Airways operates on the principal routes.
Starlight Cruises offers links between major ports.
The principal intercity services are as follows: The Blue Train is a luxury express between Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town (every other day); The Trans-Oranje between Cape Town and Durban via Kimberley and Bloemfontein (weekly); and the Trans-Natal Express between Durban and Johannesburg (daily). Rovos Rail offers luxury steam safaris to Mpumalanga and the Garden Route. All long-distance trains are equipped with sleeping compartments, included in fares, and most have restaurant cars. Reservations are recommended for principal trains and all overnight journeys. There are frequent local trains in the Cape Town and Pretoria /Johannesburg urban areas. All trains have first- and second-class accommodation. Children under two years of age travel free. Children aged 2-11 pay half fare.
There is a well-maintained network of roads and motorways in populous regions. Traffic drives on the left. Fines for speeding are very heavy. It is illegal to carry petrol other than in built-in petrol tanks. Petrol stations are usually open all week 0700-1900. Some are open 24 hours.
Various operators, such as Greyhound and Translux, run intercity express links using modern air-conditioned coaches. On many of the intercity routes passengers may break their journey at any scheduled stop en route by prior arrangement at time of booking and continue on a subsequent coach at no extra cost other than for additional accommodation.
Available throughout the country, at all towns, hotels and airports, with rates for distance and time. For long-distance travel, a quotation should be sought.
Self-drive and chauffeur-driven cars are available at most airports and in major city centres. Avis, Imperial and Budget are represented nationwide.
There are bus and suburban rail networks in all the main towns. Fares in Cape Town and Johannesburg are zonal, with payment in cash or with 10-ride pre-purchase 'clip cards' from kiosks. In Pretoria there are various pre-purchase ticket systems, including a cheap pass for off-peak travel only. Conventional buses and taxis face stiff competition from minibuses and combi-taxis (both legal and illegal), which are also found in other South African towns. These, although cheap and very fast, should be used with care. For ordinary taxis, fares within the city areas are more expensive than long distances. Taxis do not cruise and must be called from a rank. Taxi drivers expect a 10% tip.
"I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter: I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended."
Nelson Mandela - Long Walk to Freedom
South Africa’s school vacation times often influence business as families go away at these times for their annual holiday. The most popular times for holidays are over Christmas and over Easter. School vacations are divided into four terms. Schools in the coastal provinces and those in the inland provinces close on slightly different dates. There are twelve public holidays in a year and if the public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is automatically seen as a public holiday. The majority of retail businesses are usually open on public holidays, because they can’t afford to be closed or lose business, except on Christmas Day and Day of Goodwill. Most other businesses, except for those working on a skeleton staff, shut down between mid-December to mid-January. Also try to avoid wanting to do business the week before Easter, and possibly major Jewish holidays, since Johannesburg has a sizeable Jewish community.
The Public Holidays are as follows:
1 January – New Year’s Day
21 March – Human Rights Day
21 March – Good Friday (Friday before Easter Sunday)
24 March – Family Day (Monday after Easter Sunday)
27 April – Freedom Day
1 May – Workers Day
16 June – Youth Day
9 August – National Women’s Day
24 September – Heritage Day
16 December – Day of Reconciliation
25 December – Christmas Day
26 December – Day of Goodwill
A normal workday in South Africa starts between 7h30 and 8h00 and ends between 16h30 and 17h00, however a lot of South Africans work overtime. Lunch hour is usually between 30 minutes to an hour, but it depends on the policy of the company and may differ.
When dealing with a company in South Africa, ensure that they know your status in terms of hierarchy in your company, and in return ensure that you understand the status of the people you are dealing with as well. You can hand over a business card when meeting for the first time. This will avoid embarrassment for the people you deal with.
Ensure that the appointment you make is really necessary and give at least one week’s notice of the meeting. Be punctual, preferably 5 minutes early, for the meeting. You can also confirm the day before if you wish.
Banking Hours in South Africa
Banking hours in South Africa is as follows:
Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 15:30 Saturday 08:30 to 11:00
Automated teller machines (ATM's) are situated in all towns and shopping centres and are available 24-hours a day.
Postal Service in South Africa
These services are available in all cities, towns and country areas. The hours are:
Weekdays - 08:30 to 16:30 Saturday - 08:00 to 12:00
Speed services offer 24-hour deliveries.
Guidelines for business dress
Functions are a given aspect of all businesses, and they can range from a black-tie affair to a simple, casual after work cocktail party. Create a good impression by dressing well for your clients and co-workers because people always remember “first impressions.”
Always dress according to the dress code stated in the invitation. For a business meeting, it is safer to wear more conservative clothes. Ladies should not wear short skirts and open blouses. A well pressed suit with a collar blouse and high heels will do the trick. Men can’t go wrong with a collar and tie.
The African culture dress code is mainly western in business centres but be aware of the dress code of the company and profession in which you are working.
In the Muslim culture, men wear fez or a white skull cap. Their heads must be covered for prayer. Muslim woman’s dress is modern but their heads are usually covered in public.
