Diverse talent solutions. African Partnerships you can depend on.

The ethics evolution: will you be on the right side of history?

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As the Covid-19 tsunami gushed through countries and communities unprepared for its devastation, it also uncovered practises that are less than ethical, writes Annelize van Rensburg, Director: Executive Search at Signium Africa. How do business leaders rebuild trust?

News about the global pandemic brought stories of heroism and relief for some, but it is in times of crisis that an individual or company’s real moral and ethical value system comes to the fore. Global issues from overcharging for personal protective equipment (PPE) to leaders withholding government funding from their citizens brought shame on top of sadness.

The old adage “a fish rots from the head down” has been bandied about freely, but it isn’t entirely true: it takes more than one leader, board member or organisation’s employee to cross the line between good corporate governance and an unethical focus purely on profit.

The overarching effect of questionable ethics is the creation of a toxic culture that seeps into all areas of an organisation. Examples that made global headlines are plentiful, from oil spills that decimated once-pristine waters, to dangerous design faults that exacerbated fires in buildings; and vehicle manufacturers claiming to be within mandated emission rates when testing showed untold potential damage to the environment.

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Valentine’s Day: It’s about making hearts happy

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, the delight is palpable. What used to be the feast day of St Valentine, patron lovers and beekeepers, evolved to being a day on which you send a card or gift to someone you love, often anonymously.

Now Valentine’s Day has become a day on which we show love, for that special person, friends and family and even teachers and colleagues. We asked three of Signium Africa’s directors what Valentine’s Day means to them and we’re loving the responses.

Director of Assessments and Industrial Psychologist: Michelle Moss, says the day is about love, and in this time of a global pandemic, suggests “self-love” would be a valuable way to spend it.

“Very often we share kindness and compassion with others and neglect to include ourselves. We speak to ourselves far more harshly than we’d speak to friends and forget that we can’t keep giving love without ever replenishing it.”

Michelle’s tips for a self-loving Valentine’s Day include being aware of how we feel; not taking on too much work because we don’t set boundaries for ourselves; and getting stressed or annoyed with ourselves for making mistakes.

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Team building mid-pandemic: About purpose, resilience and diversity

Close up view of young business people putting their hands together. Stack of hands. Unity and teamwork concept.

As workers across the globe navigate their way around another phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, Michelle Moss: Director: Assessments at Signium Africa notes just how necessary team building interventions are at a time of “pre” the post-pandemic stage.

“Over the past year people have been talking about mental health issues among staff members unused to working from home and not having personal engagement with colleagues.

“In our quest to give employees the time and space they needed to speak up about issues, it’s become apparent that company leaders were largely focused on the well-being of their staff and did not take the time to fully consider or take care of their own needs. Teambuilding workshops now give them the opportunity to explore these necessities and receive the empathy and support they made sure their staff got.”

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Assessing the director: a CV is only tip of the iceberg

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State capture, defined as “seeking to influence the formation of laws in order to protect and promote influential private interests”, and its resultant Zondo Commission, continues to shock South Africans from all walks of life.

Signium’s corporate governance specialist, chartered director and Chairman Dr. Simo Lushaba, and Director of Assessments, industrial psychologist Michelle Moss assert that directors, board members and other stakeholders across the range of affected organisations should have noted the red flags and taken appropriate actions.

“The strength of every country lies in its institutions and the robust backbone its professional members must bring to their positions of leadership and the public’s expectation of trust,” says Lushaba. “Directors, particularly those appointed to the Board of an organisation, must be the be-all and end-all of corporate governance.”

His key concern is that professionals are being appointed to these positions of power based only on the skills, qualifications and experience noted in their Curriculum Vitae (CV). “Principle 7 of King IV requires that the Governing Body, of which a Board of Directors is one, should comprise the appropriate balance of knowledge, skills, experience, diversity and independence for it to discharge its governance role and responsibilities objectively and effectively.

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Agribusiness during Covid: How leadership creates winning strategies

Vegetables and agriculture entrepreneurThe year 2020 will forever be defined by the massive disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic had across the board and around the world, says Dr John Purchase, CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz). The immediate response in South Africa was a hard lockdown that restricted movement and any form of a gathering of people.

“Food products and services were deemed essential goods and services, and much of the sector could continue with operations, albeit in an extremely difficult and disrupted environment,” says Dr Purchase, noting too that certain agricultural and agro-processing sectors were deemed non-essential, including alcohol-based industries (especially wine), floriculture, the fibre and tobacco industries and more.

Interestingly, even within the constraints of Covid-19, South Africa maintained an excellent rate of food security. Due largely to pro-active measures taken by industry and government including the Ministerial Task Team, economic damage and loss of jobs was limited as far as possible for most subsectors. Dr Purchase highlights that a cut in interest rates by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) meant a saving of roughly R5,6 billion for farmers over a 12-month period, relieving some pressure on farmers and agribusinesses.

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One of the most important trends for 2021 is communication, which will inform every other strategy implemented on the long road to recovery in the new year.

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Navigating the impacts of Covid-19 on business has been likened to building the airplane as we’re flying it. Senior managers are using knowledge passed on from medical and business experts to determine their potential next move – but the catch with a “novel” virus that there are no absolutes.

The only thing anyone can be sure of at this stage is the importance of communications, and mastering the art of distance management. A recent Conference Board survey polled 1 100 workers in the USA and determined that only 28% expect returning to the workplace by the end of 2020, and 38% expect to return “at some point in 2021 or beyond”.

In South Africa, BusinessInsider reports that large corporates – including Dimension Data, Shoprite and RMB – are looking at longer-term “blended” options of allowing staff to work from home at least part of the time.

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Communication: How business success will be determined in 2021

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The speed with which the C-Suite was tasked with managing monumental change as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold is unprecedented, states Annelize van Rensburg, Director: Executive Search, Signium Africa. One thing is becoming clear: no “new normal” is possible without robust new communication skills.

One of the most important trends for 2021 is communication, which will inform every other strategy implemented on the long road to recovery in the new year.

Navigating the impacts of Covid-19 on business has been likened to building the airplane as we’re flying it. Senior managers are using knowledge passed on from medical and business experts to determine their potential next move - but the catch with a “novel” virus that there are no absolutes.

The only thing anyone can be sure of at this stage is the importance of communications, and mastering the art of distance management. A recent Conference Board survey polled 1 100 workers in the USA and determined that only 28% expect returning to the workplace by the end of 2020, and 38% expect to return “at some point in 2021 or beyond”.

In South Africa, BusinessInsider reports that large corporates - including Dimension Data, Shoprite and RMB - are looking at longer-term "blended" options of allowing staff to work from home at least part of the time.

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Signium Africa

Diverse talent solutions.
African partnerships you
can depend on.

Address

Head Office

23 Fricker Road,
Illovo, Sandton,
Johannesburg
South Africa,
2196

Satelite Office

Cape Town

Contact Details

Tel: +27 (0) 11 771 4800
Email: info@signium.co.za

Signium Africa (previously Talent Africa), a leading executive recruitment company based in South Africa offering head-hunting and leadership consulting services in sub-Saharan Africa. www.signium.co.za

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