SA business to ‘come out the closet’ at 1st LGBTI Business Summit


A groundbreaking LGBTI business summit will be held on 11 September in Johannesburg to “set an LGBTI agenda for economic empowerment.”

The summit, convened by the PLUS LGBTI business network, aims to make a strong business case for the economic inclusion of LGBTI people and to open up new business and other economic empowerment opportunities.

Discussions during the summit will demonstrate how this can be done, identify opportunities to make it happen, and craft strategies to overcome obstacles. Topics will range from inclusion of corporate employees to challenges faced by LGBTI entrepreneurs. The summit will also be a unique opportunity to network with other LGBTI business owners and large corporates who support LGBTI inclusion.

“Without economic independence or empowerment, the promises of social justice and political emancipation for the LGBTI community are empty,” says Zini Godden, Chairperson of PLUS.

“In the context of the [state of the] economy in the country, business enablement becomes even more important. In the case where one in four people are unemployed, the option of starting your business and the enablement of that becomes critical, and in the LGBTI community even more so because of the traditional disenfranchisement it has faced.”

Godden believes that the historical – and ongoing – marginalisation of LGBTI people has undoubtedly impacted on our economic opportunities.

“If you can’t be who you truly are, openly and fully, it impacts on all aspects of your life and on the confidence and opportunities to be a successful business, because you are always standing in the shadows, always in the closet,” she says. “That traditional marginalisation impacts on all spheres of life, including the economic sphere.”

Godden points out that boosting and empowering LGBTI businesses and entrepreneurs does not detract from social justice and political activism. “Some of us don’t realise that we can call business enablement ‘activism’. Economic inclusion is not an ‘either or’ struggle, it’s an ‘and’ struggle,” she insists.

PLUS is an initiative of the Other Foundation and has Bonang Mohale, the chief executive officer of Business Leadership South Africa, as its champion. With support from the Other Foundation, several South African and multinational companies are partnering with PLUS to host the summit, including Absa, EY, Shell, Uber and others, as well as the South African LGBT+ Management Forum.

Zini Godden

The summit will be held on Tuesday 11 September in Johannesburg at the Equinox centre at Absa Capital in Sandton, Johannesburg, from 09h00 to 17h00.

Alongside the summit, the South African LGBT+ Management Forum will launch the results of the first ever South African Workplace Equality Index (SAWEI) that measures LGBTI inclusion amongst companies in South Africa, during an evening event hosted by EY at its Sandton offices.

PLUS calls on all LGBTI entrepreneurs and business owners, corporate LGBTI workplace affinity groups, and business leaders involved in enterprise development, supply chain diversification, transformation, or talent management to register to participate in the summit through the PLUS website at

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