Code of Conduct

1. Glossary

Abuse: is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons.

Beneficiaries: Groups and individuals with whom Sonke works, to whom Sonke provides assistance, and for whose rights Sonke advocates. These include but are not limited to participants in workshops, conferences, protests and meetings, CAT members, and volunteers.

Bullying: is when an individual or a group of people with more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause hurt or harm to another person or group of people who feel helpless to respond.

Code of conduct: A set of standards about behaviour that staff of Sonke are obliged to adhere to.

Consent: When someone unambiguously and voluntarily agrees to do something without coercion, and fully understanding the consequences of their decision.

Coercion: The use of force or threats to persuade someone to do something they are unwilling to do.

Corporal Punishment: Hitting a child for the purpose of punishment, no matter how lightly.

Discrimination: Treating a person unfairly directly or indirectly because of who they are or because they possess certain characteristics.

Harassment: Harassment is a form of discrimination. It includes any unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends or humiliates you. Harassment occurs when someone: (1) makes unwelcome remarks or jokes about your race, gender, gender identity, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, political persuasion, conscience, belief, culture or language; (2) race, gender, gender identity, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, political persuasion, conscience, belief, culture or language or any other of the grounds of discrimination and (3) makes unwelcome physical contact with you, such as touching, patting, or pinching.

Safeguarding: is protecting vulnerable adults, children, or the community in which Sonke operates in from abuse, harm or neglect.

Sexual exploitation: means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.

Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment is bullying or coercion of a sexual nature or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favours. It is the unwanted sexual advances or remarks, including both verbal and non-verbal conduct. Examples include but are not limited to non-consensual physical touching, lewd or obscene sexual jokes, whistling, rude gestures, questioning someone about their sex life or sexual orientation or their gender identity, requests for sex, promising someone rewards in exchange for sexual favours, staring at someone’s body, commenting on someone’s state of dress or gender-based slurs.

2. Purpose of the Code of Good Conduct

In keeping with the objectives of the Non-Profit Organisations Act (1997), Sonke Gender Justice encourages and supports its employees to meet the diverse needs of the communities they serve in South Africa, Southern Africa and across the globe by:

  • Ensuring that the Board, donors, management, staff and community action team members maintain the highest standards of ethics, governance, transparency and accountability;
  • Creating an environment in which employees can flourish and deliver on Sonke’s mandate; and
  • Assessing and affirming high standards of behaviour in the workplace.

3. Principles

The Code of Good Conduct provides a framework for employees regarding their beliefs, principles and values that the organisation aspires to, including:

  • Ensuring safeguards and measures are in place to prevent sexual exploitation, harassment, bullying and abuse from taking place within the organisation;
  • Acknowledging that every human being has a unique value and potential, irrespective of origin, ethnicity, culture, gender, age, sexual orientation, values, beliefs, politics, religion, race, socio-economic or HIV status;
  • Recognizing that all employees have the right to fulfillment of their potential;
  • Acknowledging that all employees have a responsibility to support and empower their peers with knowledge and skills;
  • Acknowledging that all employees have a responsibility to safeguard the children in their family and environment, against all forms of violence including corporal punishment;
  • Respecting the rights, culture and dignity of all people we work with;
  • Promoting unity and wellbeing within the communities that we work in;
  • Being responsive to the needs of the people of South Africa and the communities we work in across the globe;
  • Ensuring that there is no discrimination against any member of the public on account of race, gender, gender identity, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, political persuasion, conscience, belief, culture or language;
  • Considering the circumstances and concerns of the beneficiaries when making decisions that affect them; and
  • Working with organisations that adhere to similar principles and values as Sonke.

4. Leadership

For Sonke to perform optimally, leadership must operate fairly, transparently, and in line with the organizations values and its commitment to transformation, accountability and democratic practice and must embody these principles and values in all their interactions.

5. Core values that Sonke aspires to

5.1. Promote gender equality and social justice outside the workplace

Employees of Sonke shall promote gender equality and social justice, for the maintenance of its integrity, good reputation to ensure they uphold principles of gender equality not only in their professional lives, but also in their personal lives. This means, but is not limited to, building relationships with women, children, transgender individuals and men founded upon respect, speaking out against violence and injustices in our communities, sharing decision-making powers with others, respecting human diversity in all its forms, and recognizing and upholding the rights of others under all circumstances, including humanitarian crises situations. It also means being critically aware of the interconnections between gender inequality and other prevalent social and structural injustices such as classism, racism, sexism, economic inequality and homophobia.

