Mosima Selekisho commenced her career as a Librarian at the City Library in Johannesburg and then joined the world of executive search in 2000 as a Research Associate and Research Director. She then moved to a JSE listed company as an Executive Searc...
16 January 2020
Mosima Selekisho, leader of Signium’s Diversity and Inclusion team, gives expert advice on communicating the benefits of an inclusive recruitment strategy.
What is your understanding of diversity?
My understanding of diversity is that we need to acknowledge, accept and understand that we are all different, that we come from a variety of backgrounds, and that having a variety of people is ultimately a huge strength and benefit to all organisations.
What is a common misunderstanding about diversity?
The reason why the concept of diversity is often misunderstood is because many people are motivated by fear. Fear always makes one think that someone who is different to them might do things better, or that they might present a disadvantage to the things they want to do. This is a misconception I often encounter.
Is there something that prevents companies from being inclusive?
It’s often a lack of understanding about why they are supposed to be inclusive. If you introduce a change to any company without giving people an understanding of the importance of the change, they will be resistant. We must never forget to communicate the benefits of diversity, the strength and effectiveness that true diversity generates.
Why do you compare a rainbow with diversity?
The image of a rainbow speaks of the fact that everyone brings a different colour to an organisation. Importantly, the colours are not a threat to each other – red can never take over yellow – and they need each other to create the rainbow. It’s an image that says we need each other and together we can achieve more than we could on our own.
How do you communicate the benefits of diversity and inclusion in business?
Clients always buy into what you believe in and into the energy that you bring. Before you can even sell it to your clients, you need to believe in it and to live it yourself. Then clients will buy into the message because you are telling them something authentic that you have experienced. Some clients will still be resistant and then it becomes your responsibility to educate them and share real world examples of the tangible benefits for business.
What does an ideal organisation or Board look like?
An ideal board or organisation should look like its strategy. If a board looks contrary to the company’s vision and mission, it will never drive the organisation to where it is supposed to go.
It’s first important to understand exactly what an organisation’s beliefs and mission are, and then base their diversity and inclusion strategy on these wider values. You can’t just walk in and say ‘you need to add more women’ if it doesn’t reflect their core values or ethos.
So in my view, we should not enforce quotas which say ‘a board is supposed to have three women, four men, etc’ but rather every board should compose the people that reflect the beliefs of the company. All organisations need to first go on a journey towards authentic diversity that reflects their core values, and then implementation such as board restructuring should flow naturally from this.