Business

Discovery challenges businesses to mentor the youth and entrepreneurs

The Mentorship with Purpose Masterclass series runs until July 2 2021

Discovery's global mentorship programme aims to strengthen leadership capacity in schools, small businesses and civil society.
Discovery's global mentorship programme aims to strengthen leadership capacity in schools, small businesses and civil society.
Image: Supplied/Mimagephotography

Discovery founders Adrian Gore and Barry Swartzberg launched Discovery’s Mentorship with Purpose Masterclass series on Monday, June 28. The series is a global mentorship programme that aims to strengthen leadership capacity in schools, small businesses and civil society. 

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 front-line support in providing primary health care and education. In the changing environment brought on 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 how to innovate through a 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. 

Discovery has also challenged mentors from all sectors of business, the public and private sectors to pledge their time towards mentorship in SA and beyond. A Guinness World Record for the highest number of pledges received for mentoring in 24 hours is under way. Swartzberg has called on his counterparts at the JSE top 40 companies to pledge to mentor 100 young people, emerging entrepreneurs and people making changes in the economy. This initiative will run for a year.

Watch the video below:

Mentorship can make the difference SA needs today 

At the virtual launch event, Gore said: “Research tells us that mentorship is a fundamental way to transfer skills and it has a huge 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 SA. I encourage you to pledge your time. You will find it gratifying and make a profound and lasting impact,” he said.

Launch day panel members include Busi Mavuso, CEO of Business Leadership SA; and professor Glenda Gray, the first woman president and CEO of the SA Medical Research Council.

Mavuso said: “The lens through which I engage with mentorship is to be deliberate, particularly in grooming young women in corporate SA. 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’s 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 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.”

Gray said, “I did have male mentors who noticed a spark in me and it was valuable training, but it’s so important to have female mentors. I’ve tried to do this with women scientists and doctors over the years. It’s been so encouraging and I know 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: “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 board chair 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 one-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’s our duty as leaders and experienced individuals to extend our skill sets beyond our businesses.”

The Mentorship with Purpose Masterclass series runs until July 2 2021. Pledge to be a mentor and watch out for highlights from the event on Discovery’s social accounts.

This article was paid for by Discovery SA.

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