There are few contexts where people are not confronted by differences in the workplace, in organisations and public spaces, and as an aspect of the general body politic. The challenge, therefore, is how to value what different groups may bring to the collective whole, at the same time, maintaining cohesive societies. Contemporary South Africa is no exception in facing realities such as these although the specific contours that the challenges take are obviously shaped by South Africa's history, its socioeconomic capacities, and the particular demographics that form its population. Widespread legislative reform has attempted to redress stratification along a number of axes of difference. Employment equity measures such as affirmative action which were conceptualised in countries like the USA were designed to introduce a representative number from minority groups into relatively homogenous organisations. The changes envisioned for South African organisations are of a different order in this country where the majority demographic has to be brought into the centre politically, economically, and organisationally - a fundamental transformation in processes, structures, identities and relationships. The case studies that are presented here are a reminder of this sometimes volatile transformation of South African life where new opportunities and challenges often come into conflict with old mindsets and practices.