Many black professionals perceive Cape Town as an unwelcoming city that is not open to black talent, says Guy Lundy, futurist and CEO of Accelerate Cape Town.
“One of the big challenges that companies face here is that it is difficult to attract black professionals. They generally speaking don’t have a great attraction to Cape Town,” he explains.
Accelerate Cape Town is a business-led initiative to develop and implement a long-term vision for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. One of the key focus areas is to attract more black talent to Cape Town.
Lundy acknowledges that Cape Town is a difficult city to break into socially. “If you are a new arrival in Cape Town with no friends, no family, nor a ready-built network, Cape Town is a very difficult place to break into. And that is not only applicable to black professionals, it is applicable to everybody. Most people who have moved to Cape Town will tell you the same thing.”
The situation is even worse for black people. “It is particularly difficult for black professionals because there is an element of race that gets mixed into that whole complexity. About 75% to 80% of the Cape Town population are coloured and white. Of the 20% to 25% that is black, about 80% to 90% are poor and about 99% of them are Xhosa speaking. So if you are a new arrival and you don’t speak Xhosa, you don’t have much desire to hang out in the townships because your peers aren’t there, and you don’t have anyone at work that is interested in inviting you around for the weekend, it is an incredibly lonely place to be. So these are some of the complex issues that contribute to why Cape Town is not seen as a greatly attractive option for black professionals,” Lundy explains.
Lundy says acknowledging the problem should be one of the first steps in addressing the issue. “I don’t know if Capetonians recognise it as a problem, because it is very easy when you are not experiencing the problem to ignore the problem. We need to recognise the fact that 80% of our country’s population don’t necessarily see Cape Town as a great career option; then we need to identify ways in which we can make it more attractive to black talent.”