Panel Discussion: Gender Equality in the workplace | EAPA-SA

Panel Discussion: Gender Equality in the Workplace

Wednesday 21 April 2021, 16:30pm – 18:30pm

Content Focus Area: Breaking the EAP mould: Traditional vs the New Normal

Commission for Gender Equality: Ms Sixolile Ngcobo


Company Name: Commission for Gender Equality

Degree or Highest Qualification: Bachelor of Social Sciences

Speaker Job Title: Gender and Sustainable Development Specialist

Biographical information related to the topic:

Sixolile Ngcobo is a seasoned gender and sustainable development Practioner and is trained in psychology and employee wellness with over 20 years’ experience, extensive knowledge and expertise in gender equality with a special focus on women’s rights and development in Africa and globally. Expert in organisational development providing executive leadership, strategic and management support to institutions focused on gender inequalities within the African social political and cultural context. Fully conversant with process and protocol of engaging with and negotiation at international, regional and national levels with a clear focus on women’s rights and gender equality.

Prior to joining the Commission for Gender Equality of South Africa in 2016 Sixolile had worked on several projects in various institutions including international, regional and local South Africa based non-governmental organisations and private sector, in her professional capacity as a Senior Manager and as the Gender and Sustainable Development Expert. Sixolile is the founder and Managing Director of The Well Health Company since 2015, a consulting firm that works with organisations to create and maintain conducive workspaces for wom_n to flourish in all their diversity and being.
Continues to have active engagement and advocacy at national, regional and international human rights mechanisms; including the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the African Union; International Aids Conference, International Conference on AIDS and Sexual Transmitted Infections in Africa and SADC Head of State Summit.

Contact Details:


Presentation Abstract: South African Laws and policies: Unpacking SOGIE rights in the world of work

The world of work as we know it is changing and yet some of the workplace practices and cultures are still informed by old ways of finding ‘a fit for an organisation’, and instilling none transformative organisation culture while research tells us that diverse workforces are a key ingredient to innovative and productive teams.

South Africa today, despite all laws and policies to address gender discrimination, many individuals continue to face discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions. Workplace discrimination in our country is a matter of public interest and it’s likely that the manifestations experienced in the workplace reflect our societal behaviours, values and beliefs.

This session is going to unpack laws and policies that aim to curb and end discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation gender identity and expressions. The session will discuss examples of how this type of discrimination manifests in the workplace and recommend practical tips and solutions on how to address this issue for both employees and employers.
Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998
Section 6 (1) of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 as amended provides that no person may unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against any employee in any employment policy or practice. Such discrimination includes race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic, or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language, birth or on any other arbitrary ground.
The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4, of 2000 (PEPUDA) prohibits unfair discrimination by the government and by private organisations and individuals and forbids hate speech and harassment.

Defines discrimination as meaning:

“any act or omission, including a policy, law, rule, practice, condition or situation which directly or indirectly:

(a) imposes burdens, obligations or disadvantage on, or

(b) withholds benefits, opportunities or advantages from any person on one or more of the prohibited grounds.”

Lessons learnt from monitoring and evaluation laws and policies for gender equality
Working both at The Well Health Company and The Commission for Gender Equality one has learnt that, real work life experience range from of the South Africa workforce include experiences such as the experiences of a transgender women and how they experience being ‘policed’ when told to ‘dress for her body’. Some workplaces do not have appropriate bathroom amenities for the needs of the diverse workforce including transgender people, just to name a few. The more you listen and observe the more one draws closer to a conclusion that laws and policies are not the only contributors in addressing deep seated levels of discrimination in the workplace, but a combination of multipronged interventions might work.

In conclusion these are some of the suggested and recommended Workplace intervention:
• Prevention pillar : organisational culture (Leadership buy-in )
• Response and Support pillar : policies and safeguard mechanisms (beyond compliance approach)
Overall Monitoring evaluation and learning (MEL: refine and implement

PATHSA Representative: Dr. Jean-Ré Jones


Company Name: PATHSA

Degree or Highest Qualification: MBChB(Stell)

Speaker Job Title: General Practitioner (Medicine)

Biographical information related to the topic:

Firstly, Dr Jones is a transgender female, and she is a professional too; hence many of the experiences relating to this topic, from the viewpoint of the trans person, Dr Jones can relate to and have personal experience herself.

Secondly, it has always been very important for me to make a difference in the lives of transgender individuals and advocate for the rights of trans people. She has a great passion for educating society on what it means to be transgender, as she finds a majority lack full understanding thereof. PATHSA provides training for healthcare professionals and also for the greater community. An integral role of PATHSA is to facilitate conversations around transgender/gender diverse health, well-being and self-actualization.

Lastly, She works with many transgender people, on an individual basis, by offering gender-affirming health care services.

