GWII LeaderWalk – People leadership incorporating human diversity

In collaboration with Business Engage and the 30% Club, Gauteng Women in Insurance (GWII) hosted a LeaderWalk on 19 September, with main sponsor Discovery South Africa and co-sponsors Camargue Underwriting Managers and Old Mutual Insure.

In this leader walk-themed people leadership incorporating human diversity, Stanley Bongwe, the Founder and Director of The Diversity Institute spoke about workplace diversity management and winning work behaviours.

Session points of emphasis

Here are the points of emphasis that Bongwe spoke about:

1. Reaffirming the centrality of the human being in the business success equation and unpacking the concept of winning at work – it is important to review key business processes such as teamwork, collaboration, creativity and innovation, customer service, people leadership, organisational attractiveness, talent retention, etc. and analyse the behaviour of individuals, team leaders, and managers in achieving the desired business goals and objectives. Unpacking that the concept of winning at work does not only refer to receiving a vertical promotion that is sometimes accompanied by a pay increase. Rather, it also entails having a sense of personal fulfilment from a job well done; having healthy emotions when at the workplace; being happy at work; receiving recognition and reward that may come in different forms other than a vertical promotion.

2. Revisiting how to win with people at work: fixing yourself and fixing the way you operate with others – we cannot change other people, but we can change ourselves and the way we operate with others. Why is that important? It is because we want to win with them. Even though we cannot change others, we can influence them through our changed behaviour and the effective way we deal with them.

  • Fixing ourselves: because all of us as human beings we are not perfect, we need to continually assess our own behaviours towards people at work to ensure that we do not exhibit behaviours that have an adverse effect on others, thus impacting their performance negatively. Therefore, there are some of our behaviours that we will need to learn to review and change for better results.
  • Fixing the way we operate with others: we will need to understand that if we want to win with them, we need to: respect them (if you as their leader don’t respect them, they will have no reasons to respect you. But if you respect them, many will turn around and respect you even more, because many of them are not used to being respected by their bosses. You become that special one that they would not want to let down.), treat all of them fairly (most good workers do not expect favours from their bosses, they only expect fairness. Because, these good workers know that if they wanted that success so much, they will be prepared to work for it and earn it. And that which they have earned seems to carry of lot of value to them. Good workers are not used to getting things for free, they are used to digging for them.) and reconnect with our own humanity (you will win with people when you have reconnected with your own humanity. When you have truly reconnected with your own humanity, then you will treat others with compassion, with humanity, with empathy, and with the understanding that regardless of what position they may be occupying in the organisation, they are just as human as you are. If we treat others with disdain, we will not win with them.

3. Demystifying human diversity and inclusion and understanding the link between thoughts, behaviour, and consequences –

  • Human diversity is not only about race, it but is about a wide range of human factors that make each and every human unique. Racial diversity is part of diversity, but it is not the only part. No two human beings are the same. We have been incorrectly taught by socialisation to group people. Human beings are more complex than that. I always say, “He Who Generalises, Generally Lies.”
  • Diversity and inclusion is about treating everybody fairly, and not the same. It is about equitable and not equal treatment: equitable treatment is about dealing with people not according to the letter of the law, but in accordance with the unique facts of each individual.
  • Diversity thoughts, behaviour and consequences explains the causal link between our thought, actions, and the impact of our actions. It means that we have socialised in our unique way and we use the pieces of information that have accumulated are now sitting in our mental files to think about others. We need to realise that as human beings, we act what we think and our actions have consequences on ourselves and other, either positively or negatively.

According to Bongwe, here are some illogical things we do, but expect positive results when leading diversity change:

  • The glass ceiling: it defies logic to restrict a person from achieving to the highest level of their potential and performance.
  • Tokenism - a token is a substitute to the real thing: why?
  • Absence of genuine role models - people need to aspire to something attainable.
  • Diversity training - compulsory or optional? Those who would opt not to partake probably need the training more.
  • Diversity and inclusion or diversity and exclusion? Do not make obvious and detrimental mistakes.

In his concluding remarks, Bongwe said, “An organisation or society that is unfair to someone else today may be unfair to you tomorrow.”

A discussion

We thank our table hosts (below) for accepting our challenge to facilitate discussions:

  1. Andrea Minnaar Executive Head of Underwriting (Leppard and Associates)
  2. Antonia Oakes, Executive of Customer Experience (Old Mutual Insure)
  3. Asiya Swaleh, General Manager (Fulcrum Collect)
  4. Lucian Carciumaru, Chief Operating Officer (Camargue)
  5. Roxanne Griffiths, Head of Financial Lines for Sub-Saharan Africa (AIG)
  6. Tebogo Leshilo, Underwriting Head (SHA Risk Specialists)
  7. Tamara Naidoo, Head of New Business Development (Old Mutual Insure)

In the feedback session, all the table hosts agreed with the comments that Bongwe shared.

Thank you

Thank you to all the delegates who attended this event, we hope that the session inspired you, as a leader, to focus on workplace diversity management and winning work behaviours.

Thank you to our main sponsor Discovery South Africa and co-sponsors Camargue Underwriting Managers and Old Mutual Insure for making this event possible.

See photo album here