Issue 2: November 2011
In this issue of Setting the Example, we explore the reasons why ethics should become a priority 4th bottom line, we look at the cost of a lack of ethics versus the new ROI – the return on integrity, and we provide an overview of what setting up a social and ethics committee entails. There are also some topical issues that we hope you will find interesting.


Talk delivered at the Institute of Directors of Southern Africa Annual Business Update, Sandton Convention Centre, 6 October 2011

When ethics is a priority, it maintains a focus on how you do business and avoids the many problems which can arise from an approach of “business at any cost”. This approach gives rise to on-going incidences of unethical behaviour which continue to keep workplace ethics in the news. These ethical failures reveal a range of costs from financial ones in the form of fines or settlements, to reputational damage, eroded brand equity, and even the closure of some businesses in extreme cases.



Published in Directorship, Oct-Dec 2011

There is hardly an issue of a newspaper or business magazine which does not include at least one story about a new or brewing ethical scandal. Sometimes, regrettably not always, the perpetrators have to face the costs and consequences for their misconduct - whether the loss of their position, fines, or even jail sentences.



Why do brilliant people allow their hunger for money to cause their ruin?

Everywhere you look, there's compelling evidence that the single-minded pursuit of wealth often leads smart people to do incredibly stupid things—things that destroy what money can't buy.



Thuli Madonsela, the public protector, says South Africa’s fifth place on the Ibrahim Index of good governance is not grounds for the country to rest on its laurels.



The Companies Act, No.71 of 2008 mandates the formation of a social and ethics committee. Here is a brief synopsis of what is required.

By when: 1 May 2012.
Applies to:

Every state owned company, listed public company and any other company that scores more than 500 public interest points in any two of the previous five years (which is based on the number of employees, annual turnover and third party liability)
Subsidiaries don’t need a social and ethics committee if the holding company’s committee performs this role on their behalf.
Committee appointment: Appointed by the board
Committee membership:
To comprise no less than three directors or prescribed officers (senior managers or executives), at least one of whom has served as a non-executive director for the previous three financial years
Committee reporting:
To draw matters to the attention of the board as required, and report to the shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting.
Ethical focus:
The requirement to manage and monitor the company’s ethics is included under good corporate citizenship, which requires that the company monitors efforts to reduce corruption and prevent unfair discrimination.

The Ethics Monitor services

We will assist companies establish a social and ethics committee in terms of the Companies Act, and our Ethics Monitor survey fulfils the requirements to measure, monitor and report on ethics.

For more information, contact Cynthia Schoeman on

Special offer

We are giving away 50 copies of The Ethics Guide. This generic guide is a compact booklet on ethics in the workplace. It is a useful resource for all employees and for any organisation wanting to more effectively manage their workplace ethics. It addresses key concepts, topics and workplace issues, such as
  • defining ethics and workplace ethics
  • why ethics matters: the costs and the benefits
  • how ethical is your organisation: measuring your ethical status
  • managing ethics: to improve ethical behaviour and reduce unethical behaviour
  • ethical dilemmas
Customised guides are available on request.

The first 50 people to email us will receive a copy of The Ethics Guide.


“I'm currently studying at the University of Johannesburg. Our module is on business ethics and I have an assignment due on Monday on ethics. I just want to say thank you for the article in The Star's Workplace. It’s helped me to understand ethics even more and I'll definitely use it for my assignment.”

Snegugu Mkhize
3rd year Human Resource Management student,
University of Johannesburg

Put ethics first, then customers and profits

Everyone knows a business needs ethics, customers, and profits, but a lot of companies fail because they get the sequence wrong. The most common mistake is to put profits first. When you do, numbers become all-important, and you can justify almost any behaviour if it makes money. Instead, start by doing what's right and make sure everyone in the company does too. Then, focus on customers. The best way to attract and keep them is to treat them well and be incredibly good at what you do. Once you've mastered the first two elements, you can focus on making money.

Source: Harvard Business Review September 2011

About Ethics Monitoring and Management Services (Pty) Ltd

Ethics Monitoring and Management Services was started by Cynthia Schoeman to help organisations 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 and monitor their ethical status. Ethics Monitoring and Management Services also offers ethics talks, workshops and consulting.

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Contact us

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

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