Industrial Psychologist, Public Speaker and Artist Manager, Kim-Lee Wentzel-Ricketts is intentional about elevating the conversation around representation and inclusivity. Her fearless approach has earned her awards including the New Affinity Group Award as well as the South African Diversity and Inclusivity Awards 2022.
Glamour: Please talk to us about your approach to inclusivity and representation?
Kim-Lee: I believe that it is important to create safe spaces where everyone feels that they can be themselves and belong. We are all different and have something unique that we bring to the table. By drawing on these differences, we get to not only grow, but learn and create inclusive spaces that are a true representation of the multi-cultural lifestyles in society. My approach to inclusivity and representation is not only limited to diversity of race, age, and gender, but more broadly focused on diversity of ideas, thinking and skills.
Glamour: What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered with regards to creating spaces for integration?
Kim-Lee: Change has been the biggest challenge. Not everyone is at the same starting point in terms of their understanding and willingness to embrace change and giving up their comfort zone to experience the new ways in which we can exist, integrate, and operate. I have also experienced a reluctance to give up and create the spaces for others as the thinking is that by giving up that space, there would be a sense of redundancy as opposed to seeing it as an opportunity to grow, learn, and push yourself to the next phase of your career.
Glamour: Why is it important for you to create integration opportunities for communities that have been marginalized?
Kim-Lee: My main objective is to create spaces where people know that they have a voice, a seat at the table, surrounded by ears that are willing to listen. In the new world of work it is important to ensure that environments are created where people feel safe to bring their full selves to work without facing prejudice. I feel it is important that people feel empowered, enabled, engaged, and that they belong – this is how we get the best out of people and draw from their passion whilst giving them a sense of purpose.
Glamour: Please unpack your approach to impact?
Kim-Lee: To me, impact is directly related to passion and being aware of how you show up. The energy you carry must always be conducive to uplifting and enabling those around you. My key components for the impact I like to create is to be aware and conscious of the energy I bring into a space or situation as well as what I leave behind. Impact is not what gets said in front of you, it is what gets said about you when you leave the room.
Glamour: You wear different hats, what would you say is the common thread?
Kim-Lee: Consistency, drive, authenticity, passion and purpose – with this combination I will have conviction in who I am, what I bring, and the change that I am able to affect.
Glamour: Apart from inclusivity and representation, what other issues resonate with you?
Kim-Lee: Gender-based violence, people empowerment, skills development, youth development, equity and equality, and belonging.
Glamour: Who would you like to invite to the table?
Kim-Lee: Marginalized communities such as LGBTQIA+, Women in Leadership, Youth, Public (Government) and Private (Corporates) Organisations to have the conversations.
Glamour: How would you describe the tone of the conversation around mental health in 2022?
Kim-Lee: The conversation is becoming more desensitised through organisations such as ICAS, Cape Mental Health and SADAG etc. who have made it easier for people to come forward and seek help when faced with instances where their mental wellbeing is being compromised. There are more conversations within and by Corporates inviting people to speak up and removing the stigma, realising that it affects all of us in different ways highlighting that to be of service to others, we need to start by taking care of ourselves first – you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Glamour: What’s your approach to wellness?
Kim-Lee: For me wellness and wellbeing work together. “Wellbeing” focuses on the broader holistic dimensions of a well-lived life whereas “Wellness” refers to a healthy lifestyle and is more focused on physical health. The ultimate goal is to have an equal balance to ensure we have a holistic approach to taking care of ourselves.
Glamour: What does it mean to you to be 'a woman in charge?'
Kim-Lee: Being a ‘woman in charge’ is not about dictatorship, but rather about leadership – leading through your vision and having empathy (work hard and play hard). Leadership for me is about influencing and guiding by identifying and elevating the strengths of others and turning their developmental aspects into learning opportunities. It is about understanding the responsibility of the shoes that you fill, as it will become the legacy for the next generation of empowered women to step into. A true woman in charge understands that they are not the end goal but rather another brick laid in the foundation for others to build upon.
Glamour: What's your advice to women who would like to occupy space but are held back by fear?
Kim-Lee: Just start. Believe in your ideas and don’t be defined by your setbacks – instead use these to elevate your vision and what you set out to achieve. Know that when you choose to take up space, you represent a line of women who have come before you and you are setting up the platform and springboard for the next generation of women.
Remember that you have the choice: “Forget Everything and Run OR Face Everything and Rise” – Zig Ziglar