In March, One Young World Southern Africa and Mckinsey hosted the first Ambassador meet up in Johannesburg for 2023 in celebration of International Women's Day. This years International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity, highlighting the need to challenge gender stereotypes, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion.
Embracing equity, means to deeply believe, value, and seek out difference as a necessary and positive element of life. To embrace equity means to understand the journey required to achieve women's equality.
To this end we ran a survey amongst the Southern Africa Ambassador Community on important topics relevant to Women's equality they wanted to address. The feedback and results received was geared toward addressing Unconscious Bias in the Workplace.
The meet up focused on the topic of Addressing Unconscious Bias and Embracing Equity in line with SDG 5, Gender Equality. The event allowed the ambassador community to participate live and virtually in Johannesburg, for a keynote speech specially given by Professor Thuli Madonsela and a powerhouse panel discussion by Malisha Awunor, People & Culture Head EOH, Peggy-Sue Khumalo, CEO of Social Enterprise Ebuhleni, Puso Thahane Associate Partner Mckinsey and proud One Young World Ambassador and CEO of SETA Energy and Water Mpho Mookapele.
The host for the day was Vandana Satgoor, One Young World Southern Africa Coordinating Ambassador, who warmly welcomed a full house of guests. The aim of the meet up was to connect, engage and inspire the One Young World Ambassador community, partners and mobilise people towards impactful change, driving the conversation on being a powerful force for social good through SDG 5 Gender Equality.
Professor Thuli Madonsela, One Young World Counsellor, Advocate, Professor of Law, the Law Trust Research chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University and former South African Public Protector gave a key note speech on the topic of Embracing Equity to Johannesburg and virtual guests.
Prof Thuli's address was inspiring and spoke about how the time to lead is now. Encouraging the audience to courageously show up as they are in our diversity to lead. Prof Thuli also implored us to challenge moments of unconscious bias and exclusion when we see and experience excellence and belonging clothed differently when it shows up, and asked the audience the important question of whether we are able to recognise and accept it?
A key takeaway that Prof Thuli left Ambassadors and guests with on leadership and Embracing Equity are Stephen Coveys lessons on the four magnificent parts of human nature that effective and great leaders nurture within themselves ,being; our physical or body intelligence (PQ), our emotional intelligence (EQ), our mental intelligence (IQ), and our spiritual intelligence (SQ). These four intelligences represent our birth-gift.
Key takeaways from the Panel
The Panel discussion was jam packed with a powerhouse speakers sharing their stories and experiences of addressing unconscious bias in the workplace and embracing equity.
Malisha Awunor shared some of the most common Unconscious Biases that are exposed in the workplace such as labelling, microaggressions, social and structural exclusion. Malisha advises that whilst oftentimes Unconscious Bias is not done in a malicious manner we do have a responsibility to create safe spaces to call out exclusionary behaviour in workplaces and teams.
Peggy-Sue Khumalo encouraged the audience to take time out to get to know and mentor someone who is different to you, or who you wouldn’t ordinarily engage with. As leaders it is important to learn and understand the realities and lived experiences of others different to oneself.
Puso Thahane stressed the importance to not be afraid in asking the questions and vocalising what employees may need to show up fully in the workplace, whether it be flexibility, time or diversity in teams, that individuals may need to be successful in the respective roles.
Mpho Mookapele shared on the importance of ensuring that underrepresented groups are not left behind when we do the work of diversity, equity and inclusion and that allyship fosters authentic inclusivity when addressing unconscious bias and embracing equity.
An extended big thank you to Mckinsey South Africa, our corporate sponsor, and the EOH project team including One Young World Advisor Geoff Rothschild and Ambassadors Geneve Kroutz and Joy Trivangalo