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UJ, KPMG, and SVAI join forces to tackle GBV in South African workplaces

The University of Johannesburg (UJ), partnered with KPMG South Africa and the Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI) to host the gender equality event ‘Unleashing Economic Potential – Implementing Gender Equality in the Workplace’.

The event was a continuation of last year’s launch of the Gender-Based Violence Report – The Costly Impact of GBV – Private Sector Perceptions and Realities in South Africa which was led by Prof Corné Davis, Department of Strategic Communications at UJ, in collaboration with Tiekie Barnard, SVAI CEO and founder of the #ITSNOTOK movement. The research was conducted in partnership with Mid Sweden University and supported by KPMG.

UJ, KPMG, and SVAI join forces to tackle GBV in South African workplaces

The event, held on Friday, 18 August 2023, at the JSE in Sandton, launched the findings of a pilot study on employers’ readiness to deal with GBV.

The study not only investigates South African employers’ readiness, response, and relevant gaps in relation to GBV in the workplace but the respondent companies’ intention to drive change and strengthen collaboration across sectors to combat this pandemic.

“Gender-Based Violence in the workplace continues to pose a significant threat to women. Sexual harassment and assault in the professional setting disproportionately affect female employees, subjecting them to distressing and humiliating experiences,” says Ignatius Sehoole, KPMG Southern Africa CEO, and Africa Chairman.

Prof Corné Davis, Department of Strategic Communications at UJ
Prof Corné Davis, Department of Strategic Communications at UJ

Prof Davis spoke on the worsening GBV statistics that the country has.

“We’ve got some of the highest femicide rates in South Africa. The number of cases you see reported is about 7%. 93% of intimate partner GBV are never reported or prosecuted or never known. This is all coming as a consequence of inequality.”

She added: “There is  no opportunity for victims or perpetrators to come forward. That is what we need to keep in mind, perpetrators also need support. We are living in a society that cultivates perpetrators. Patriarchy is rife…we are showing it is ok to be unequal and men have certain privileges. This is why we have inequality. Unless all of us address the inequality in our homes, in our mindsets – we are not going to end GBV and it is hurting business.”

The initiative, undertaken as part of an ongoing collaboration with the SVAI, the #ItsNotOK movement, and UJ, aims to lead the way for corporate South Africa to play a key role in ending this pandemic. This ongoing study will also consider the implementation of gender equality in the workplace based on the premise of at least four of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Goals 5, 8, 10, and 17, which not only places an emphasis on issues related to gender inequality, but also brings in employers on this societal issue, and how women, who are the most affected, can be empowered.

This approach not only examines the power of workplace influence in shaping social norms but how organisations can play a crucial role in driving positive change and paving the way for a more equitable future.

The study was conducted via online surveys, focus group discussions, and interviews. 18 SA corporates participated in the pilot study – representing approximately 250 000 employees from 8 different sectors from Banking, Professional Services, Explosives, Food & Beverage, Manufacturing, Motor & Retail, Mining, and Government.

The results of the pilot that was completed in August 2023 provided consistent trends and employer insights and will inform an expanded investigation and a larger sample size that will continue during 2023.

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