Savannah's women create a culture of safety and quality

Those that know Savannah will agree that empowering women forms part of the company’s DNA. Two of Savannah’s values ‘Curious’ and ‘Can-do’ have women written all over them, writes Carike van der Merwe, quality leader at Savannah.

I admit, sometimes our curiosity can get the better of us, but mostly we just happen to ask the right “how” and “why” questions to also solve issues around the workplace. When it comes to the can-do attitude, let’s not get too technical about it, but science has proved that women survive crises better than men.1

In last year’s Women’s Month feature we focused on our head office team. This year we have chosen to highlight our quality and warehouse team and how Savannah empowers women in a warehouse environment.

Carike van der Merwe with Savannah’s warehouse team: Nonhlanhla Mncube (aka Grace), Lerato Moloko and Pretty Radebe

Attention to detail

As quality leader, if you want to create a culture of quality and safety, you need to involve the entire team, especially those who make things happen on the ground. When it comes to audits, it’s all about “say what you do, do what you say – and have the records to prove it”. However, knowing this is very different from applying it (like most things in life). So, if you don’t have a team that crosses all the Ts and dots all the Is, you’re in trouble.

To get buy-in from your team, it’s important to help people find their passion within the workplace. When we find purpose and passion at our workplace, it results in a contagious energy that inspires people around us.

I came across this quote by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. which says it all (and I’ve changed man to woman for the purpose of women’s month):

If a woman is called to be a street sweeper, she should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. She should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did her job well.”

What an honour it is to work with a warehouse team that takes pride in what they do – and for some, they have truly found their calling.

The power of leading by example

Lerato Moloko, warehouse SHEQ coordinator, had this to say about her role at Savannah: “It is a great honour to be  part of the Savannah family and given the opportunity of leading OHS at the warehouse, is my highest achievement thus far. The team has always been supportive of my studies and thus, great results were achieved. Given an opportunity to be trained by accredited external bodies and being able to attend OHS Africa conferences are some of the highlights and has helped my career growth tremendously.

“When working in a male dominated industry as a SHEQ professional in a warehouse environment, it’s all about setting the right attitude – leading by example, regular communication and being accountable. I believe these are SHEQ qualities one must have to succeed. I encourage women to pursue their dreams. It’s a profession that does not discriminate, but rather develops your leadership skills and encourages women in leadership roles.”

And what a pleasure it is to work with someone who takes so much pride in what she does.

Albert Einstein once said: “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid”.

May I encourage companies to focus on finding the ‘genius’ in their women this Women’s Month!


  1. Women survive crisis better than men, 9 January 2018

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