Kershini Govender links purpose with transformation


Nedbank’s executive head for transformation and strategy Kershini Govender says transformation is more than just balancing the previously disadvantaged and the historically favoured.

For the longest time, transformation has been associated with redressing past injustices by championing equal access to economic opportunities through legislation such as the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act.

However, transformation is much more than just balancing the previously disadvantaged and the historically favoured. It involves organisations driven by a purpose to foster better socio-economic conditions for all, with a focus on mobilising energy, taking action and essentially, igniting a lingering spark.

Here are six key learning outcomes that can move your organisation to greater transformation heights.

  • Invest in your purpose, as this guides value creation

Purpose emerges through aspects such as processes and policies and should ultimately drive profits and societal advantages. Stanford University acknowledges that purpose should serve as a guiding North Star for an organisation, with Harvard stating that it must be a unifying statement.

Added to this, as an organisation seeks purpose, conscious or deliberate effort should inherently drive motivations, and every effort should be made to find the sweet spot between commercial and social logic. This means that a company’s purpose must create value for stakeholders, employees, customers, suppliers, and society, but at the same time, should also be a means by which the organisation generates revenue.

  • Growth and B-BBEE are positively correlated

The reality is that organisations around the whole world face the same challenges to facilitating transformation and growth, while ensuring efficient allocation of scarce resources. Businesses need to make money to drive growth, and growth in turn, allows more revenue to be generated.

It is essential then to be able to understand, even against the backdrop of volatility and unpredictability, the critical aspects that will stagnate expansion and how the organisation will respond and address them.

  • NWoW – New Ways of Working embraced

COVID-19 truly showed a distinction between organisations that were able to capitalise on change and consequently thrive, and those that were unable to embrace the benefits of new ways of working. An organisation can examine how workplaces would potentially evolve over the next decade and identify some developments already taking place.

Specific characteristics include more focus being placed on skills rather than roles, middle management having a different range of responsibilities, upskilling and digital dexterity outweighing tenure and experience, employee data collection expanding and smart machines becoming ordinary, everyday colleagues.

One big shift that is currently taking shape – made evident by the “great resignation” – is employees working for a purpose and passion rather than just for money. From a working hours perspective, leave policies will be revised and updated (such as paternity policies), shorter work weeks will become a new employee value proposition (EVP), workcations (which combine the travel of traditional vacations with remote work) will become the norm and remote work-life balance will continue to reveal certain challenges that employers will have to face and address.

With these evolving trends, leadership and digital workplace frameworks will have to pivot to align with these requirements. Further to this, employee as well as financial wellbeing, which have proven to reduce absenteeism and enhance productivity, will need to be prioritised.

  • Intelligence pivoted to include IQ + EQ + AQ

Intelligence not only incorporates technical (IQ) and emotional (EQ) quotients but also adaptability (AQ). AQ measures the ability to adapt (handle change, learn from mistakes, overcome challenges, and adjust in real time) and is a critically important skill, essentially meaning the difference between excellence and extinction in the modern workplace.

To survive, businesses need to stay relevant, anticipate trends and embrace innovation. This means hiring based on IQ, EQ and AQ combined, ensuring that the organisation is driven by problem solvers who are curious, creative, innovative, mindful, resilient, and agile. Ultimately, a business that fosters a culture of ongoing improvement and growth is more likely to adapt and succeed, enhancing its position to empower economically.

  • Transformation must transcend B-BBEE compliance

For true purpose-led transformation to be realised, supporting the national agenda should be key. However, this should be done by expanding beyond B-BBEE scorecards and leveraging capital more strategically – more specifically human, socioeconomic, financial and leadership capital.

Human capital encapsulates ownership, management control, employment equity and skills development, while socio-economic capital looks at preferential procurement and enterprise, supplier, and socio-economic development.

Financial capital includes empowerment financing and access to financial services, while leadership capital comprises stakeholder relationships, clients, culture, and brand.

Fundamentally, businesses don’t want to be redistributing wealth but rather creating it, particularly when it comes to growing and empowering supply chains. Segregating these aspects leads to a simple tick-box exercise that emphasises compliance. However, integrating all these aspects allows for a clearer view of the bigger picture, to where actual transformation and change takes place.

  • Equity must come before equality

Equality is about providing the same level of opportunity and assistance to all segments of society, with equality inevitably being the end goal. Equity should be inherent in organisations’ procedures, processes and policies, and refers to the provision of varying levels of support, based on specific needs, to achieve greater fairness of treatment. As such, it is critical to assess how equity can be more evident in practice.

One way is to ensure diversity and inclusion, with research ascertaining that diverse management teams ultimately lead to enhanced revenue and an improvement in culture. It stands to reason that people with mixed talent and capability will almost always achieve a better result than a group of high ability individuals only.

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