Beyond Women’s Month: Insights from Springbok Physiotherapist Rene Naylor

Thursday, 31 August 2023

This Women’s Month, Edward Snell & Co. set its focus on a singular theme: The Power of Storytelling. As a build we invited Springbok physiotherapist Rene Naylor to come and share her story, “being a woman in a male dominated industry” with the women (and men) of Edward Snell. Rene, who occupies a prestigious role at undoubtedly South Africa’s most beloved sports team, has long since needed to navigate, and has undeniably mastered, the nuances of this reality, and authentically shared the triumphs and challenges experienced throughout the course of her decade long tenure.

Somewhat tongue in cheek Rene began her talk by sharing “We’re (women) only approached for talks during the month of August” when referencing the team’s growing popularity during the build up to the Rugby World Cup. She explained that women still get overlooked, and plenty of change is still needed. Keeping talks around women’s issues active is vital for the progression of equality in the workplace.

Rene openly shared the highs and the lows that come with her role, including her return to work after the birth of her son in 2013 whilst preparing for the Springboks tour to Argentina. She acknowledged that it wasn’t easy navigating motherhood with “always on” work responsibilities; coupled with the added “pressure” of representing women of colour in such a high-profile role.  Rene simply stated that “along with millions of other women – we make it work.” Her message to other women is to support each other. “Straighten her crown – there’s no need to tell anyone that it was skew.”

Her call to action is that “(we) corporates need to be more intentional about uplifting women every day, not just during Women’s Month”. She implores corporations to invest in young women who require the support or finances to pursue specialised careers. She spoke with passion about young women’s potential to fulfil leadership roles – but that more can be done to create “psychologically safe environments” for women in order to thrive in particularly male dominated industries, including her own.

Edward Snell’s MD, Karin Krause-Wessels, rounded off the talk by sharing: “We will never fix this country if we don’t share our stories. The more you share your stories the more you realise we all have similar fears, we all have similar hopes.  My biggest wish this Women’s Month is for everyone to share more stories bravely and authentically.”