What Are You Doing to Make a Desired Change in Your Organisation?
Last week, on Freedom Day in South Africa, I wrote an article for The Working Girl titled Freedom Day: Do I Feel Free and Empowered in Corporate South Africa? It wasn’t an easy article to write, but everything within me wanted to express my concerns and the reality of transformation in Corporate South Africa, especially as we honoured Freedom Day. I mentioned, in the article, that I have friends who work for various corporate companies, and that the one work-related topic that comes up most frequently in our conversations is racial prejudice. I have listened to, participated in and started many, many conversations complaining about racial inequality in Corporate South Africa. And, isn’t it just so exciting to complain? It gets our blood boiling, gives us an adrenaline rush and garners support from listeners as we passionately express our wrath. But, barely does it ever drive us to reflect on what we’re doing in attempt to understand and correct the issue.
Immediately after writing that article, a thought came to my mind “What are you doing, Nhlaks, to influence this change that you desire?” Of course I defended myself and replied (to myself), that I had just written an informative and heartfelt article about it on my blog, and had engaged a couple of influential stakeholders in dialogue for their thoughts and ideas. And then what? Is that all you can do? Absolutely not.
As I write this article, I just finished watching a video of Phuti Mahanyele, the former CEO of Shanduka Group, a multi-billion rand diversified African investment holding company that was established in 2001 by South Africa’s Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa. In reference to South Africa’s credit downgrade in 2015, she speaks about how easy it is to complain, and point the finger of blame instead of trying to do something about it:
“For me it’s been such a disappointment to see just how we can become so easily focused on negativity, and not be potentially looking at what we can be doing ourselves. Because, when you look at issues like this that affect a sovereign, whether it is in South Africa or any other country… the issue comes back to, what are you, as an individual, doing? How are you, as an individual, contributing, to whatever it is that is happening in your organisation and in your country, in order to create a different environment?”
That question in my head again: “Nhlaks, what are you doing? And, is it all that you can do?”
So, I’ve decided that I will of course continue to converse about the snail pace of transformation in Corporate South Africa. But, now, my purpose will not be to complain; it will be to harness productive thoughts and ideas on the why of the issue, educate others who may not see or understand the issue and take action that will contribute to alleviating it. I am a black female in corporate, in South Africa. If anyone is to shine the spotlight on the issue of racial and gender transformation in Corporate South Africa, and provide realistic and relevant ideas on how to ease it, it is me. And I urge you to do the same, no matter what your issue may be.