Welcome topics of conversation
There is not much small talk in business and it is not acceptable if people are too loud.
You can expect a traditional African person not to look you in the eye when having a conversation. This must be seen as sign of respect and not that of arrogance.
As businessmen, show respect for the women and always treat them in a businesslike, professional manner. Avoid outbursts of chauvinism. Do not make suggestive jokes and comments.
Cellphones have become part of our lives and are an essential business tool. Using your cellphone incorrectly and at the wrong times will show disrespect to the people in your presence. This etiquette is not unique to South Africa but rather a sign of common courtesy in all countries. Take note of the following cellphone etiquette:
Always switch off your phone in the following situations:
Meal with clients
Meal with friends
Seminars and Conferences
If you are forced to take a call in a public area, keep your voice down and the conversation short. Do not disturb the surrounding people. They do not need to hear your conversation. If possible, rather move away to an area where you can be private.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you are forced to take an emergency call, keep it short and to the point. This is not the time to share a joke or discuss the family. Tell the caller you are in a meeting, get the urgent message from them, and end the call. It is then polite to apologise for the interruption and continue the meeting at hand.
When in the company of people and your cell phone rings, excuse yourself and move away to a private area to take the call.
Respond to messages left on your answering service as soon as possible.
Use hands-free equipment when driving. Otherwise do not take the call. You should never take your hands off the steering wheel to make or take a call on your cell phone.
When you call someone on his cell phone, ask whether it is convenient for that person to talk.
Appropriate level of formality
If people are of equal status, it is easier to become informal and call each other by first names. A junior person, however, should adopt the level of formality dictated by the senior person, e.g. if the MD of the company calls you (the junior) Mr Jones, you will know to call him Mr Smith; if the MD of the company addresses you (the junior), John, you will still call him Mr Smith unless he invites you to use his first name.
Understanding the hierarchy of a company will help you make the most of the communication and decision-making processes. To bypass a level of seniority in order to get a decision passed is unacceptable behaviour.
If you want to make an impression, a firm handshake is an important gesture of communication for any person, male or female.
Selecting and presenting an appropriate business gift
A small gift for your business associate or their families will be greatly appreciated after you have developed a good business relationship with them. Personalised gifts like desk accessories or a high quality pen are a good idea for a gift. You should always arrive at a dinner party with a gift. Flowers, chocolates or a bottle of wine will be appreciated. Larger organisations will offer to send a driver to your hotel to pick you up or take you back afterwards. If possible, sit in the back seat. You are not required to tip the driver, but a small gift such as a company pen will be appreciated.
Let’s Make a Deal!
South Africa forms part of an international community and, especially in business, follows acceptable etiquette that will not offend or discriminate against other parties regardless of race, gender, culture and religion. By the same token we all need to learn to be tolerant if people inadvertently follow incorrect etiquette in this regard, when dealing with us. This is mostly due to a lack of knowledge and can often be addressed in a way that will lead to better understanding and relationships.
Greeting and Meeting
White culture is often referred to as a Western culture and is often characterised by people with English as their mother tongue in both South Africa and internationally. Western culture is often defined by peoples need to be recognised as individuals and not as part of a group. Greetings between strangers are polite but restrained and reserved. Strangers often don’t greet. There is not much small talk in business and it is not acceptable if people are too loud. Punctuality is very important and completing a task is often considered more important than social niceties.
In the African culture meetings and greetings are very sociable and friendly. You will be expected to greet everyone at the meeting and respect those in authority. African men traditionally remain seated when being introduced. You can expect a traditional African person not to look you in the eye when having a conversation. This must be seen as sign of respect and not that of arrogance. In traditional societies time keeping is not as important as socialising. Arriving late is not considered bad manners but leaving early might be. These cultures usually speak very loud as a sign that there are no secrets between themselves.
The Muslim cultures have much in common with the Western and Communal cultures. Do not schedule meetings with this culture in their prayer time and also don’t interrupt prayer times. A conversation between Muslim people is generally quieter and physical contact is frowned upon in public. South African Muslims are regarded as punctual but traditionally events and time are regarded as being controlled by God. Avoid business meetings on Fridays.
Formal Business Meetings
At a formal business meeting there is always a chairperson, agenda and minutes from the previous meeting. The chairperson could be either a male or a female. When you want to speak, you must first address your comments through ‘the chair’. You will be expected to ask for permission before you can speak. Do not do your own thing or become irritated. It is up to the chairperson to open and close a subject at a business meeting.
In a business environment, especially in the cities, the Western handshake is more common. The handshake is firm and the two people who meet maintain eye contact during the handshake.
The traditional African culture has a soft, fingertip handshake for friendliness. Woman may bend their knees showing respect, and both men and women may touch their elbow with the other hand. A modern African handshake indicates cross cultural friendliness and acceptance. This handshake is basically a standard western handshake alternated with gripping of the thumb, and then again the standard western handshake (basically 3 movements).