5.2. Do not discriminate against others

No employee shall discriminate or harass others for reasons pertaining to national origin, race, colour, religion, gender, age, language, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic or marital status, nor for any other reason. Staff who comes across such instances of discrimination shall actively question and challenge colleagues inside and outside the organisation.

5.3. Respect and dignity

As a team we shall respect each other’s views, never embarrass, bully or humiliate anyone in the team, and value the contributions of each of our team members.

5.4. Create peaceful, equal professional environments

Employees of Sonke shall not tolerate harassment or threats in any form, viz. verbal, physical, psychological, sexual or visual, that may make others feel unsafe.

Organizationally, this means treating others (including women, children, LGBT individuals, persons with disabilities, etc.) as equals inside the office, as well as in communities impacted (directly, as well as indirectly) by our activities, programmes and projects. As employees we shall seek to work collaboratively, engaging in open dialogue about our differences.

5.5. Be violence free and promote respect

All employees are committed to upholding the principles of non-violence in their own lives and shall work to prevent and combat violence in all its forms, including sexual and gender-based violence, violence against women and children, corporal punishment, interpersonal violence and bullying of any sort. Violation of this principle may adversely cause harm to Sonke colleagues, negatively affect the efforts of Sonke and lead to the tarnishing of the organisations values. The organisation shall hold all staff members accountable to a rigorous anti-violence and anti-bullying standards.

5.6. Avoid conflict of interest

If employees are presented with a situation whose outcome creates personal benefit for him or herself, friends or family members, at the expense or the integrity of Sonke, there may be a conflict of interest and it should be avoided. Carrying out transactions or situations that favour certain organisations or individuals over others can lead to the tarnishing of Sonke’s beliefs and principles.

Additionally, Sonke’s employees shall strive to work transparently and collaboratively in all areas where they operate.

5.7. Integrity

We shall maintain high ethical standards by not compromising our values, being honest and trustworthy in our dealings with each other and do what is morally correct.

5.8. Building relationships

We shall build strong relationships in the team, develop and nurture these relationships with commitment and dedication to ensure the success of our work.

5.9. Accountability

We accept responsibility for our actions and acknowledge that we will make mistakes. We shall learn from our mistakes, strive to improve upon them, and shall be held accountable when we compromise the values of the organisation.

5.10. Team work

We recognise that every member of the team brings a range of skills and expertise, and together we shall accomplish our goals and objectives set for the year.

5.11. Professionalism and strong work ethic

We shall be professional in our dealings with each other, show commitment to our work, work diligently and smartly while maintaining a positive attitude.

5.12. Dependability and responsibility

Employees shall come to work timeously, take responsibility for their actions and behavior, keep management abreast of changes to their work schedules and provide progress reports in relation to projects.

5.13. Adaptability

As employees we shall be adaptable, open to change and maintain flexibility in completing tasks in an ever-changing workplace.

5.14. Honesty and trust

As employees we shall maintain a sense of honesty because virtuous relationships are built on trust and it is the responsibility of each employee to use their individual sense of moral standing when working with and supporting others within the scope of their work. We shall act and talk with integrity about developments within and outside Sonke and commit to not misrepresenting facts for personal gain.

5.15. Adopting a positive attitude

As enthusiastic employees we shall show initiative, be motivated to get our work done within a reasonable period, create an environment of good will and serve as positive role models to our peers, by making the work place pleasant and fun to go to each day, without dwelling on the challenges that inevitably come up in any job.

5.16. Holding one another accountable

Employees are aware that both their positive and negative actions reflect upon the organisation as a whole. For this reason, Sonke must aim to recognize this and employees must hold one another accountable for actions that go against the principles of the organisation. Accountability can mean different things depending on the context. It may mean confronting a colleague who makes a sexist comment about women’s bodies or holding quarterly meetings with key stakeholders such as LGBTIQ groups to ensure that the implementation of an HIV-prevention project is carried out in a collaborative and transparent way. The most important thing to remember is that the integrity of the organisation is dependent upon individuals who are critically aware of their actions as well as those of others, including close friends and colleagues.

5.17. Ensure transparency at all levels

All employees shall strive to be transparent, honest, fair and ethical in all their actions, including making public its sources of funding and annual budget and spending, except in cases where the donor requests to remain anonymous. Transparency also means working collaboratively with local organisations in places where Sonke exists.