Top 5 2021 CHRO Community Conversations discuss employee experience, culture and DEI

The CHRO SA Community heard about the state of DEI and Workday’s unique approach.

2020 saw the introduction of Community Conversations, which were created as a safe space for HR leaders to connect, grow and share the unprecedented challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. These Community Conversations continued into 2021, as HR executives continued to share experiences and learn from each other.

These are some of the hottest topics tackled by CHROs among their peers in 2021.

Top employers look to talent exchange to enhance the employee experience
When Vodacom and Unilever embarked on a talent exchange programme, the objective was clear: deepen the business relationship between these leading corporates and provide a bespoke talent development opportunity for employees.

Vodacom SA’s executive HR director Njabulo Mashigo and Unilever Africa’s HR vice president Mechell Chetty shared their insights with an engaged group of attendees, with frank discussions on the benefits and challenges of their digital marketing talent exchange programme, which took place in June.

“We started the initiative about three years ago with a three-month graduate exchange partnership with Dimension Data. Then Covid-19 struck and we were dealing with the consequences of that. Recently, we revisited the initiative and looked at a new experiment with more seasoned talent,” Mechell said.

As Unilever already had partnerships with Vodacom and the organisations had similar values, it was seen as an opportunity to collaborate further and enhance the relationship through a talent mobility programme.

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Stan Slap puts culture in the spotlight during CHRO Community Conversation
All attention was on Stan Slap in a highly pertinent and entertaining CHRO Community Conversation, made possible by Workday. The author of two New York Times best-selling books (Under the Hood and Bury My Heart at Conference Room B) plus a third in the pipeline, Stan is a San Francisco-based culture expert who has helped the likes of Google and Deloitte ramp up their performance by putting culture front and centre.

During the presentation, Stan explained how culture is the key to move from an environment of surviving to one of thriving. To introduce his point, he showed the audience a black and white image of a man in uniform. This was Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, a Prussian field marshal and military strategist, who famously said, “No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength.”

“The enemy you’re dealing with is the fierce turbulence of uncertainty – in which you have to land a human capital strategy. You feel like a blind man in a dark room, searching for a black cap that isn't there,” said Stan.

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Community Conversation reveals the state of diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI)
In a Community Conversation sponsored by Workday, CHROs heard from Workday’s chief diversity officer, Carin Taylor, about the state of diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) and Workday’s unique approach, the impact and importance of data, and best practices that have enabled Workday to become a valued thought leader in solving DEI challenges.

Carin said the last 18 months had been challenging, particularly in the DEI space: “DEI in the workplace is evolving and it’s not only the traditional ways in which we used to think about and look at it, but we have more complex layered issues that are coming into this topic as well.

“We all know that women, in particular white women, have benefited from diversity efforts more than any other demographic.” she explained. “So while we are thinking about that, we also need to think about how we can make progress to more groups that are currently not reaping the rewards of what companies are doing from a diversity standpoint.”

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CHRO Community Conversation discusses how workplace leaders can fight gender-based violence
In a CHRO Community Conversation sponsored by Workday, University of Johannesburg associate professor Corné Davis explained why she believes GBV poses a greater threat to a company’s reputation than misconduct such as fraud.

Corné said she became a GBV activist in 2013. “My entry into the topic was when my Strategic Communications third-year students had to develop a campaign for Matla A Bana, an NGO that campaigns against child rape and secondary abuse.”

Corné highlighted the factors specifically associated with intimate partner violence:

  • Past history of exposure to violence;
  • Marital discord or dissatisfaction;
  • Difficulties in communicating between partners; and
  • Male controlling behaviours towards their partners.

Corné pleaded with the leaders in organisations to step in and help to fight GBV. “We are looking at a very big problem and I am calling on leaders in organisations to be involved,” she said.

“What organisations need to say is, we oppose gender-based violence in any form and to show our support, we can educate people about what it is and refer them to places where help can be received, if not for themselves; for their family members and friends that are experiencing the violence. There are solutions available and organisations must utilise them.”

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Community Conversation hears how Discovery has implemented mandatory vaccination
In September, Discovery announced that it would make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all staff from the start of next year. Since then, a number of other organisations have made similar pronouncements.

In this Community Conversation, sponsored by Workday, Discovery chief people officer Zimkhitha Saungweme presented an update on their journey, touching on the legal considerations as well as their ongoing employee engagement process.

Zimkhitha noted that they have received a lot of questions as to how they arrived at the decision to make vaccines mandatory.

“Over and above the company perspective, we started thinking about the ‘why’ and we took into account our company purpose, which is to make people healthy, to protect and enhance their lives. We also took into account our values.”

She explained that there were also many engagements taking into account the organisation’s moral, social, ethical and legal obligations, culture, purpose and values to form the backbone of the policy.

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