Here are the best companies for LGBTI+ people in South Africa

The Other Foundation’s Neville Gabriel

The results of South Africa’s first LGBTI+ Workplace Equality Index (SAWEI) have been released, rating the most inclusive companies in the country to work for.

The SAWEI aims to measure how well companies are performing with regard to LGBTI+ inclusion in the workplace, and to identify potential gaps and areas of improvement.

The index is a first for South Africa and the region and espouses the ethos that a safe, inclusive and welcoming working environment is good for both LGBTI+ employees and their companies.

This year, a total of 17 trailblazing companies representing six different sectors and employing over 30,000 people took part in the SAWEI survey.

Of these, two companies were awarded the top gold tiering, seven were silver tiered and four were bronze tiered. The leading tiered companies included Bain & Company and Shell, who were awarded Gold, and EY, Thomson Reuters, P&G, PWC and Deloitte, who were rated silver.

The index was spearheaded by the South African LGBT+ Management Forum (The Forum) and the results were launched at a gala event in Sandton on Tuesday, in partnership with The Other Foundation and the PLUS Business Network.

“This was the first year that we brought the concept of a corporate LGBTI+ benchmark to South Africa and we want to thank those forward-thinking companies that put their hands up to participate,” commented Luke Andrews, SAWEI Coordinator and Director at The Forum. “Without their vision and eager participation, it would not have been possible. Over a year and a half of preparation has gone into launching the SAWEI, led by a dedicated team managing the project in their free time, and we hope the hard work has paid off,” he said.

According to the index, 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”.

The greatest divergence in SAWEI scores occurred with regards to inclusion of LGBTI+ within Employment Equity (EE) forums, with only around half including LGBTI+ and sexual orientation in the mandate of EE representatives, despite discrimination against sexual orientation being addressed in the Employment Equity Act.

The SAWEI is based on highly successful predecessors in the UK, US, Australia and Canada, and there are expectations that it will be just as impactful on employees and workplaces across South Africa.

The team behind the SAWEI acknowledged, however, that the inaugural index is focused on corporations in the larger cities, many of which are multinationals. They hope to in future get the buy-in of other companies in other industries and from other regions in South Africa.

Luke Andrews, SAWEI Coordinator

“The impact for us needs to go beyond Sandton and head offices; it needs to go through to the shop floors, it needs to go to the mine shafts, it needs to go through to the regional branches,” said Farai Morobane, Head of Communications for The Forum, at the launch.

Neville Gabriel, The Other Foundation’s CEO, told the audience that he hopes that the SAWEI will play a role to “not just benefit current employees in companies…” but also a new generation of “young, mostly black, processionals entering the workplace in companies, many of whom come from far-flung parts of our country.”

Andrews added: “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. This alone means that LGBTI+ inclusion makes good business sense.”

You can download the full SAWEI report here.

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