Global Resources

Business and Gender Equality Lessons from South Africa

Author: N. Shunmugam, L. Stott
Publisher: BRIDGE
Publication Date: Jan 2002
By promoting opportunities for women, employers improve their ability to secure quality personnel from a wider range of job applicants as well as using the different assets that both men and women bring to the workplace. More fundamentally, if business is to be sustainable in the long run, gender inequality needs to be taken more seriously. Women make up more than 50 per cent of the South African population and are key consumers, customers and clients as well as employees, spouses or partners of employees, and providers of often unpaid services in homes and communities. This study of South African businesses presents five case studies of companies' efforts to take on gender issues. Key to the success of these efforts is the espousal of organisation-wide gender equality policies, and a tackling of inequalities not just of gender, but also race, at both higher and lower levels of the company. This report sees such factors as essential to effective work on gender inequality, and underlines the need to understand that engaging with poor, marginalised groups, such as poor black African women, is actually beneficial to companies, and that business/labour partnerships must be built, including with trade unions.