Prioritising Transformation, Diversity and Inclusion

Posted on 23 August 2022

Transformation is a word that is bandied around a lot – especially across South African businesses. With the recent release of a Transformation publication by Mediclinic, we look at what this word means within the Mediclinic Southern Africa context, by talking to Gale Shabangu, Chief Transformation Officer.

On taking on the role more than two years ago, Gale indicates that her decision was largely based on the weight and importance they placed on the role – a position that is on the executive committee of Mediclinic Southern Africa. She explains, “To change and move a company, there has to be clear intention from above. There needs to be the necessary executive authority to make decisions and implement required initiatives across the business. By fulfilling this role at an Executive level, I am able to implement the board’s vision across the business.  Sustainable transformation requires a long term vision and drive.”

Mediclinic has put together a Transformation publication. One that speaks to their success stories, highlighting where there is room to improve, and also emphasises that transformation has to be a journey. With an organisation the size of Mediclinic, with such a broad footprint across Southern Africa, there are always things that can be improved but she states the reason for producing this piece is to celebrate the successes that have already been achieved. “It is also not just about one thing – it is about everything. Transformation is about a diverse workforce, led by a diverse leadership team and serving diverse patients by providing world-class patient experience. I feel like our Transformation publication is a testimony to where we are in this journey.”

But transformation has many different connotations. “To me it is about understanding that diversity makes us stronger. It makes us more agile, and allows us to develop out of the box solutions when we have different perspectives solving a challenge.” She explains that it also means that the business encourages new ideas, new perspectives and new outlooks to spread through the organisation at all levels. It also means that in any situation, employees are conscious of how their own perspective influences how they show up and behave – just as another individual’s perspective may impact theirs.

In taking stock, Gale’s approach is about appreciating the current diversity present in the business – “We have started celebrating different days on the calendar, such as Youth Day, Heritage Day, Pride Month or International Men’s Day, highlighting how our business is already an example of different backgrounds.” Mediclinic is also focused on driving greater understanding across the business, by implementing an online Diversity and Inclusion Learning Module, which allows each employee to assess their own perspective, and how they can further consider others and be more inclusive. In addition, Gale says that they are looking at all areas of the business, from suppliers to specialist practices to training, to further understand how best to support diversity and inclusion and enhance growth from a transformation perspective. “We have a number of success stories already being told, but there is always room for more,” she notes.

Transformation takes time, but there are often easy wins. For her it is people changing the way they approach the issue of transformation, diversity and inclusion. By providing an online course, where each employee works through the topics at their own pace, they are asked challenging questions about their own experiences and biases. They get to assess where their experience will possibly differ from another’s and the value that an inclusive approach can mean for a team. Success is when employees can start breaking down the group think that occurs in large businesses, creating value by diverse and engaging conversations.

This approach is also about getting individuals’ buy in. Gale explains, “Motivation for change is always about ‘what is in it for me’ – we need to bring transformation into our teams through a ‘pull’ strategy, where teams seek diversity to succeed.” If the business focuses on the benefits that transformation brings to a team – that it is not about negative repercussions, but positive career expansion, enriching work environment as well as the inevitable benefits of an effective team that operates with empathy. Her desire is that employees will feel like they have space to have open conversations about hard topics – and the freedom to voice issues when they have a concern.

This in turn has a positive impact on ‘what is in it for our clients’ – by being more understanding and allowing others to positively impact each other, employees can carry over the positive working environment to Mediclinic patients. They will sense the natural empathy and understanding from those who are caring for them.



Published in Business