Observing human rights in the workplace


In South Africa, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of 


It is often considered a given that businesses adhere to the requirements of South African labour law; and while we may try to adhere to these rules, a concerted effort must be made to ensure that non-discrimination is enforced.

In many cases, workplace discrimination is less blatant, often being subtler or more concealed in its execution. This form of discrimination impacts greatly on the discriminated person, often resulting in a less favorable working environment, increased barriers to progression, higher degrees of stress, and lower earning power.

It is imperative to remember that the success of any business is in the way the employees are treated, both by senior management and employees alike. 

There are a few simple steps businesses can take to ensure non-discrimination in the workplace. These include employee:

  • Education programmes
  • Continual internal communication campaigns
  • Establishing confidential channels for the reporting of potentially discriminatory practices
  • Providing a safe and open environment for issues of non-discrimination and human right to be discussed
  • Ensuring your HR management is fully up to date on the South African constitution and labour laws
  • As part of your company culture, it is imperative that you do not shy away from the problems of discrimination and this is an open discussion
  • Ensure your staff members are people of principle and have a genuine respect for people of all races, cultures and origins. Without genuine and authentic staff, creating an environment of acceptance, compassion and tolerance is impossible.

Importantly, leaders within the organisation need to set an example and create an accountable workplace, where issues of discrimination will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be addressed according to strict guidelines and standards. This will ensure that employees will also hold each other accountable for acts of discrimination, leading to a conducive working environment.

We must recognise that, while South Africa has one of the most advanced constitutions and labour policy environments in the world, a great deal of work still needs to be done to ensure that discrimination in the workplace is stamped out permanently. This work starts within our homes and offices, and more specifically, with ourselves!

Read the South African labour laws here 

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