Meeting the heroes changing business for good in South Africa

It was inspiration meeting some of Virgin Active South Africa’s 100% Human at Work heroes in Johannesburg today.

Virgin is a family and I want to see people thriving and achieving their highest potential – which naturally is good for business. 100% Human At Work is all about seeing people as human beings and not resources to exploit.

It was great to see this project in action and to meet the people who really are changing business for good. I found some of their stories very moving, so I thought I would share them with you. 

Kele has been through a life-changing tragedy when her mother, father and daughter were murdered. She told me how she is usually a very positive person but struggled with depression after she lost her loved ones. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must have been for her and what she went through but I was glad that she said some of the best support she’s received is from the people she works with. She told me her daughter was a bookworm and read 21 books in a year and I found it so incredibly moving that her goal in life is to give back and teach people to read in memory of her daughter. She told me how important it is that kids equip themselves with the power of knowledge so they can become the next CEOs. Her resilience in the face of such a tragedy was really inspiring and I’m so proud to have people like Kele work for Virgin Active in South Africa.

I was also told a story of overcoming fears from Jane, who has recently learned to swim. Jane used to pretend she was ill and would feign a headache just so she wouldn't have to start her swimming lessons. On her first one, she said she was so scared she’d drown and her whole body was shaking and she thought she might not make it out the pool at the end of the lesson. The first session was really difficult for Jane but by the end of it she could float and felt more comfortable – and after two months she could swim on her own. Trying new things and conquering fears is a great way to expand your mind and your horizons. I love teaching people to swim – I once tried to teach Archbishop Tutu to swim and it was incredibly rewarding and great fun.

Jeofrey told me how he’d wanted to work for Virgin Active for four years and cried tears of joy when he found out he had a job. He had started working as a cleaner for a company contracted by Virgin Active, but they noticed his hard work and gave him a job when one become available.

Some members of the team are even saving lives – Juliette told me how she performed CPR during a medical emergency at the health club.

I’m really proud of all the Virgin Active family in South Africa for putting people first. I hope some of these 100% Human At Work stories have inspired you – please share how you’d like to see your workplace become more human. 


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