Commitment to gender diversity and workplace inclusivity is a business imperative

Gender diversity and inclusivity has long been a topic of contention in the workplace. Its reach however, extends beyond issues merely related to an employee’s race and gender, and is now mindful of a person’s individuality, taking into account their personal preferences and how they identify in society.

Statistically, The LGBT community has been seen as one of the most discriminated against demographics, and although positive strides have been achieved as of late - in both marriage rights and employment equality - there are still major milestones to achieve in order to attain equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation.

A number of organisations are making this a company priority, showcasing diversity and acceptance of employees regardless of preferences. As such, it has been more than a year since global law firm, Hogan Lovells, implemented its Pride+ initiative, aimed at enhancing support for and commitment to LGBT individuals.

Expanding on a number of internal LGBT systems across the Hogan Lovells global network, Pride+ will further promote equality across all 23 countries in which the firm operates, promoting a culture of acceptance and understanding in the workplace.

The issue of diversity and inclusion extends beyond LGBT+ issues, with a particular focus on supporting females in senior leadership roles. According to insights by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) census on women in leadership, a mere 22% of board directors are female, while a staggeringly low 7% fill executive directorship roles. Further, as per the BWASA census, only 10% of South African CEOs are women, and if we look solely at companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), this number drops to a lowly 2.2%

As a company, Hogan Lovells maximises on its mandate for workplace inclusivity, spearheading a number of forums in which to encourage employee engagement which ultimately imparts greater access to wellbeing. Current programmes include six active employee networks, namely Hogan Lovells Pride; 50:50 (Gender) Network; Multicultural Network; Working Families Network; Disability and Wellbeing Network; and the StepUp Network for trainees, associates, and senior associates.

Presenting at the 5th annual Talent Agenda Series hosted at the Hogan Lovells Johannesburg office, Jean Ewang, attorney and partner at the firm, will reiterate the company’s stance on LGBT+ and workplace inclusivity matters, as well as offering advice to industries on how to ensure inclusion as a prime business purpose. 

As the leading human capital platform, the Talent Agenda Series aims to bring HR and business leaders together across each region in Africa to tackle talent management and capacity development challenges.

As a seasoned advocate specialising in employment law, Ewang’s expertise will cover a number of pertinent topics surrounding the issue of diversity and workplace inclusivity, including sexual harassment as unfair discrimination and as a barrier to female senior leadership representation in South Africa. 

Moreover, Ewang will discuss how gender diversity programmes constitute a business imperative and are ultimately critical to compliance with legislative requirements for the Southern African workforce. Further discussions will highlight issues on how inclusiveness will enable companies to gain enhanced insights into what customers want in addition to driving creative thinking. Additionally, this model lends itself to how inclusiveness will maximise the talent pool and ultimately grow the bottom line.  

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