Press release -
Discovery challenges businesses to mentor school principals and entrepreneurs – and attempts a Guinness World Record
28 June 2021 – Discovery founders Adrian Gore and Barry Swartzberg have launched a mentorship programme with the aim of strengthening leadership capacity in schools, small businesses and civil society. The Mentorship with Purpose campaign, which puts a spotlight on volunteerism, welcomes individuals across all sectors of business, the public and private sectors to pledge their time as a mentor. Discovery is attempting a Guinness World Record for the most pledges received for a mentoring campaign in 24 hours! The window closes on Tuesday 29 June 2021 at 9am. Volunteers can opt to donate any number of hours towards the initiative, to mentor school principals and entrepreneurs.
At the virtual launch event, Discovery Chief Executive, 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.” He called for people to pledge their time, not only because they would find it gratifying but because they have the power to make a profound and lasting impact.
Swartzberg added: “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 the company’s Corporate Sustainability Initiatives, and the classes will later be made available on social media.
Mentorship can make the difference South Africa needs today
Launch day panellists included Busisiwe 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 added 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.”
Discovery’s Head of Corporate 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 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 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.”
The Mentorship with Purpose Masterclass Series runs until 2 July 2021. Mentorship pledges for the Guinness World Record attempt, need to be logged by Tuesday 29 June 2021 at 9am.
Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, savings and investment and wellness markets. Since inception in 1992, Discovery has been guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. This has manifested in its globally recognised Vitality Shared-Value insurance model, active in 27 markets with over 20 million members. The model is exported and scaled through the Global Vitality Network, an alliance of some of the largest insurers across key markets including AIA (Asia), Ping An (China), Generali (Europe), Sumitomo (Japan), John Hancock (US), Manulife (Canada) and Vitality Life & Health (UK, wholly owned). Discovery trades on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange as DSY.
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