Diversity and inclusion in the South African telecommunications industry: An LGBTQIA+ employee perspective


  • Xolile Sibande University of Witwatersrand
  • Jenika Gobind University of Witwatersrand




Diversity, Inclusion, Organisational Culture, Workplace, LGBTQIA , South Africa


Despite improvements globally in actions and campaigns supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, individuals who belong to the community continue to face immense backlash and challenges in their lives for their choices and beliefs. In Africa, there are still over 30 countries that criminalise acts of homosexuality. People who identify as LGBTQIA+ often face discrimination, harassment, and violence because of their sexual orientation or gender in social and workplace settings.  This study aimed to understand the experiences of employees who align with the LGBTQIA+ community and how they navigate diversity and inclusion in the workplace. While examining whether organisational culture may enable the seamless reasonable accommodation and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ employees in the workplace. The study focused on one sector at this time to further understand if the South African telecommunications industry is embracing diversity, equity and inclusion of employees who identify as LGBTQIA+. The two theories which guided the study were the queer theory and institutional theory. These theories assisted in providing a greater understanding of the concepts and phenomena studied. Providing a lens that enabled an understanding of how an individual’s unique experiences in the workplace may be perceived, as a deterrence for inclusion. Following a mixed qualitative methodology, data was gathered using a two-phase approach. The first phase entailed purposively selecting eight participants who engaged in a reflective diary. The second phase involved a set of interviews with fifteen participants. Data gathered from both phases were coded and thematically analysed enabling a triangulation of findings. Which revealed that diversity and inclusion measures are unmet. Employees who identify, as belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community are challenged each day with many resigning in an attempt to escape discrimination, harassment, and abuse. Participant's commitment to continue with the diary study for fear of being identified as the first limitation. The second limitation was the industry's reluctance to share their insights. Trust had to be built to continue with the research process. Recommendation for further research in this area and for studies to include other sectors with larger samples.