I first heard of the term “the new ROI – return on integrity” in Cynthia Schoeman’s definitive book “Ethics Can” and it recently dawned on me, once again that an ethical South Africa really does start with me! It’s of absolutely no value at all to point fingers at the ubiquitous corrupt activities of our government unless our own businesses are ethical and blameless!
Simon Sinek of “Start With Why” fame also famously said that people don’t buy what you do (or sell) they buy why you do it! I’ve taken this philosophy a few steps further and marrying this philosophy with Cynthia’s thinking we decided early in 2018 that we would, from that day on, only do businesses with organisations who we believe share our values and who actively strive to defeat unlawful and unethical behaviour within their organisations.
“Easier said than done” I hear you say and you are correct! It wasn’t easy but once we took the decision we decided to stick to it!
We immediately highlighted two of our clients who we knew were less than ethical! One was a corporate entity and the other a foreign-owned company and we sat down and wrote them letters giving them three months’ notice of our intention to terminate our agreements with them. The corporate was easy as they hadn’t really committed to our Be Heard® reporting service and viewed it as a tick on a governance checklist but the other company were very upset and begged us to continue providing our service to them. They even offered to double the fee that they were paying! We didn’t waiver and confirmed the cancellation.
Almost as if it was affirmation of our decision, within a week one of the companies in our pipeline called and apologised for the delay in finalising their decision to subscribe to our service and asked us when they could sign up!
To be absolutely honest we have not looked back since then!
While we strive to manage our business ethically, we realise that we are by no means where we want to be. We know we’re on a journey and we’re really happy that we’re on the right course! I’m also absolutely convinced that cleaning up South Africa has to start with me and you and every one of us!