Building greater diversity among its staff and expanding its knowledge base to strengthen its position as Africa's top research university represent two of SU's four strategic focus areas. However, these objectives will not materialise if the University does not recruit, develop and retain talented black academics and researchers. SU intends to increase its percentage of black (black, coloured and Indian) staff to 53% by 2015. In 2009, this percentage was at 38,4%, and had grown to 40,97% by 2012.
One of the ways to achieve this goal is through the Legacy project, an initiative aimed at increasing the funding available for senior appointments in the humanities and social sciences. Funding from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, along with a significant amount appropriated by the University Council, is used to build a more diverse staff complement. This provides for the strategic recruitment, development, remuneration and mentorship of black staff members in those University spheres where they are currently underrepresented.
Young academics in the social sciences also receive financial assistance to obtain their doctorates as part of the Mellon Academic Staff (MACS) Development Programme.
In addition to the Legacy project, the University offers the PLUS programme, a professional year-long internship for administrative and support staff. Staff members are afforded the opportunity to obtain a formal qualification, thereby progressing to a higher job level. The programme is in line with the objectives of the National Skills Development Strategy, and most participants are from designated groups.
Each environment also drafts personnel plans, inter alia covering the promotion of diversity.