For The People

Talking Workplace Abuse with Author Sihle Bolani

Sihle Bolani was born in Durban and spent most of her life in Johannesburg. She was raised by a single mom and continuous education and growth has been the running theme of her life. She is a Workplace Transformation Specialist, Corporate Communications Strategist and an author of the hotly controversial book entitled, “We are the ones we need”.

The book made its debut late 2018.  Written in a memoir style, it probes into the challenges that black professionals in South Africa are subjected too, no matter the hierarchy. Issues such as structural racism and how managers perpetuate discrimination in the workplace, corporate abuse and suppressions and ignoring black talented individuals. The book also deals with the trauma and psychological effects such acts can have on black professionals.

“I went through a terrible experience where I had a very abusive line manager who made life for me at work an absolute hell”. She told Solomon Star, “I realised I wasn’t the only person who had gone through such an experience, I then began to realise that it is important for us as black working professionals to tell our story in our own words,” she answered when asked what inspired her to pen down the book.

She says her aim with the book is to get people talking, “Secondly, to let others who have been or might be in the same situation currently, know that they are not alone or crazy. Lastly, it’s a call to action because we are the ones that hold the key to real change, meaningful transformation in the workplace that sees black professionals being treated fairly, equitably and having their careers and health valued and protected,” she added.

In giving advice to professionals, Sihle says it is important that individuals understand what unfair treatment, more so, constructive dismissal is. Once the issue has been defined it becomes easier to know when it is happening to you. “In short, constructive dismissal is when your boss or manager makes your work environment so unbearable and leaves you with no choice but to leave the job without them having to fire you”.  The issue is not easy to prove  which makes it a very complex subject. Sihle advises that employees should look out for the following signs amongst others:

  • Being side lined
  • Being isolated
  • Having your workload increased beyond your capacity
  • Having your deliverables altered
  • Being told you are under-performing when you know that it is untrue
  • Verbal abuse

The uncensored and influential person in Bolani never let these setback pulls her down. She formed a communications company in 2014, while juggling her full-time job, which was not an easy task as the job that pays the bills always took priority.

Her favourite quote, “I did not come into this world, to leave it as I found it.” Sihle wants to make the world a better place, which is why the ambitious woman co-founded an initiative called, Leading Women Series, which was designed to give a platform for women to share their personal and professional experiences and to connect with one another.

The writer says that the reception of her book has been very positive. “Many people see themselves in my story, which makes it bittersweet, it really makes me happy to know that people can relate and find some solace in my book, but it is saddening that many of us have experienced corporate brutality and are being crucified just because of the colour of our skin,” she remarked.

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