Issue 11: February 2014
In this issue of Setting the Example, we acknowledge the importance of an ethical workplace culture and share the six building blocks that can help leaders to build and maintain an ethical culture successfully. This newsletter also explores two topical issues: We have highlighted important aspects in the Public Protector’s scathing report on governance and ethical failures at the SABC (which reflect quite the opposite of an ethical culture) and we share our thoughts on ethics and the very contentious issue of e-tolls. For some good news, this newsletter includes a report of improvements in ethical behaviour, albeit in America.


The concept of organisational culture surfaced in the late 1970s and is as relevant in the workplace today as it was then. Amongst the wealth of theories and thought leadership on the topic, the definition of culture as “the way things are done around here” is widely recognised. So too is it generally accepted that values play a significant role in shaping culture and that, in turn, culture shapes behaviour in organisations. The quest for more ethical workplace conduct makes culture especially pertinent and it makes the attainment of an ethical culture a high-priority goal. Read more ...




The arguments against the introduction of e-tolls on Gauteng roads have been wide-ranging, including that there may have been better and more cost-effective ways to finance the upgrading of the roads. Although these arguments appear to be valid, the government nonetheless decided to go ahead with the implementation of e-tolling late last year. Despite noteworthy legal challenges, primarily by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA), it has been held to be a valid law passed by a democratic government. Read more ...




The SABC has been in the news regularly over the last while, mostly for all the wrong reasons. On Monday 17 February governance and ethical failures of staggering proportions were exposed when the Public Protector, Adv. Thuli Madonsela, released her report on the SABC, aptly entitled “When Governance and Ethics Fail”. The report follows on an investigation into allegations of maladministration, systemic governance deficiencies, abuse of power and irregular appointments by the SABC. Read more ...



The National Business Ethics Survey 2013 conducted by the Ethics Resource Center (ERC), a US non-profit research organisation, reveals good news about the state of ethics in American workplaces. Observed misconduct is down for the third report in a row and is now at a historic low; the decline in misconduct is widespread; and the percentage of workers who said they felt pressure to compromise standards fell substantially.

Michael Oxley, ERC's chairman, was quoted in Compliance Week saying that “Companies are working harder to build strong cultures and implement increasingly sophisticated ethics and compliance programs. The results of the survey are encouraging and show that companies are doing a better job of holding workers accountable, imposing discipline for misconduct, and letting it be known publicly that bad behaviour will be punished.” Read more ...
Ethics Monitor Endorsements
“Conducting the Ethics Monitor survey amongst our employees and key stakeholders provided us with an excellent understanding of our ethical status and areas of ethical strength.”
Marius Muller, CEO, Pareto Limited

“The Ethics Monitor survey is a valuable addition to our ethics initiatives and the quantitative results provided meaningful insights into our ethical performance.”
Renske Coetzee, Head of Human Resources, Redefine Properties Limited


I know I should be ethical, but …
To drive positive cultural change, organisations need to manage 3 typical ethical traps:
  1. Employees lie to themselves: “It’s not really bad/wrong.”
  2. Employees rationalise their ethical choices: “I know it’s wrong, but I have a good reason/other people are doing it.”
  3. Employees disengage: “It’s not my problem.”

Adapted from The 3 Power Values by David Gebler.


Expanding ethics
Managing ethics is not only about fighting corruption. While it is an essential facet of ethics management, it is not sufficient to realise a goal such as building an ethical culture. If, for instance, a company could eliminate all misconduct, it would not necessarily translate into fair or respectful relationships or higher levels of accountability and transparency. That requires that companies also focus on improving ethical conduct by strengthening positive, value-based behaviours.


Send us a comment
We’d like to receive your comments on our newsletter or your suggestions of topics or issues which you think are pertinent. Please email

About Ethics Monitoring & Management Services (Pty) Ltd

Ethics Monitoring & Management Services was started by Cynthia Schoeman to help organisations to improve ethics in the workplace and to encourage them to manage ethics proactively. Cynthia developed The Ethics Monitor, a web-based ethics survey, which enables organisations to measure, monitor and report on their ethical status. Ethics Monitoring & Management Services also offers ethics talks, workshop, consulting and training.

Ethics Monitor logo       twitter twitter

Contact us

Cynthia Schoeman
Managing Director,
Ethics Monitoring & Management
Services (Pty) Ltd
011 447 7661; 082 821 3729;

We have sent you this newsletter because we believe you would be interested in improving ethics in the workplace. However, if you wish to unsubscribe, please click here.