Forging Relationships in Corporate, Academia, NGO and Government

For more than a century, Chevron has played a significant role in the South African economy. Continuing the relationship and respecting the culture, the company follows a deep-rooted process for addressing the complexities and opportunities of diversity and inclusion.

Chevron’s Office of Global Diversity joined forces with global D & I leader True Blue Inclusion of Washington, D.C. last year to host a first-of-its-kind cross-industry conference in Johannesburg. The impact of the Thought Leadership Forum was the beginning of sustained dialogue on tough issues around transformation.

That conference was the precursor for opening dialogue on the challenges and solutions of developing a robust, sustainable “Black South African Talent Pipeline.” It was the first forum of its kind in post-apartheid South Africa, bringing together transformation leaders from across industries, academia, government and non-governmental organizations.

“I can think of no better time, place or group of professionals to tackle the very important subject of black South African talent that the people I spent time with wrestling with both the opportunities and solutions we all must consider,” said Shariq Yosufzai, Chevron’s Global Chief of Diversity.

Today, those attendees have built relationships and are sharing best approaches in the recruitment, retention and development of talent. It’s making a difference today in employment equity for businesses and people in South Africa with a positive impact on the talent pool.

 Development of Black South African Talent – A Call to Action

“Being the first in anything requires risk, vision, passion and a desire to be a change maker and leader,” said Carlton Yearwood, senior partner with True Blue Inclusion. “Accepting the challenge that the problem, and the solution, is bigger than the success of a single entity required a new and innovative approach to the longstanding challenge of early skill development, early talent identification, school-to-work transition, and leadership development and retention,” he added.

Thirty participants from industry, academic institutions, and nongovernment organizations came together for the conference. Under Chatham House Rule they intimately shared their approaches for improving and building of a more viable and sustainable talent pipeline. Participants engaged in new dialogue about real and perceived barriers, hatched a vision of possible solutions and put in place an action plan.

Identifying Pathways to Improve Metrics

The conference group collectively identified pathways for moving forward to improve metrics of black South Africans in leadership roles to include the key changes associated with women. Relationships were built, subject matter expertise shared and leveraged, and it evolved into sharing approaches to attract, develop and retain talent across businesses.

Some 20 years ago, South Africa closed the doors on apartheid. Newly elected President Nelson Mandela’s dream was to unite all the peoples of South Africa through the sweeping Truth and Reconciliation Act. Much has been accomplished, but much still remains to be done. “Staunch leaders with passion and vision will be required to continue to push their organizations, academic institutions, and governments to achieve parity at all levels,” Yearwood said.

This forum provided the opportunity for participants to deepen existing relationships and create new ones among individuals committed to improving the back talent pipeline in South Africa. It resulted in a new comprehensive networking system for ongoing future value. It also enabled participants to stress test their own approaches through the supportive critique of other participants and facilitators, while building on exchange and insight into the innovative solutions developed by others.

Participants benchmarked current strategies and metrics across companies and sectors, and derived an analytically rich understanding of how talent pipelines feed, divert, or lose key people. “Those in the private sector developed a better understanding of government policy development, while those in education and the public sector gained insights into the needs of business,” Yearwood said.