Redefine CPO Renske Coetzee prioritises diversity, being true to self and combating youth unemployment


At Redefine, fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t just a mandate – it’s a core value embedded within the fabric of the organisation, explains Renske.

In the field of human resources, Renske Coetzee stands out. With 25 years of experience across industries, she’s known for her passion and dedication to helping people grow.

Reflecting on her journey, she says “I’ve led human resources and people management functions in the fields of people, organisational performance, leadership and culture development, change management, human resources management, and learning and development across various industries over the past 25 years.

Her career in HR traces back to a serendipitous twist of fate. Originally on track for a BCom in Accounting, a last-minute decision led her to pursue a BCom in HR. “Throughout my studies, I worked in a retail store in my hometown,” she reminisces. “The year I enrolled for a master’s degree, I was fortunate to be appointed at the retailer as a personnel officer.”

Fuelled by a passion for learning and an unwavering belief in human potential, Renske transitioned through various roles, enriching their skill set and broadening their perspective. “The ability to skillfully unlock the potential within people is the endowment of good leadership,” she asserts.

For her, inspiration springs from a simple yet profound ethos: leaving things better than they were found. “Having the ability to make choices and aspiring to be a better human,” she reflects, encapsulating a philosophy rooted in gratitude and growth.

Beyond the boardroom, Renske finds solace in nature, indulging in activities like mountain biking and hiking. And in a testament to her ceaseless quest for growth, she’s embarked on a journey to learn the guitar, debunking the notion that old dogs can’t learn new tricks.

Looking ahead to the future of HR, Renske foresees a landscape shaped by the dual pressures of operational efficiency and transformative technologies. “The complexity and pressure to maintain operational efficiency, despite the radical changes in the way we work, will continue to be a factor,” she predicts.

Driving DEIB at Redefine

Transitioning from her personal journey to her role as CPO at Redefine, the focus shifts to the company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). At Redefine, fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t just a mandate, it’s a core value embedded within the fabric of the organisation,” she says.

“Our people strategy aims to grow and inspire people to create and manage spaces for positive impact. Core to achieving this ambition is to be a diverse and inclusive organisation – a place where our people matter.”

To realise this vision, Redefine has implemented a multifaceted approach encompassing awareness initiatives, best practice benchmarking, and ongoing feedback mechanisms. “We assess our progress and continuously gather feedback from our employees,” she says, underscoring the importance of an iterative and inclusive process.

However, promoting diversity and inclusion isn’t without its challenges. Renske acknowledges the pervasive nature of biases and the imperative of creating platforms for dialogue and education. “One challenge has been recognising that everyone has biases, and that these can impact decision-making,” she notes.

Integral to the organisation’s DE&I strategy is its alignment with the broader business objectives. “Our strategy and initiatives have the full support of Redefine leadership, including executive sponsorship and board oversight to monitor progress,” Renske affirms.

Empowering the next generation

In addition to its DEIB initiatives, Redefine is committed to addressing youth unemployment through targeted programmes and initiatives. Central to these efforts is the company’s learnership programme, which offers young people the opportunity to gain valuable work experience while earning a salary.

“Our learnership programme offers youth the opportunity to gain valuable work experience at Redefine for one year, while earning a salary,” she explains, highlighting the programme’s dual emphasis on skill development and employment.

Moreover, the organisation is actively engaged in supporting the career development of young professionals through initiatives like the SDG Innovation Accelerator for Young Professionals programme. “This provides a unique opportunity to participate in the United Nations Global Compact network,” elaborates Renske, emphasising the programme’s focus on driving business innovation aligned with sustainability objectives.

Recognising the unique needs and aspirations of young employees, Redefine has developed tailored programmes aimed at equipping them with the skills and support needed to thrive in the workplace. “We introduce them to the world of work through a work readiness programme,” she shares, outlining the company’s holistic approach to employee development.

In the near future, Redefine remains steadfast in its commitment to combatting youth unemployment and fostering the next generation of talent. “Growing inequality requires a much larger overall response to unemployment," she asserts, underscoring the company’s broader soci-oeconomic development initiatives aimed at creating opportunities for unemployed youth.

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