The Companies Act (no.71 of 2008), as well as the Companies Amendment Act (no. 3 of 2011), came into effect on 1 May 2011. These acts have to be read together. The Act has elicited much discussion and some confusion. One area that has been receiving attention is the new requirement for social and ethics committees.
The observance and application of ethics within the business world is not something new. For as long as mankind has been living in groups, the moral regulation of behaviour has been necessary for the group’s wellbeing.
We all talk about respect. For a vast number of organizations “respect” is one of their avowed core values. Along with honesty, integrity, fairness, compassion, courage, and accountability it is one of the values cited by my own organization.
“If he were any dumber, we’d have to water him twice a week.”
The first time I heard it I laughed. Same thing the second time – but there was an aftertaste of unease. It’s a funny line, but what if someone actually thought or said that about a colleague or coworker?
In Business we are in need of a much more inclusive capitalism. Across industries, but also within businesses, we need an approach to business success that will consider the interests of all stakeholders. No system can be sustained whilst the interests of some key stakeholders are systematically excluded or harmed.
There Is More To It Than Simply Not Lying
“In managing the country store, as in everything that he undertook for others, Lincoln did his very best. He was honest, civil, ready to do anything that should encourage customers to come to the place, full of pleasantries, patient, and alert. On one occasion, finding late at night, when he counted over his cash, that he had taken a few cents from a customer more than was due, he closed the store, and walked a long distance to make good the deficiency.
NOTE: As the reader most likely knows, this article is part of a seven part series on the most commonly espoused organizational values. It may well be that courage is the most important of the seven. Absent courage, we might not choose to allow the other six to guide our actions and/or decisions when the outcome has significant consequences. Ethics starts with courage.
I recently conducted an ethics workshop for senior managers of a large company. During our discussions about the company’s ethical standards one of the managers asked whether it is okay to bend the rules from time to time if it is for the greater good of the company.
Corporate South Africa is being force-fed an overdue diet of business ethics throug regulation but scant attention is paid to the ethics of regulation - whilst this should receive our undivided attention: Unethical conduct by a single corporation affects many people; a lack of regularoty ethics affects everybody.
There’s something tragically and dangerously seductive in the latest “strugglers” war cry for “economic freedom”. Despite its magnetism, those who promote or slavishly follow it should understand its context and meaning to the same extent as someone has to understand the dangers of experimenting with heroin.
MANDATE AND TERMS OF REFERENCE OF SOCIAL AND ETHICS COMMITTEE
The Committee is constituted as a statutory committee of the Company in respect of those statutory duties assigned to it in terms of section 72(4) of the Companies Act of 2008.