By Savina Harrilall, Chief People Officer at Mukuru
At a time when so many companies simply view success through a financial lens, it has become imperative to take on a more people-centred, purpose-led approach to business. By emphasising the importance of people to operations, leaders look beyond profits. They must focus on creating value for their employees, their customers, and also the communities in which they operate.
At Mukuru, we have taken this to heart and renewed our focus on our people. Skills development is a significant pillar of this people strategy. It is not about hoarding ‘top talent’; instead, the company views all employees as gifted individuals. Organisations can liken this to seeing their employees as different kinds of lightbulbs. Some are traditional bulbs, while others can be power-saving LEDs. Of course, there are even those who are Christmas lights. It therefore comes down to recognising the unique talents of each employee and identifying those roles where they can best ‘shine’ to their own abilities.
To ensure a purpose-led ethos, employees should be encouraged to take responsibility for their personal and professional development. What has worked well for Mukuru is hackathons and collaboration with institutions developing young tech talent. This more integrated approach to development, focusing not just on creating promotability but about expanding existing knowledge and skills are enabling people to be their best selves at the organisation.
Underlying this people-centric ethos is the belief in a diverse workforce. A diverse skill set is not only a strength but a necessity for a company that wishes to be purpose-led. With 56% female representation and employees ranging from high school graduates to PhD holders, Mukuru understands the unique perspectives and innovative ideas that such diversity brings.
Being a purpose-led organisation is about understanding that to lead is to serve. Leaders must work to connect business strategies with their implementation and bridge the gap between employees and the culture of the business. It is about becoming deeply involved in defining the company’s culture and values to set the tone for the rest of the workforce to follow.
Of course, any business who wants to become purpose-led must also look externally. It is about having a deep connection to the territories and communities in which they operate and serving as cultural ambassadors and enablers of positive change. This connection comes from decision-makers understanding that it is about more than just being a business. It comes down to being an enabler of dreams.
Being a purpose-led organisation is about celebrating relationships. Whether these are relationships with customers, within teams, or with the wider community, each one is personal. At Mukuru, the pride employees take in their work and the pride they feel in wearing their branded gear are examples to the powerful bond they share with the company and the belief they have in its purpose.
Again, this is where a strong leadership team is essential in transforming into a purpose-led business. These are the individuals who must embody the company’s mission and values. They must lead from the front and create a culture where all the employees feel connected to the organisation. It is more important than ever given how hybrid work has become normalised.
All of this comes down to putting people at the heart of operations. Organisations therefore need to value their people’s unique skills while also empowering employees to realise their full potential. This focus on people will enable purpose-led organisations like Mukuru to not only make a difference in a business environment, but also change the world for the better.