We need good governance and ethical leadership. Where leaders govern with an ethical mind-set, their organisations contribute to the well-being of the economy, society and the natural environment.
The challenge of our time is to drive development in such a way that our economies and societies are fair and sustainable and that our planet remains sufficiently resilient and endowed for generations to come.
This challenge will be put in the spotlight at the upcoming conference of the Business Ethics Network of Africa
, in association with KPMG
, to be held on 9 and 10 November in Stellenbosch. A particular highlight of the event will be the conversation with and between well-known Adv. Thuli Madonsela and Judge Mervyn King.
At the event delegates will gain from the inputs of international experts, industry leaders and researchers. Challenges, solutions and future perspectives will be discussed.
According to Prof Arnold Smit, president of BEN-Africa and Head of Social Impact at Stellenbosch Business School (USB), Thuli Madonsela has become for many people the personification of integrity and courage as she goes about the duties and challenges of being South Africa’s public protector. In Mervyn King we certainly have a global doyen on the governance and accountability practices of organisations.
“We will have them in conversation as the one celebrates the publication of the fourth edition of the worldly renowned King Report on Corporate Governance and the other leaves office after an intense period of keeping the president and government accountable for their constitutional duties towards the people of South Africa.
“Both of them will receive BEN-Africa’s special award for good governance and ethical leadership,” Prof Smit said.
While the conference will almost pivot around the ‘Thuli and Mervyn’ conversation, prior to that the focus will be on the challenges of governance and ethics on the continent and promising initiatives around director development and values-based leadership will be discussed.
Researchers will share insights on governance in SMEs, gender diversity on boards, whistleblowing, sustainable development practices and even spirituality.
On the day of the ‘Thuli and Mervyn’ conversation the spotlight will be on King IV. Three issues will be highlighted, namely the impact of King IV on how boards will function in future, the ethical implications of executive remuneration and the applicability of King IV to SMEs, NPOs and retirement funds.
The news lately has been inundated with governance issues. One issue that seems almost glued to corporate governance, and that keeps on recurring, is about whose interests are at stake in the work of a board of directors. Does a board serve the narrow interest of owners and shareholders, or is it supposed to secure value for a broader spectrum of stakeholders?
A second challenge that seems to have become almost endemic in its appearance pertains to the presence of corruption in procurement practices. How can boards make sure that there is no undue benefit for board members or executives in high stakes transactions?
A third issue, and one that several South African companies have burned their fingers with, has to do with cross-border business expansion. Whilst some have successfully established high reputation businesses elsewhere in Africa, some had to throw in the towel, while others have incurred fines. One may ask how governance can contribute to a ‘continental neighbourhood’ of responsible business and sustainable development.
A fourth issue that keeps on raising its head, is executive remuneration. Society is getting more and more upset where so much benefit is accumulated by the few whilst poverty and inequality are the daily fate of the vast majority. Can excessive remuneration simply be justified in view of an employment contract or do we need to have a conversation about the ethicality of it? King IV advocates for incorporating both economic and moral considerations in decisions about executive pay. This was already met with both approval and resistance.
“Our country and continent are loaded with potential, but it needs to be harnessed and well governed in order to produce the sustainable prosperity that our societies are now so much in need of. The conference on Governance, Ethics and African Development is certainly not to be missed,” said Prof Smit.
Roy Waligora, Partner of KPMG’s Forensic Business Unit said: “We see ethics increasingly becoming a key risk management tool to not only focus on what happened or what the risk is but also better understand why they happen in order to reduce risk and costs. With the fantastic and high-profile speakers, this conference is aimed at assisting senior managers gain useful insights to these and other governance issues”