South Africa’s first workplace equality index highlights key issues for LGBTI+ people

12 Sep 2018

Ujuh Reporter

The first set of findings of the South African Workplace Equality Index (SAWEI), that measures the friendliness of the country’s workplaces to LGBTI+ people is led by a list of six companies that include Bain & Company, Shell, EY, Thomson Reuters, P&G, PWC and Deloitte.

A total of 17 companies representing six different sectors and employing more than 30, 000 people participated in the first SAWEI survey. Of these, two companies were awarded the top gold tiering which is a great achievement, seven companies were silver tiered and four were bronze tiered.

The SAWEI Index initiatives is undertaken by the South African LGBT+ Management.

Their key observations from the survey include the following:

  • Nearly all participating companies have policies in place prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation along with other elements such as race, language and gender; however very few have provision for “gender identity” – a more trans inclusive definition
  • All participants have a member of staff working on diversity and inclusion, of these under half of these staff members sit in South Africa and have LGBTI+ as part of their mandate
  • All participants reported a variety of routes open to employees to report harassment; the most common reporting route is the HR line manager and an employee network
  • The majority of participants have an LGBTI+ employee network or affinity group
  • The greatest divergence in SAWEI scores occurred with regards to inclusion of LGBTI+ within Employment Equity (EE) forums, with roughly half of respondents stating that the mandate of EE representatives includes LGBTI+ and sexual orientation, despite discrimination against sexual orientation being addressed in the Employment Equity Act.

The forum added that evidence highlighted some great work that companies are doing on diversity and inclusion in South Africa. It has shown the importance of addressing specific issues facing LGBTI+ people in the workplace and how this can be done through existing programmes that currently address just gender and racial transformation. In fact, integrated diversity or transformation programmes are more likely to be successful than fragmented ones.

SAWEI Coordinator and Director at The Forum, Luke Andrews said  LGBTI+ inclusion makes good business sense. “When LGBTI+ people are able to bring their true selves to work, this makes them happier, more productive and less likely to leave a company.”

 The SAWEI plans to expand its reach to include more companies next year. The SAWEI is following the footsteops of international counterparts in the UK, US, Australia and Canada.

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