Nonkululeko Gobodo resigned from the Clicks Group board this week, citing personal reasons. Picture: Matthews Baloyi
Nonkululeko Gobodo resigned from the Clicks Group board this week, citing personal reasons. Picture: Matthews Baloyi

This is why Nonkululeko Gobodo resigned from the Clicks Group board after racist hair ad

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Sep 17, 2020

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Johannesburg – Nonkululeko Gobodo, the first black woman to become a Chartered Accountant in South Africa, has resigned from her role as a non-executive director of the Clicks Group following the recent controversy of a TRESemmé advert which appeared on the Clicks website.

In a statement this week, Clicks said Gobodo had resigned, citing personal reasons.

Last week, Gobodo said both Clicks and TRESemmé – the companies at the centre of a racism storm over black women’s hair – should release the names of the senior executives who were involved in the publishing of the controversial racist advert which described black women’s hair as frizzy, dull, dry and damaged, sparking fury online and subsequent EFF-led protests at Clicks stores around the country.

Neither of the two companies have named the executives involved. At Clicks, a senior executive resigned and two junior staffers face disciplinary action for the ad being published.

On Thursday, Gobodo, in an interview with Talk Radio 702, shared insight about why she had left her role from the pharmaceutical and beauty retailer.

She said she had not been asked to become a de facto spokesperson for Clicks, and said she hates injustice.

Having recently launched her own anti-racism and anti-prejudice initiative, called Awaken, she said she felt like a hypocrite to sit on a board which had been accused of what she was now publicly taking a stand against.

“People are very sad at Clicks that I am leaving, I am also sad, but I have to be true to my values because of my stand.

“I cannot on one stand say I am taking a stand against racism and prejudice against women, and on the other, sit on a board that was accused of that.

“When I reflected, I felt like a hypocrite, I could not continue,” she said.

Gobodo said she had launched the Awaken anti-racism initiative because she was tired of seeing institutions and society ’’dance around these issues’’.

“Then this (racist ad) happens, I was a leader, I could not do nothing. When I reflected, I felt like a hypocrite.

“I felt like I cannot freely pursue my initiative against racism and prejudice sitting on a board (that had been accused of same), I will have to compromise my message and think of Clicks every time I speak out.

“I felt I needed to be free, I felt I had to free myself and (be true to) my values,” she said.

Gobodo said she had no regrets for going on a media tour in defence of Clicks and felt she had achieved her aim – making sure the ‘real culprits’ were held to account.

“I hate injustice, I could not as a leader just sit back and do nothing during a crisis. For me the fact that Clicks was blamed for the whole saga was grossly unfair, when the real culprits were going off scot-free.

“I felt that we needed to put the record straight and yes, Clicks must take their responsibility, but let us not let the real culprits get away with murder.

“People were hurting, I myself as a black woman was deeply offended by that advert. We needed, as an organisation, to talk to the hurt of the people.

“The CEO was doing his best, but I felt he needed to be supported so that people know that yes, we don’t like what is happening, yes it's wrong what is happening, but we care about the people, that was my motivation for stepping forward,” she said.

Gobodo said there was no bad blood between her and the board, and was confident the company would continue on its ’’commendable’’ transformation journey.

She also said she holds Clicks chief executive Vikesh Ramsunder in high esteem, saying he was the best candidate for the job when he was appointed in January last year.

“This was a personal decision. I am confident they will continue on the journey of transformation.

“(They were) very happy about the interviews (I did), there were no problems with me speaking out,” she said.

Gobodo also said the focus shifted towards Tresemmé and Unilever after she had spoken out, which she was happy about and had no regrets.

“Admit you are wrong, respect people’s opinions and feelings. Always take accountability and responsibility.

“Secondly, the narrative did change (after I spoke out), because the media started holding Tresemmé and Unilever accountable for what they had done, so I feel like I achieved my purpose,” she said.

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