Swartzberg says: “Through our own corporate sustainability initiatives such as the Discovery Fund and the Employee Volunteer Programme, we have seen the tremendous resilience of the people and organisations who have been frontline support in provision of primary healthcare and education. In the changing environment brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many of these beneficiaries have requested additional support in the form of knowledge sharing, specifically on how to lead in a crisis and importantly how to innovate through crisis.”
Discovery has organised the five-day programme of masterclasses that brings together global thought leaders. They will provide insight on a range of topics to the recipients of its Corporate Sustainability Initiatives. These classes will later be made available on social media.
In addition, Discovery has challenged mentors from all sectors of business, the public and private sectors to pledge their time toward mentorship in South Africa and beyond. A Guinness World Record for the highest number of pledges received for mentoring in 24 hours is underway.
Mentorship can make the difference South Africa needs today
At the virtual launch event, Discovery Chief Executive and founder, Adrian Gore, said: “Research tells us that mentorship is a fundamental way to transfer skills and it has a massive network effect. Mentorship is not linear – it actually allows organisations to grow and succeed. This transfer of skills is how economic growth happens. We have the skills, at scale, to make mentorship work in South Africa. I encourage you to pledge your time. You will find it gratifying and make a profound and lasting impact,” he said.
Launch day panellists include Busi Mavuso, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa and Professor Glenda Gray, the first woman President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC).
Mavuso said: “The lens through which I engage with mentorship is to be deliberate, particularly in grooming young women in corporate South Africa. As the incumbent leaders, the ones who come before the young leaders in SA, it is up to us to address the issues that come with corporate roles. For me, it is to create a mindset shift in young women. It starts at home, in the conversations we have with young girls. These can be the biggest barriers for young girls because self-limiting messages become self-fulfilling prophecies. The mind is a very powerful instrument. So if you are given messages all your life as a woman to not be too vocal and to not be more successful than a man, those things will trip you up. That is the mindset I’d first like to shift in the young people.”
Professor Gray adds that it is also her priority to mentor young women, because she did not have women mentors as a young scientist. “I did have male mentors who noticed a spark in me and it was valuable training, but it is so important to have female mentors. I’ve tried to do this with women scientists and doctors over the years. It has been so encouraging and I know that my mentees will do greater things and exceed whatever I have done as a scientist. My message to them is to never be scared, to innovate and think on their feet.”
A greater purpose for global business
Discovery’s Head of Sustainability, Ruth Lewin, said: “I believe that we all have a role to play in addressing issues of poverty and inequality. Volunteerism through mentorship provides us with an opportunity to address a range of social, economic and environmental challenges.”
Lewin – who is also the President of the International Association of Volunteer Effort, a global volunteerism body – says mentorship is an essential part of how business operates in the world today. “Volunteerism is no longer the once-off, feel good, team building activity which characterised it in the past, but rather an integral value which is embedded in how business is done – it is not divorced from other business activities. It is our duty as leaders and experienced individuals to extend our skillsets beyond our businesses.” DM/BM