Richelle pursues her dream to help others reach theirs

Richelle pursues her dream to help others reach theirs

At RCL FOODS, we believe our people are our biggest asset – which is why inspiring great people is one of our key strategic thrusts. But how do we inspire greatness in people? By encouraging them to be themselves while constantly stretching themselves to fulfil their true potential. As a person living with a disability, Richelle Davis is one of our most inspiring examples of what this means.

Read what Richelle has to say about her journey with RCL FOODS >

Who is Richelle Davis?

I was born and raised in Durban and have been wheelchair-bound from birth due to  Cerebral Palsy which has affected the movement area of my brain. Having said that, I have a remarkable mother who always told me I’m no different from anyone else in terms of what I can achieve. I am ambitious, driven and hard-working, and my greatest passion is developing people and assisting them to reach their full potential. Outside of work, I am extremely family orientated, I adore music and I love the beach and eating out.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started working for RCL FOODS as a receptionist in 2010. I knew that facilitating my own learning and self-development was paramount to my future career prospects, so I completed a Higher Certificate in Human Resource Management in 2018. In 2019 she was then given the awesome opportunity to start a six-month human resources (HR) internship with the company. Ten months later, despite my initial limited knowledge and experience in the field, they took a chance on me and offered me a permanent position as Learning & Development Coordinator in the Professional Skills team. I have been mentored and guided by key people such as Barney Khumalo, Tasmin Coleman and Charmaine Boshoff who believed in me every step of the way.

How has working in Learning & Development (L&D) fuelled your passion and helped others find theirs?

I have always been passionate about developing people and making a difference, in even the smallest way. Seeing all the enriching programmes and interventions run by the L&D Department made me even more aware of the significance of learning and I developed an even greater passion for it. As a result, I recently registered for my first year of a Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resource Management. Through my personal journey as well as the dynamic and passionate department I work for, I am thrilled to be able to play a role in helping others realise their dreams through learning. Many of us think the only way to get ahead is through formal studies, however there are many other methods of learning available. I would encourage others to be “More Brave” as one of our values says, by finding out what options are available to you.

As a 37-year-old woman with a disability, I think my personal journey has shown two things: You are never too old to pursue your dreams, and you cannot just expect opportunities to fall into your lap.

As a person with a disability, what are some of the challenges you face in the workplace – and how has RCL FOODS assisted with some of these?

For the last five years I have had a monthly doctor’s appointment during the week which I cannot miss. Irrespective of which manager I am reporting to, I have always been allowed to leave work slightly early to get to my appointments. In this way RCL FOODS has shown it is accommodating, understanding and compassion towards people with disabilities. One challenge I face is that our disabled toilets at Head Office are too high for a disabled person to access, and RCL FOODS has taken my feedback on board and is looking into a solution.  

How can a company foster a more inclusive and diverse culture?

People are often afraid to disclose their disability in the workplace, and many have disabilities which cannot be seen. If they are made to feel they belong despite their disability, employees will have more courage to be open about it and the challenges that they face. I believe that the key to an inclusive culture lies in educating all employees about disability and fostering a value for all forms of diversity. That way we will be able to live out our value of “respect for people” while feeling comfortable to be ourselves.

What was your proudest moment at RCL FOODS?

I have two: being offered the HR internship, and finally realising my dream of working permanently in the Human Resources field.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to join RCL FOODS?

Firstly, believe in yourself and your abilities. RCL FOODS encourages people to be “More You”, which promotes an environment of inclusivity, welcomes employees’ ideas, and inspires people to be themselves. Secondly, be willing to adapt, as our industry is extremely fast-paced and is changing all the time. I love the fact that RCL FOODS invests in and promotes advancement in the use of technology, which helps tremendously in this respect.  

Richelle (seated) with her mentors: HR Director Barney Khumalo and HR Executive Tasmin Coleman (centre and right back) who first recognised her potential and offered her the HR internship opportunity, and Learning & Development Executive Charmaine Boshoff (left back) who, together with colleages Bev Palmer and Ansa du Toit, have nurtured and encouraged her in her current role.