The results of a recent salary survey show that South African men are earning up to 65% more than their female counterparts – for doing the same job. What’s more, according to both local and international statistics, the gender pay gap is worse for women with children, more women than men are unemployed and women still continue to fall behind their male counterparts in terms of opportunities for professional advancement. All pretty shocking statistics when you consider that we supposedly live in a democracy with equality for all.

Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions – one of South Africa’s largest and leading recruitment companies, says that all women need to equip themselves with knowledge and tools to protect themselves against workplace discrimination. To ensure that you don’t become a victim she offers the following tips:
•    Know your rights
“Familiarise yourself with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act”, urges Vittee. “These three Acts help you to understand your rights and also provide you with legal backing if these rights are being abused. The laws contained in these Acts promote equal opportunities, fair treatment for all employees, the elimination of unfair discrimination and ensure equal pay for equal work – all of which must be adhered to by businesses.”
•    Job seekers beware
“If you’re looking for a job, watch out for unscrupulous companies that advertise positions demanding discriminatory prerequisites that have nothing to do with your ability to perform the tasks of the job such as age, sex, physique, and other subjective attributes. This is illegal. It is also illegal for interviewers to ask personal, non ability-related questions during the recruitment and selection process, such as your marital status, family situation and HIV status,” warns Vittee. “Finding a job in today’s market can be quite tough and these kinds of companies don’t make the job search any easier. If you have encountered prejudices like these or are wary of responding to job ads online or in newspapers, why not approach a reputable recruitment company to assist you in your job hunt? It won’t cost you anything and will improve your chances of being placed with a company that will treat you well.”

•    Speak up
“If you are employed and feel that you are being discriminated against, you are well within your rights to complain to your manager or someone in the Human Resources department. If, after this, you are  still not being heard I would suggest taking it further to Equality Courts such as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and the Dispute Resolution Body”, advises Vittee.

•    Be the best
Vittee says that when she first began working she too was discriminated against – regardless of her qualifications and abilities. “I was repeatedly rejected for opportunities but overcame this by ensuring that I excelled at my job as well as by up-skilling myself through internal organisational training. By proving myself, despite the discrimination I was subjected to, I was able to seize career opportunities and show that I was capable as a woman in business.”

“By knowing your rights and what to do if you are being treated unfairly, you empower not only yourself but other women too in the fight against gender inequality”, concludes Vittee.

For more information about Quest Staffing Solutions, please visit

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