South Africa is maintaining its status as one of the LGBT+ rights trailblazers. Its now launching an equality and diversity index that will measure and benchmark levels of LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer) in the workplace.
The inaugural South African Workplace Equality Index (SAWEI) is set to be launched today. Think of it in the terms of an employment equity index of sort. The Index will showcase and celebrate the most LGBT+ inclusive employers in South Africa.
SAWEI will recognise and benchmark best practice across corporate South Africa and identify opportunities on how businesses can improve LGBT+ diversity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond.
SAWEI is the flagship project of The South African LGBT+ Management Forum (The Forum), an entity funded by The Other Foundation.
The Forum’s Chairperson, Dylan van Vuuren, said, “South Africa should be proud of the strides we are making as a country to recognise the importance of inclusion and equality in the workplace. A generation ago, such an index would not have been possible, and this launch is indeed an historical moment for all South Africans.”
Similar benchmarks have been highly successful in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong and are a powerful tool to help companies benchmark themselves against peers and to identify areas of improvement, said Van Vuuren.
Keval Harie, director of Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action Trust (GALA) and a member of the independent SAWEI Advisory Panel; who guides and ensures the independent nature of the survey questions and results, said the launch of the index is a watershed moment. “It allows us the opportunity to firstly, measure our workplaces against our constitution and our progressive labour laws in ensuring that meaningful transformation is realised and, secondly, to provide employers and employees alike with valuable insight into ways of creating diverse and safe work spaces.”
All companies are invited to participate – free of charge – by completing a set of questions online about LGBT+ equality and inclusion in their company. They may opt to do so anonymously, or have their contribution to a fairer, more inclusive workplace publicly available.
The Forum, in collaboration with supporting large corporate companies including Procter and Gamble, EY, ABSA, Shell and Norton Rose Fulbright, will host a launch event on the 17th of May in celebration of both the launch of SAWEI and International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia IDAHOT Day.
May 17 is internationally designated as the IDAHOT Day. In preparation for this year’s IDAHOT Day, the World Bank notes that “Despite some legal and social advances in the past two decades LGBTI people continue to face widespread discrimination and violence in many countries. This leads to exclusion and adversely affects both the lives of LGBTI people as well as on the communities and economies in which they live.”