South Africa’s First Workplace Equality Index Identifies the Leading Companies for LGBTI+ People in South Africa

  • Created : Sep, 11, 2018
  • Last Updated: Sep, 18, 2018

For many LGBTI+ people, the workplace should be a place of safety and diversity, however, levels of discrimination and prejudice still exist. Despite the importance and benefits of ensuring LGBTI+ inclusion in the workplace, companies in South Africa have never had the means to measure how well they are performing and to identify potential gaps and areas of improvement. For the first time in South Africa and in the region, the South African Workplace Equality Index (SAWEI) provides companies in South Africa with a means to measure their progress against independently determined and research-based best practice.

This year, a total of 17 trailblazing companies representing six different sectors and employing over 30, 000 people completed SAWEI submissions. 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 leading tiered companies include Bain & Company, EY, Thomson Reuters, P&G, PWC, Deloitte and Shell.

Some key observations from the Index include:

  • 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.
  • Download the full report here to download.

The 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: “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. 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. 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”

The SAWEI plans to expand its reach to include more companies next year and will continue to set the standards for LGBTI+ inclusion in the workplace. The SAWEI is based on highly successful predecessors in the UK, US, Hong Kong, Australia and Canada, and there are high expectations that the SAWEI will be just as impactful on employees and workplaces across South Africa

The South African LGBT+ Management Forum (The Forum) is spearheading the Index and hosting a gala event on Tuesday 11th September 2018 in partnership with The Other Foundation - who are a key funder and strategic partner of The Forum - and PLUS Business Network to announce the results of the 2018 SAWEI with participating companies.


For more information about this year’s Index, contact or visit here to download the full results report.

For media enquiries please contact Farai Morobane at:

(+27) 79 506 5126