Business must treat gender diversity as a top priority

Date: 26 November 2019 | Author: Thuthuka Maseko Category: Media Statements

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has re-affirmed its commitment to support the 16 Days of Activism For No Violence Against Women and Children.
The campaign runs from 25 November to 10 December and is supported by the United Nations.
BLSA has continuously voiced its anger against violence against women and children. We are part of a campaign to find ways to make South Africa safe for all, especially for women and children.
“Together, across sectors of our society including business, we must unite towards total elimination of all forms of violence against women and children. It is only when we unite across business sector, racial divide, ethnic background, class, sexual orientation, religious beliefs that we can achieve the supreme goal of the total liberation and empowerment of women,” said BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso.
Citing sexual harassment as a thorny issue in the workplace, Mavuso highlighted that companies need to foster an environment where there’s no room for sexual harassment to take hold.
She warned that when the climate towards sexual harassment at the workplace is lenient, members feel that there are few consequences – that those who engage in sexual harassment will be protected, while those who report it will be disregarded or even penalised.
“Companies need to treat gender diversity as a top priority from setting targets to holding leaders accountable for results. It requires closing gender gaps in hiring and promotions. Companies must take bolder steps to create a respectful and inclusive culture so women in particular can feel safe and supported at work,” said Mavuso.
“This can be done through creating a culture of collaboration, teamwork, and respect and not tolerating employees who dominate or treat other employees as if they are there to serve them.”
Companies should openly encourage people to speak up when they notice a problem. Companies should also provide employees with extensive training about what constitutes sexual harassment.
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Mavuso said that despite gender being a talking point during the past 25 years, women are still far from achieving the access to positions of leadership and impact for which they strive.
“As long as being white and masculine are the gold standard for leadership and C-suite positions in South Africa, then the pace of change will be slow.” Mavuso said at the macro level, the constructs of patriarchy need to be dismantled, and at the micro level, limiting beliefs and attitudes about the abilities of women need to be overturned,” stressed Mavuso.