The Muslim Culture usually has a soft western style handshake and traditionally a man should not extend his hands out to a Muslim woman, but a woman can do so with a man. Don’t use your left hand to greet someone, this hand is seen as “unclean”.
Hindu culture is traditionally a communal culture background and is influenced by the Western culture. These cultures’ handshake is mostly the Western handshake. The traditional Indian woman greets you by putting the palms of her hands together with a slight bow, instead of a handshake.
As a businesswoman always ensure to keep your distance and be professional with businessmen. Never be overly friendly as this can create the wrong impression. If businessmen opened a door for a lady or let them through a door first, they should be thanked politely.
As businessmen, show respect for the women and always treat them in a businesslike, professional manner. Avoid outbursts of chauvinism. Do not make suggestive jokes and comments. At a meeting or network function it is always wise to have your business cards at hand. Business cards have no formal protocol in South Africa. Network functions are used by men and women to make valuable business connections. Do not rush deals. South Africans are very casual in their business dealings. South African’s prefer a “win-win” situation when making deals. Information on company deals, finances, staff information, etc should at all times be treated as confidential.
In South Africa a business meal can take place at any time of the day. Breakfast is very popular for business meetings and this usually takes place between 07h00 and 08h00, before the working day starts. The normal “lunch hour” within business is considered to be between 13h00 and 14h00, but the business lunch usually takes place from between 12:30 and 13h00.
Alcohol consumption in moderation is considered acceptable in South Africa, but the guests should always wait for alcohol to be ordered by the host/ hostess first. Drinks after work are also very popular with business people along with having socially acceptable eating and drinking habits. Business dinners are more formal than the breakfast and lunches and tend to be longer. These take place after working hours, and can either be at restaurants or at the host’s home. Cell phones and pagers should be turned off.
It is not uncommon for Africans and Muslims to eat with their hands as it is their culture, but this is rare in a business environment. Muslims only eat Halaal food and do not consume alcohol.
In SA a 10-15% service fee is standard practice and expected, although it also depends on the service received. If a waiter went out of his or her way to make you feel special, and gave excellent service, it is up to you to tip more. Some people also tip in order to ensure continued good service. Hotels:
Bellhops should be tipped for each bag they carry. You can ask the hotel receptionist/concierge what the going rate is but in SA it is currently in the region of R5- per bag. You can also tip the maid/housekeeper. It is not necessary to tip the doorman or desk clerk, unless they did something out of the ordinary that you really appreciated. Delivery people should also be tipped. You should tip shuttle drivers at the airport if they helped you with your bags. Tour guides should also be tipped. Although a fading practice, it is still appropriate to tip petrol station attendants as well. Also tip someone if they looked after your car when you park in a public place or shopping mall. You do not have to tip restaurant and salon owners, but do tip the service providers including the people who wash your hair in a salon.
Colleagues or Business Associates Funerals
Such funerals should get preference over all other business commitments.
The company should send a wreath or bouquet to the family, or a donation to a chosen charity organization.
A letter of condolence must be sent to the next of kin; this should be personally signed by the most senior person the deceased dealt with in the company.
Should it be a colleague from another company that passed away, a letter of condolence must be sent to the deceased person’s company.
If you represent your company at the funeral of a deceased colleague, be sure to sympathize personally with the bereaved family.
Ensure that you know and understand the procedures of funerals if the deceased is from a different culture. If you are unsure then ask someone.
Ensure that your behaviour is above reproach and do not ruin your reputation, even though this is an out-of-the-office event.
Dress according to the event and the invitations dress code.
If you attend the wedding of a different culture, be prepared and know what to expect. Ask if you are unsure.
Gifts and cards do not need to be expensive, but must be tasteful and useful. Try and find out whether the couple has a gift list. It is becoming acceptable to give a monetary gift of a gift voucher.
In South Africa conferences are often held at the end of the financial year. This is done so that new products or services can be discussed, as well as the performance for the year and upcoming company goals.
This word is Afrikaans for “a counsel in the bush,” and literally involves a specific group of people spending time together in a rural venue, such as a wildlife retreat. This is very popular amongst senior business people that break away from the office to discuss strategies and issues.
Workshops have a shorter duration than conferences and bosberade, and are usually held onsite, rather than away from the company. Workshops provide an interactive way of learning, as they require the audience’s participation as the day progresses.
DO’S AND DONT'S FOR WORKSHOPS, BOSBERADE AND CONFERENCES
Personal Contact, Conversation and Table Manner etiquettes are all important and still need to be remembered during the above three mentioned functions
Dress codes are usually casual, or informal, with no eccentric colors or styles
By attending these types of events you will have an opportunity for relationship building, and by not attending them (even for family reasons) you could potentially damage your career. Rather take leave if you can’t attend.
If you attend such an event, be prepared to get involved in fun games and icebreakers. Functions such as workshops, conferences and bosberade take time to arrange, and they will ultimately be a good team building exercise for those involved.
The usual, acceptable behaviour, still applies to these events, even though they are less formal in nature.