BEN-Africa held its 15th annual Conference on Governance, ethics and African development, at STIAS, Stellenbosch from 9 to 10 November, in conjunction with KPMG-SA.
Prof Stan du Plessis, Dean of Economics and Management Science, Stellenbosch University, delivered the welcome address by stressing that business ethics was not a ‘nice-to-have’ but an integral part of economic development. The conference proceedings, pictures, articles and conversations can be picked up on Twitter at #BENAfricaconf2016.
Panel discussions hosted on the first day of the conference raised interesting questions such as that by Prof Obiora Ike, CEO, Globethics who questioned why there are economic awards, chemistry awards, football awards and television award, but no awards for ethical behaviour.
Joanne Henstock, Executive Director at EY, spoke about the Africa Corporate Governance Network (ACGN) research project entitled, “The state of Corporate Governance in Africa: An overview of 13 countries” whose guiding research question was “Is it possible to have good corporate governance in countries with poor public governance?”
Said Kambi, Chairman of the Africa Corporate Governance Network, reiterated the important point that Africa needed to work closer and integrate its economies. However, to achieve this it needed to implement good governance and that required trust.
The afternoon was devoted to tracking sessions where nine speakers delivered their presentations on a wide variety of topics linked to the conference theme. Topics such as ethics in medium-sized enterprises, board gender diversity and environmental management, integrity as core value/virtue for responsible leadership, and towards an Ubuntu-based stakeholder theory were discussed, all of which are available for download at http://www.benafrica.org/2016-conference-presentations/
Day two saw the highlight of the conference. BEN-Africa honoured two of Africa’s most prominent exemplars of moral integrity, Adv. Thuli Madonsela and Prof Mervyn King, with The Order of the Baobab, an award by BEN-Africa for extraordinary achievements in the advancement of organisational ethics on the continent of Africa.
Prof Deon Rossouw, the founding President of BEN-Africa and CEO of the Ethics Institute, and one of the sponsors of the conference explained that the Baobab stood as a symbol of the organisation, representing the traditional meeting place where minds would meet in order to discuss ideas. A sample of articles in the media covering their thank you speeches can be found at http://www.moneyweb.co.za/home-category/when-governance-fails-things-fall-apart/ ,
Prof Arnold Smit, outgoing president of BENAfrica, also announced the launch of the BEN-Africa and KPMG thought leadership publication, entitled “Promoting ethics in organisations: Letters from the field”, which was the culmination of the insights from KPMG sponsored practitioner forums held across the country during the preceding 18 months. It was also a tangible illustration of BENAfrica’s commitment to widening the ethics conversation beyond the narrow confines of academia and into industry; find it here: http://www.benafrica.org/kpmgben-africa-promoting-ethics-in-organisations-letters-from-the-field/