PART 1: Role of a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Champion
Traditionally, the role of a BEE Champion has been to facilitate the organization’s transformation journey through the BEE scorecard. Driving real transformation requires organizations to move beyond classical tick-box compliance thinking. The BEE champion must become a change agent within the organization and have a direct link to influence over all parts of the organization if impactful, “beyond tick box” transformation is to be facilitated.
BEE Champions within the organization should, at least be leading the conversation in the following areas of the organization’s transformation journey:
- Understanding what the organization’s contribution to broad based empowerment is, as determined by the scorecard levels.
- Understanding the organization’s ownership status, for example: black owned > 50% or engendered > 30% black women ownership.
- Clearly articulating the organization’s intent to transform – a well detailed transformation strategy.
Over and above understanding the BEE contributor status level of the company and the plan to achieve it, the BEE champions role has evolved and become far more nuanced and involved with corporate communications and culture.
BEE Champions should be core to the development and execution of the transformation strategy and be allowed to guide processes that influence the organization’s standpoint, be it in
- current or most recent empowerment positions and
- communications with external stakeholders, such as customers
- developing a workplace culture that supports company values and reflects commitment to transformation.
It is crucial that the BEE Champion is always involved in internal and external stakeholder engagement and in crafting communication to ensure that all parts of the transformation process that the organization is going through are covered. By developing a transformation narrative and driving it internally through strong communication channels, the BEE champion is unequivocally linked to creating, maintaining, and influencing company culture.
The public outcry over insensitive and/or tone-deaf advertisements we have seen in the last year is demonstrative of what misalignment between a BEE Champion and the internal communications teams can cause. The repercussions of such organizational failures can be an immense drawback, given that it takes time to fully transform any organization and just a single moment to destroy the positive impact of the transformation journey. Additionally, such failures might lead employees to doubt the organization’s commitment to transformation, negatively impacting on company culture.
For any organization to be seen in a good light, and as BEE champions are executing their transformation strategy, certain key areas such as internal communications have to be in-sync and aligned to the transformation journey and what is portrayed to the market and other external stakeholders. It is also imperative that the workplace culture be one that supports open and meaningful communications and dialogue.
For successful internal communications and culture that advance transformation, a process of change needs to be activated as per the five key points below:
Use a tool that facilitates the efficient, free flow of transformation information – This is especially crucial during the pandemic, when many are working remotely and more likely to feel left of out communications loops. It is worth emphasizing the positive impact of the right internal communications platform for your organization which will:
- drastically reduce the volume of ‘noise’ through targeted messaging parameters that ensure that the information you are communicating is relevant and is being sent to the right teams
- minimize the likelihood of people missing out on updates
- create opportunities for open, fluid dialogue (platforms with comments, chats etc.)
- be able to measure and track engagement, and participation rates.
Develop an internal transformation narrative – a successful transformation narrative is one that facilitates:
- relevant informational updates to the right people
- active participation on the communication platform with leadership setting the example
- sharing of information in an open and transparent manner
- and supports the development of the company culture.
Celebrate employee success – Whether it is in the form of a shout-out, a ‘like’, or an employee spotlight article, a virtual pat on the back is a great way to publicly acknowledge your people and get them active on your platform. This type of content provides an excellent opportunity to inform people across the organization about which goals are being met, and which members of the team are collaborating well.If employees at all levels are given a means to give virtual recognition to their colleagues, internal communications can become the shared responsibility of everyone in the organization, and subsequently open up lines of communication.
Support Company Values and harness key contributors – the information that is selected for circulation, as well as the manner in which it is circulated, plays a large role in defining the company culture.Open communication and transparency, for example, means that updates should come from people at all levels of the organization. A savvy internal communication strategy will put a spotlight on the best advocates of your workplace culture. These influencers are not always in management positions: employees at any level can inspire their colleagues, and the more genuine they are, the greater the potential to inspire action.
Create a channel for honest feedback, debate and discussions – Openness is a key aspect of internal communications, especially if the goal is to connect and align teams. To promote open communication at your company, your communications strategy needs to
- and create room for regular feedback and pushback
- facilitate professional, friendly public debate
- avoid censoring or over-moderating public discussions (your people will think highly of you for not shutting down debate which can often be productive)
This internal communications strategy should run parallel with the development of an executive summary, which encapsulates the company’s transformation strategy and scorecard, so your marketing teams can consistently communicate your position with their clients.
Where the industry is unchartered, the BEE champion ought to use the transformation understanding to play a role in developing a charter for the sector, rather than leaving it to other people who might not be as informed. Most importantly, the BEE champion should also become part of the external communications team to ensure that all marketing collateral is not only socially sensitive but socially active and transformative.