How LGBT affirming is the South African workplace?


For the first time ever, South African companies are set to be rated on how supportive and welcoming they are to LGBT+ employees.

The South African LGBT+ Management Forum will launch the inaugural South African Workplace Equality Index (SAWEI) on 17 May 2018, coinciding with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

The Forum is calling on all South African companies and international companies with a presence in South Africa to participate in the SAWEI.

The index will be the preeminent benchmark against which employers in South Africa can measure their levels of LGBT+ inclusiveness.

It will reveal to what extent participating companies have policies and procedures that support LGBT+ staff and their families and offer working environments that are inclusive and free of discrimination.

The concept of a workplace equality index has been implemented internationally and similar benchmarks have made measurable impact on workplaces in Canada, the USA, UK, Hong Kong and Australia. This is the first of its kind in the Africa-Middle East region.

In addition to helping improve the lives of their employees, these kinds of indexes are also used by companies internationally as a means to attract top LGBT+ talent to their workforce.

Some of the companies that have already signed up to take part in the South African index and become sponsors of The Forum include IBM South Africa, Thomson Reuters, Shell, PWC and others.

“Creating inclusive work environments not only impacts the lives of LGBT+ people in the workplace but it also helps foster a more diverse and inclusive environment for all employees,” said Forum Chairperson Dylan van Vurren. “A change in attitudes and acceptance in the workplace not only positively affects business results but also has the potential to create wider positive societal change.”

The Forum has also announced the appointment of the advisory panel that will oversee the process and moderate the results of the index.

It includes Xhanti Payi, an economist and founder of Nascence Advisory and Research and the Chairperson of The Other Foundation; Tracy-Lynn Humby, a Professor in Law at the Wits School of Law, focusing on creating an inclusive, environment sustainable and diverse economy; Keval Harie, Director of Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action Trust (GALA) and a qualified attorney; Juan Nel, a clinical and research psychologist and a research Professor at Unisa.

To support companies in their journey to creating more LGBT+ inclusive workplaces, the Forum has identified best practice, within a local context, that looks at both policy structures of a company and behavioural elements that embody inclusivity. It provides an easy-to-understand, comprehensive framework for companies and can be applied to all forms of diversity and inclusion in South Africa. To learn more about the framework for the index please click here (PDF).

“We encourage and call upon all companies who consider inclusion and equality core principles of their values, to support The Forum’s work through getting involved in the SAWEI or becoming a sponsor,” said SAWEI Project Coordinator and Forum Director Luke Andrews. “Both processes move the company’s dial towards embodying our national imperatives articulated in the Constitution and ensuring a diverse, equal and thriving workplace.”

The Forum was launched in October last year and aims to create an inclusive, safe and equitable workplace environment for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

To participate please contact the Project Coordinator at or on 081 328 5757.

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