The Steinhoff Saga Management review - University of Stellenbosch Business School

January – June 2018

The SABPP Women’s Report 2017: Fairness in relation to women at work

  • Prof Anita Bosch
  • MAY 2018
  • Tags Reports, Leadership


Article written by Prof Anita Bosch

The 2017 edition of this report, with USB’s Prof Anita Bosch as editor, published a collection of research papers on various aspects of fairness impacting women in the world of work.

The themes of previous years’ Women’s Reports predominantly focused on visible and known differences between men and women, such as pregnancy and pay disparity. Fairness, however, is a more nebulous and debatable concept.

Chasing targets will render women mere tokens.

We often hear children whine, ‘But that is not fair!’ when they don’t get their way, which parents ignore as an attempt at achieving self-gratification. The same reasoning may be attributed to managers when employees make it known that they feel that they are being treated unfairly. It takes a thoughtful manager to stop and listen, for, often, in the perceived whine, is a little piece of truth, uncomfortable as it may be. This year’s report explores that alternative truth, in order to influence HR practitioners and line managers to give fairness some consideration.

More women than men are leaving their organisations, especially at senior levels.

Chapter 1, written by Prof Piet Naudé from the University of Stellenbosch Business School, considers how society leads itself to believe that our lived experience of gender relations is a given, and how we may start changing our thinking, so that gender relations in the workplace can improve. Prof Amanda Gouws, lecturer in Political Science at Stellenbosch University, extends the theme by providing a glimpse of fairness in the private world of families.

It is erroneously believed that women inhibit their own workplace progression by making certain choices.

In Chapter 2, she calls us to consider how gender relations are political, and warns against the consequences of the exclusion of care in society. Chapter 3 considers how women have been included and excluded from paid work, and how power relationships have changed over time. This chapter, authored by Prof Anita Bosch, provides a rationale for justice for women. The Women’s Report provides a glimpse of the world of work through the eyes of women, and how this view often leads to improvements for both men and women. In this regard, Chapter 4, co-authored by Hugo Pienaar and Riola Kok, both from Employment Law at Cliffe, Dekker, Hofmeyr Inc., focuses on paternity leave and how employment law may not be fair towards men. Prof Mariette Coetzee from the Department of Human Resource Management at Unisa wrote the last chapter, presenting an HR management view on fairness towards women at work.

Employers need to understand that both the workplace and the home are gendered.

The report is supported by the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP) through its ongoing interest in gender issues in the workplace. This was also the first year that the Women’s Report was co-sponsored by the University of Stellenbosch Business School and the University of Johannesburg.

Prof Anita Bosch lectures in Women at Work, Human Capital Management and Leadership at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

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