Senior HR executive reveals how toxic the culture was at the PIC

Ramabu Motimele's testimony at the PIC commission should serve as a warning sign to HR execs.

Ramabu Motimele, a senior human resources executive at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), testified at the commission of inquiry into allegations of gross governance failures at the single largest investor in the country.  In his statement, Ramabu described the process of designing and conducting an employee engagement survey wherein most employees described the culture at the organisation as frustrating, unfair and distrustful.

The commission, which is headed by justice Lex Mpati, heard about the survey, which was aimed at canvassing the opinions and perspectives of employees regarding their professional satisfaction, and the overall working environment at the organisation.

Ramadu explained how the chairman of the employment equity committee, Deon Botha, strongly cautioned him that employees may not participate in the survey “due to prevailing levels of fear within the PIC.”

“This response was common across the people I had engaged with, including my fellow HR colleagues who have been in the employ of PIC longer than myself,” said Ramadu , adding that there was an initial survey that “did not yield any meaningful value to employees,” and failed to arrest the worsening work environment. 

Ramadu’s revelations point to the importance of organisational culture which, according to the Business Dictionary is defined as “the values and behaviours that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organisation”. 

It is very easy for culture to slip down the pecking order behind organisations’ most pressing business priorities, but the Ramadu’s testimony shows why you  avoid that terrible moment when you realise your culture is out of your control as business leaders.