Issue 28: May 2018
This issue of Setting the Example discusses a sensitive but topical ethical issue: unconscious bias and latent discrimination in the workplace, which are now resulting in very significant consequences. Recognising the crucial influence of the board as regards ethics, we share the seven key questions that boards should consider and address to give full effect to their ethical role. Our guest column provides a great summary of GDPR and POPIA and the impact of ethics on technology. We have also included the key findings from the Deloitte 2018 Millennial Survey, which indicate that millennials consider corporate ethics to be in decline, and from the Auditor-General’s recent report on the status of our municipalities, which is also not encouraging.


Bias may be unconscious and discrimination latent, but the consequences in South Africa are very real as illustrated by recent Court judgments. Dealing with this in the workplace warrants a significant focus by leadership to entrench proper, ethical conduct as regards peoples’ treatment of and behaviour to others and to avoid the damage caused by such situations. Read more...



In theory, the board should be the primary custodian of ethics for the organisation. Individually and collectively, board members should be ethics champions who ensure that ethics is kept in focus constantly. But, in practice, ethical scandals like the unfolding Steinhoff crisis and the governance failures at many of our state-owned enterprises lend themselves to question if this is actually the case. Was (or is) ethics sidelined in favour of profit or in pursuit of personal gain for board members and their inner circle? The following seven questions address the key issues that boards should be aware of and should address to make sure that they give full effect to their ethical role. Read more…



By Megan Grindell, an Ethics Monitor facilitator and trainer and an associate for Hansal International

GDPR (Genera Data Protection Regulation) came into effect on 25 May 2018. Its enforcement, preceded by a 24 months’ grace period, has seen an unprecedented data privacy shake-up in the last year. All organisations should be aware of its application, accountabilities, impact, enforcement, consequences and who owns PII (personally identifiable information). Read more…



Tax havens have long since played a key role in facilitating the illicit flow of money across borders. But, as of 1 May 2018, the UK government require British Overseas Territories to introduce public registers of beneficial ownership – meaning that companies based in places like Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands will have to reveal the identity of the people who own or control them.

Locally, in October 2015 the South African Cabinet endorsed the G20 High-Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership Transparency and approved the establishment of an Inter-departmental Committee to oversee the implementation of the country’s Action Plan. A recent invitation from the Department of Public Service and Administration to a public workshop on 10 May 2018 to consult civil society organisations to contribute to the final outcome of the national risk assessment is noteworthy.

However it is to be hoped that this will turn into something tangible and that other countries will follow the UK’s lead.
The Deloitte 2018 Millennial Survey
The findings as regards ethics are quite alarming:
•  Only 48% of millennials believe corporations behave ethically, down from 65% in 2017
Only 47% believe business leaders are committed to helping improve society, down from 62% last year
75% of respondents (up from 59%) see businesses focusing on their own agendas rather than considering the wider society
62% of millennials (up from 50% in 2017) agree with the statement that businesses “have no ambition beyond wanting to make money”.


The AG MFMA Report: key findings
The Auditor-General’s 2016/7 Report on the audit results of our 257 municipalities reveals not on ongoing governance problems and failures, but even worse results.
•  Accountability continues to fail in local government
The highest level of non-compliance with key governance laws since 2012/13 at 86% of municipalities
The quality of submitted financial statements and performance reports was largely poor
75% increase in irregular expenditure, up from R16,2 billion in 2015/6 to R28,3 billion (some of which was incurred in previous years)
Fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounted to R1,5 billion, a 71% increase from last year
31% of municipalities disclosed a deficit – the total deficit amounted to R5,6 billion.
The municipal budget for 2016/17 was R362,1 billion. Of the 257 municipalities,
33 with clean audit opinions represent 7% of the total budget;
112 with unqualified opinions with findings represent 68%;
66 with qualified audit opinions amount to 17%;
28 with adverse and disclaimed opinions represent 6%;
18 with outstanding audits constitute 2%.

About Ethics Monitoring & Management Services (Pty) Ltd

Ethics Monitoring & Management Services is a niche business focused on workplace ethics. It offers practical tools and services to support the effective management of workplace ethics, to improve ethical conduct and to build an ethical culture. Our core service areas are reliable, quantitative ethics assessments; ethics training encompassing talks, ethics conversations, workshops and webinars; and ethics consulting on issues such as ethics strategy, standards and management systems.

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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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