Yes, Humans are Still Evolving. Imagine That

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By Malcolm Horne

Across every division, Broll is embracing change. By actively exploring and visualising the future, we can proactively place ourselves at the forefront of transformation within the property sector.

The much quoted and ever-evolving fourth industrial revolution in which we already find ourselves, is driving both the challenges and opportunities faced by each and every one of our divisions. Together, we are embracing new technology in order to provide a holistic solution that draws together property investment services, facilities management, occupier services, property broking, valuation and advisory services, research, shopping centre management and more.

But we cannot risk this becoming one dimensional.

As the “tech revolution” gathers pace, we cannot lose sight of “human evolution”. In Africa, unemployment, food insecurity and poverty are daily realities. Thus technology must be the answer rather than a distant ideal.

Our continent has one of the world’s highest concentrations of smartphones. We have skipped some tech steps and progressed speedily. Now we need to take the same approach with people.

Many companies have great policies and do plenty of PR around equality, transparency and transformation, highlighting what is often a clichéd “speak up and have a voice” rhetoric. Unfortunately, this is often mere lip service and the true hearts of companies remain murky.

When I started my journey 40 years ago, South Africa’s workplace was very white male dominated. It was the exception if a woman (usually white) found herself in a managerial or business leadership role. Forty years prior to that, when my mother tried to make a career for herself, she had to resign when she became pregnant and was expected to remain at home and raise her children!

We’ve fortunately come a long way. Trailblazers across all business spectrums are claiming their rights and holding management to account. But, as I’ve seen during my travels, many countries are still bastions for old mindsets.

We need to see the evolution of people not as a traditional or cultural disruption, but as a means of leap frogging development for all sexes and religions. Ultimately, this will birth a generation that progresses the narrative to develop our continent.

Maybe the Steinhoff saga, the VBS matter, the issues discussed at the Zondo commission would never have been aired openly without some progress.

But, still, we have a long way to go when it comes to allowing our people to speak the truth to those with power. Remember that the integrity of your company will be judged by your openness. The heart of your company does not lie in its value statement, but within your leadership. Your people should not fear living out these values in a non-threatening and constructive environment.

Technology will not teach you this or grow your team. Instead, ethics will drive the sustainable evolution of a company culture that will become the core of your brand.

We cannot keep the culture of engagement behind closed doors. Going forward, highly complex social human engagements will not only come from within but also be influenced by technology and machine learning.

Horne is the CEO at Broll Property Group


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