Inclusion for all is a key part of Vodacom's purpose and celebrating LGBTIQA+ people has always been a cause that is particularly close to Vodacom's heart. Here are just a few of the initiatives we've been involved in.
The Pride of Africa
Vodacom has been a main sponsor of both Cape Town Pride and Johannesburg Pride events. As part of Cape Town Pride, we sponsored the Vodacom Rainbow Pride Fun Run where we encouraged staff and the general community to participate in a fun run along the Sea Point promenade in Cape Town. Vodacom handed out T-shirts and lanyards as well as prizes to the event participants bearing the Vodacom LGBTIQA+ brand logos. We also designed and published a full page advert in the Cape Town Pride magazine, showing our support and commitment to the community at large. At Johannesburg Pride, we sponsored a prize for the Pride of Africa awards dinner. This dinner was held to acknowledge members of the community who are making a difference in the world around them, through education, blogging and campaigning. These ambassadors have addressed various LGBTIQA+ issues, from the stigma surrounding HIV and the use of PrEP and getting tested to helping trans people with issues surrounding transitioning. Vodacom staff, together with other corporates, attended the Pride Day event and march in October where we shared ideas and initiatives we could engage in together. We also encouraged Vodacom staff to attend the Pride Family Day, which was a brunch held in honour of the LGBTIQA+ community and their family members who have supported them and continue to support them. This was a way to thank those near and dear who stand by us. We encouraged our staff to attend with their close family members to give thanks to them for being an ally of the LGBTIQA+ community.
LGBTIQA+ in the workplace
To raise awareness and encourage support for employees who identify as LGBTIQA+, Vodacom has initiated events for both our employees and for young people, who are the future of South Africa. One such initiative was a talk at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, in collaboration with Investec and Absa. The discussion was about being out at work and aimed to assist graduates in tackling the working environment as an LGBTIQA+ person. It gave them the opportunity to address any fears or concerns they had about leaving university as an out LGBTIQA+ person and joining the workforce without losing their identity.
Within the company, we now also incorporate LGBTIQA+ in the Vodacom induction for new employees, making them aware of Vodacom’s support for LGBTIQA+ staff and the community, and informing them of the network that they can join as an LGBTIQA+ staff member or as an ally of LGBTIQA+.
Other LGBTIQA+ Vodacom initiatives
We celebrated Spirit Day 2018 by wearing purple and marching on campus to show our support against bullying in the LGBTIQA+ community. We also encouraged staff to sign up as friends of LGBTIQA+, a global initiative started by Vodafone, which encourages friends of LGBTIQA+ within the workplace to show their commitment to diversity and inclusion for all.
We also donated a laptop to Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) South Africa to assist with their work in providing support to loved ones of people who identify as LGBTIQA+, as well as their presentations to schools and universities about LGBTQIA+ matters.
Vodacom's future plans in the LGBTIQA+ community
- In 2018, the chair and vice-chair of the LGBTIQA+ network (Kyle Smith and Jeanine Ferreira) attended an LGBTIQA+ leadership course together with Google. We wanted to look at how we can better our LGBTIQA+ leadership at Vodacom, in collaboration with partners such as Google. As we continue this journey, we aim to partner with Google in South Africa to optimise search engine results when common LGBTIQA+ words and themes are searched for to point the user to content that is accurate, unbiased and does not amount to hate speech. This is aimed at assisting teens who might be confused about their sexuality and also to assist parents who might search for topics related to their children. The leadership course will be offered to all Band F and above Vodacom staff members in future and a new course is already planned for September 2019, which we hope to see more of our people leaders attending.
- We aim to partner with OUT in creating awareness about sexual health issues, taking PrEP and getting tested and treated for HIV. We will soon host a day for the Vodacom LGBTIQA+ network to join OUT on an outreach project where they will go into rural communities and assist with HIV testing and education for these communities. Through joint social media posts with OUT, we want to work together to show the community how ordinary people working for an organisation with a purpose are not afraid to get tested and take responsibility for their health.