Gauteng Women In Insurance (GWII) hosted an inspiring Continuous Professional Development (CPD) session themed ‘Celebrating Diversity’ on 27 October, proudly sponsored by Discovery.
The powerhouse session to engage and celebrate women saw keynote speaker, Dr. Sizakele Marutlulle, a creative problem solver, intersectional strategist, brand-building expert and global speaker blow attendees minds away with her personal journey, insights and experience of diversity.
Insights of diversity
In referring to examples, Dr Marutlulle said, “I believe that diversity helps organisations make audacious jumps - a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks - a deliberate effort to deep dive as leaders… in our cultures, how we speak, formulate, design, etc.”
“You are this wonderful gift of uniqueness, and you are you.” We are all different. However, we bring unique talents and distinctiveness to the whole.
Diversity is also about ‘being different together’... “If we choose to create together, there are things we have to do together, with a shared understanding of shared values, deal breakers etc. If we want to create community and diversity we have to celebrate, elevate, support and extend compassion, be understanding, open and honest. We have to put other’s needs first,” she added.
“Stereotypes are dangerous and disrespectful. Organisations need to look across the whole value chain, for example, in product design, in processes and policies etc., to identify where diversity lacks,” she continued.
“Gender diversity, racial diversity and all diversity done right across the value chain enables organsiations to keep pace with culture. If you understand what matters to individuals now, then you can sell products and services to people in different life stages or problems. Diversity done right also offers growth and resilience (a fortitude and sense of groundedness, knowing that you are relying on dynamic and diverse teams). It also unleashes creativity… an unconventional way to put the pieces together to connect. It helps us and reminds us that we have a shared future. When we do diversity right, we also understand that what goes wrong, for example, in marketing will also affect sales etc. It is like a ripple effect. We cannot think of ourselves alone, but everything as a whole, so that together we can move in one direction,” she emphasised.
“So, move the conversation of diversity beyond the optics. If we get stuck only on the optics, we miss the opportunity to do something magical. Move the needle further, to involve inclusion, to craft a wonderful canvas that we as teams can share and display to the world,” she concluded.
A panel discussion
This, followed by a panel discussion, led by Precious Nduli, Head of Technical Marketing and Marketing at Discovery Insure, whereby the inspiring women of Discovery shared their stories and insights into celebrating diversity, their roles and positive affirmations.
Women entering the industry
On the topic of women entering the industry, Bhavna Maharaj, Head of Product Development at Discovery Insure said her advice would be for women to be open to trying different skills and paths when entering the industry.
“It is about learning and unlearning during the journey and your career. Get a mentor or a coach that can really be eye opening for your career. Join bodies such as GWII which will enable you to empower yourself on topical issues and think out of the box for opportunities to build your network,” she said.
In terms of motivation, passion and maintaining a strong mindset, Maharaj said she feels passion comes naturally. “If your role has the power to make a tangible difference and if you have that conviction in your role, then passion comes naturally,” she added.
“For me, positive thinking, positive affirmations, goal setting, vision boarding etc., are some of the tools I use. I believe doing things I love, being with family, experiencing new experiences etc., enables me to be a richer person, which then goes with me into my professional life,” continued Maharaj.
Mentorship, challenges and setbacks
On the topic of mentorship and challenges, Kgodiso Mokonyane, Head of Strategy and Ancillary Products at Discovery Insure said mentorship and sponsorship are important, but it is also about finding the right fit that connects with you.
“Understand who you are, what your values are and what values you can add to the organisation. You can have formal and informal mentors, men or women. Different companies have different cultures. So, find what works for you. Constantly challenge yourself and stretch yourself to see what limits you can achieve. Certain roles make it a bit easier to find a sponsor. But you also need to show that you are valuable,” she said.
When it comes to challenges and setbacks, Mokonyane said, “I love challenges. I’ve always challenged myself. Of course, there will be setbacks but it about the mindset of trying to overcome the challenges that gets you through. Mindset plays an important role, because of this, I’m always optimistic and know that I can overcome challenges.”
Diversity and inclusion
Shanna Caromba, COO of Discovery Insure Personal Lines said she has always had a passion for people and learning.
“It is so important to make sincere connections and interactions with people and understanding people helps you work better with teams. Diversity is very important to me. I want to see people excel. I have worked in a male dominated industry, and I believe it is critical that women support women. It is also important to build our future leaders. The thirst of doing different things and learning different things allows us to grow, she said.
In her concluding remarks on diversity and inclusion, Caromba said women should be open and honest and look for opportunities.
Maharaj said women should find the courage to find their inner voices and learn to speak up. “The person who stands in your way most of the time is yourself. Celebrate the small and big things and take that moment of gratitude.”
“Whatever stage you are in, in your career, be curious and be driven… this will give you perspective,” concluded Mokonyane.
“Aim for amazing, then you will do amazing everyday,” noted Dr Marutlulle, in her response.
See photo album here