Johannesburg - Bringing people from different genders and backgrounds together in a fair and equal manner alleviates animosity within the workplace and promotes a healthier working environment.
This was according to Regent Business School alumnus, Thireshen Sannah, who co-hosted a webinar this week on gender disparities within the workplace.
And as Women’s Month drew to a close, the second-year BCom student stressed that diversity and inclusion within the workplace was vital for a company to be successful and for the economy to improve.
“Companies can thrive if both men and women are able to contribute equally which will also allow a workplace to be more creative and to become better at problem solving,” Sannah believes.
He stressed that while 80% of men in South African workplaces were at an executive level, only 5% of females were in the same position and 15% of females had a casual value at work.
“Males and females have hormonal and physical differences but they can be seen as equal when it comes to academic value,” Sannah said during the webinar.
“What Tom can do, Mary can also do and the women are simply not less intellectually or knowledgeable inclined than men.”
Sannah added that gender disparities within the workplace were not based on law, but rather on ethics and morals created by society.
“This is leading to an imbalanced system within a workplace which has cast a shadow on the diversification of employees which is becoming demotivated and less productive which in turn leads to a business not doing as well as they can.”
The Regent Business School alumnus also provided evidence of how involving employees from all walks of life and backgrounds could lead to a better working environment as well as improved business performance.
“Last year I worked at Hirsh’s and every morning would start with a meeting involving all the employees who were all invited to participate and to provide input and feedback,” Sannah said.
“This could also include prayers, affirmations and even jokes and all their stores are performing so well and I think that much of this has to do with this inclusive meeting. If this kind of activity can be incorporated into more South African businesses, I think we will see many of them performing much better.”
To combat gender disparities within the workplace, Sannah suggested making salaries transparent.
“I understand the POPI (The Protection of Personal Information) Act aims to protect the personal information and privacy of South Africa’s citizens, but I believe that salaries should be disclosed so that there is fair gender equity within workplaces and to ensure that men are not being paid more than women for doing the same or similar jobs.
“People should be paid according to titles and qualifications and not their gender.”
He also believes that many workplaces and their recruitment policies need a profound revamp.
“Promotions should be done on merit and should be based on an individual achieving something within the workplace, the amount of time they have spent at a company and the impact they are having on the environment.”
He also believes that when it comes to recruitment, a fair process should be followed.
“There should be two males and two females from different racial groups on the interview panel and any decision made in regards to recruitment should be based on merit. Men and women working together can make an organisation even more impactful and powerful,” he said.
“We all belong to one race and that is the human race and we are all extremely capable, regardless of our gender,” Sannah said.
Meanwhile, Nirmala Moodley, Regent Business School’s employability lead added on the webinar that gender disparities within the workplace were a pressing issue across the globe and not just in South Africa.
“We need to look at issues like economic disparities, the huge gender wage gap, skills and education development, political representation, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and other social and cultural practices that people are faced with in the workplace.”
Moodley also admitted that many cultures within South Africa prescribed somewhat to patriarchal systems which affect women within the workplace as well as the economic sector as a whole.
“South Africa needs to come up (with) legal policies and framework to address these gender disparities
“We need to look at changing this but from a domestic and personal level as well as in communities so we should start with ourselves, our families and our communities.”
And when it comes to manual labour which is dominated by men, Moodley believes that it is a personal choice if women want to be involved in these industries.
“It is a personal choice if women decide that they can and are willing to do work that requires physical labour and organisations should look at ways to empower these females. We also need to look at building women leadership skills and mentoring women in organisations.”
Moodley added that there should also be fairness and equality when it comes to LGBTQI individuals within an organisation.
“Like with gender disparities, certain policies need to be implemented and they need to be sustainable within an organisation.”
She stressed that while a business might have equality policies, it was vital for it to be implemented in a sustainable manner.
“If this is not done, it simply serves no purpose.”