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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