Publicis Groupe Africa Launches LGBTQIA+ initiative, Égalité, in South Africa

“The purpose of any business resource group is to provide employees the opportunity to enhance cultural awareness, develop leadership skills and network with colleagues across business units at all levels, including senior leadership,” explains Francois Coetzee, Publicis Groupe Africa’s HR partner, based in Johannesburg. “Égalité is Publicis Groupe’s business resource group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQIA+) professionals along with their allies.”

Along with Francois, Michael Constantinides, Senior Account Director at MSL South Africa – Publicis Groupe Africa’s PR and Influencer specialist agency – is spearheading the local community. Here he talks to the role this initiative can play in South Africa and what the objectives are for the year ahead.

Égalité SA and its objectives

“Publicis Group wants to ensure that we become the choice for LGBTQIA+ employees and allies as well as support those who belong to the community that are already employed at Publicis Group,” says Michael. Below, Michael explains more about the objectives of this initiative.

“Égalité is focused on four pillars: Education, Community Outreach, Business Development and Advocacy.

  1. Education is about creating awareness and inclusivity by providing LGBTQIA+ related education on a variety of topics for employees.
  2. Community outreach focuses on building bridges and support networks by engaging with the external LGBTQIA+ community by volunteering, fundraising, or community-building programs.
  3. Business development aims to have authentic involvement and to avoid Rainbow Washing by providing a series of speakers for internal and external business building opportunities.
  4. Lastly, Advocacy is all about amplifying LGBTQIA+ voices and rights within the workplace to identify opportunities for favourable LGBTQIA+ policy changes to be made across Publicis South Africa.”

“Égalité launched in South Africa during African Pride Month – October 2023,” says Michael.
The first event that Égalité SA hosted was an in-office panel discussion with key speakers ahead of the Johannesburg Pride March. “The topic for the discussion was ‘Space for All – Showing Up + Out’ which was about discussing allyship in the workspace, supporting LGBTQIA+ colleagues, sharing journeys and respecting statuses of those who choose to come out or not, as well as fostering inclusivity and advocacy in corporate South Africa during African Pride Month,” explains Michael.
“We also designed our #JoinThePride Africa initiative and logo, which we ironed onto our clothing items before embarking on the March,” says Michael.

Looking ahead to 2024, Michael says: “The aim is to create more educational and business development opportunities for queer and ally employees. It is paramount that we create a safe space for all. One that is inclusive, educational and allows for growth. Currently we are putting the national committee together, with champions for each of the pillars and we are excited about planning initiatives within each pillar for the year ahead,” he says. Watch this space!

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