Presentation Abstract: Practical advice for EAP- and HR Practitioners in terms of what they can do to make a difference

Transgender people are often confronted with discrimination, simply because of who they are. With the rise in the number transgender persons in the world and in South Africa, more incidents of transphobic attacks are reported, especially in the workplace. Therefore, it has become, increasingly necessary, to educate society on transgenderism, and emphasize ways to be more inclusive, or even how to be a transgender ally. Majority of people have a minimum understanding of what it means to be transgender; hence resulting in prejudices and preconceived notions. As EAP or HR Practitioners it is important to have active conversations with employees around this topic- so as to gauge- the general perceptions employees have, to tackle any prejudices there may be; and come up with solutions which promote inclusivity and non-discrimination.

WITS RHI Trans Health Centre: Jenna Bayer

Degree or Highest Qualification: Master’s Degree

Speaker Job Title: Counselling Psychologist and Mediator

Biographical information related to the topic:

Jenna Bayer is a Counselling Psychologist and Mediator. She has experience in the education, business, and NGO sectors as well as working with various parastatals and government departments. Jenna’s experience includes individual and group therapy, trauma and career counselling, psychometric testing, and employee wellness. She has also done psycho-educational training up to senior executive level.

She has lectured Psychology Honours students in Community and Health Psychology. She is a regular guest on radio and television stations where she talks about pertinent and topical areas of mental health. She believes strongly that mental health is a human rights issue. For example, 85% of her clients that she has helped in private practice, have been victims of gender-based violence. Because of issues like this, she has collaborated with relevant high-profile institutions in initiatives involving mental health education, addressing the stigma associated with mental health and advocating against injustices like gender-based violence.

Currently, Jenna is a psychologist at Redhill School and an employee wellness provider for ICAS where she provides group therapy and psycho-educational training for ICAS’ clients; and she is an ambassador for the Thuli Madonsela Foundation, whose ethos is to promote democracy for all South Africans.


    Presentation Abstract: The Transgender experience

    1. Transgender discrimination and the psychological impact of oppression

    2. The transgender journey from a medical, psycho-social and legal perspective

    Jenna will talk to her experience as a Trans person in the workplace – and provide practical advice for EAP’s and what they can do in the workplace.

    • Some of the subjects covered will include:
    • Sensitivity & embracing – being Trans doesn’t define a person, and one’s job title does not define their identity – we are people just like anyone else
    • Discrimation – Psychological impact
    • Language: Pronouns (misgendered), name change and gender marker (home affairs)
    • The difference between trans and being gay
    • Trans & non binary – gender categories
    • What the trans process is all about – what it entails

    – Hormones (HRT – hormone replacement therapy), surgeries (women vs men)
    – Opening up to family – coming out to family
    – Where to get healthcare – public & private hospitals

    • Bathrooms – trans woman can use a woman’s bathroom and vice versa – what’s legally required
    • Dress, behaviour
    • Anecdotes, examples, experiences in the workplace
    • School children – the process of transitioning – employees are also parents and can be supported in supporting their children

    Johnson & Johnson: Shaun Ringler

    Company Name: Johnson & Johnson

    Degree or Highest Qualification: Post Graduate Diploma in Accounting Sciences

    Speaker Job Title:  

    Biographical information related to the topic:

    Our discussion topic would be around the impact that an Employee Resource group provides to a diverse range of employees. Open&Out is a Johnson & Johnson Employee Resource Group that was launched in 2018 and has since moved to become a cross sector in our company. The presentation will look at the value our Employee Resource Group provides and the vision of Open&Out to make our company the number one inclusion company for the LGBTQ community and how we advocate. We discuss our achievements to date and how our engagement adapted to the virtual work environment in 2020. In addition the content may include a description of our other Employee Groups.

    We will hear from a South African representative of Johnson & Johnson who will present a case study on Open & Out, Johnson & Johnson’s Diversity and Inclusion Programme
    Open&Out is a global network of LGBTQ+ and Ally individuals who are open-minded and out to make a difference by creating safe and inclusive workspaces, fostering healthier communities and empowering our employees. The group has chapters in J&J offices around the world and is driven by representatives in each country. We have a clear mission to champion the full inclusion of people from the LGBTQ+ community within Johnson & Johnson as well as in the communities we serve, and we encourage individuals to involve themselves as much as possible to show support for their LGBTQ~ colleagues.

    The programme is explained in more detail by Johnson & Johnson on this document

    Presentation Abstract: 

    This discussion topic would be around the impact that an Employee Resource group provides to a diverse range of employees. Open&Out is a Johnson & Johnson Employee Resource Group that was launched in 2018 and has since moved to become a cross sector in our company. The presentation will look at the value our Employee Resource Group provides and the vision of Open&Out to make our company the number one inclusion company for the LGBTQ community and how we advocate. We discuss our achievements to date and how our engagement adapted to the virtual work environment in 2020. In addition the content may include a description of our other Employee Groups.

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