28 June 2019, Johannesburg: EOH CEO Stephen van Coller and EOH Chief Commercial Officer Fatima Newman joined National Director of Public Prosecution Advocate Shamila Batohi and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan in a series of discussions at The Daily Maverick Business Against Corruption summit on 27 June in Johannesburg.

EOH was a co-sponsor of the event, which brought together a host of luminaries in the public, private and NGO sectors to discuss topics such as the impact of corruption, the importance of facilitating whistleblowing, and the responsibility of business to speak up against corruption. The event was streamed live by eNCA news.

In Minister Gordhan’s address he was careful to distinguish between corruption as a concept and the moral choices made by the individual that enable corruption to take effect: “Corruption, as the tendency to benefit oneself at the expense of others, is as old as humanity itself. But each time it arises it’s because someone made a choice. Every one of us has a choice to indulge in corrupt behaviour or not. Every one of us has a choice to be a whistleblower or not. You can choose to walk one road or another. But in every instance corruption comes about as a result of individuals making choices.”

Fatima Newman appeared on the first panel of the day, alongside Palesa Maledi of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies; Kris Dobie of The Ethics Institute; and Christy Hunter of Empanda. The panel discussed the trickle-down effect – the impact of corruption on our democracy, on our societies and how it affects the poorest of the poor.

EOH’s Chief Commercial Officer Fatima Newman appeared on the first panel of the day, alongside Palesa Maledi of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies

Newman spoke on the role of leadership in inspiring people to make moral choices, and on the importance of moral integrity: “I view leadership in a personal sense: we all have the capacity to lead, and moral leadership starts with all of us. The advice we give to our kids and loved ones sometimes feels at odds with the values we espouse in business; and it shouldn’t be that way. Integrity means consistency of ethical values. For me, it is personal. She also emphasised the importance of getting the basics right and reemphasising, on an ongoing basis, what the rules of the game are. We have an obligation to equip people with right toolset to know what is required, why it is required and how these impact the organisation and the broader ecosystem.  Minister Gordhan made it clear that we all have choices, and leadership means making those choices loudly and courageously, sometimes those choices are unpopular, but we have to be the example that we want to see in others.”  She summarised it in a simple quote which says: “We will see and experience wonderful and tangible outcomes by wanting more for others than we want for ourselves!”

Stephen van Coller appeared alongside prominent SAA whistleblower Cynthia Stimpel; Liezl Groenewald of The Ethics Institute; and Wayne Duvenage of OUTA, on a panel discussing the importance of facilitating whistleblowing and the protection of whistleblowers.

EOH’s CEO Stephen van Coller on a panel discussing the importance of facilitating whistleblowing and the protection of whistleblowers facilitated by Ferial Haffajee, Daily Maverick’s Associate Editor.

He spoke about his experience in turning an organisation around through visible ethical leadership, and what was required to assist potential whistleblowers. “There are three things that I’ve learnt are fundamental and necessary in order to ensure an effective whistleblowing platform. Firstly, the tone needs to be set from the top, and it needs to empower potential whistleblowers. They need to feel they have agency and independence, and that their voices will be heard. Secondly, once you’ve created an environment in which people know they’ll be listened to, you need to give them a voice. And that’s what prompted the development and launch of ExposeIT, our whistleblowing app. We knew that ExposeIT had to be anonymous and technically advanced enough that it allowed cases to be built. But most importantly, using it needed to be easy. We wanted to remove as many obstacles as possible between people with the moral courage to report wrongdoing and their ability to be heard. Finally, whistleblowers need to be confident that their actions are going to lead to action. If people are given a voice, but their words have no effect, people will stop speaking. Actionable reports need to lead to action, invariably.”

EOH is currently involved in a fundamental transition to a professionally managed corporate structure, simplifying its more than 270 legal entities and aligning them to the strategy of the three distinctive businesses. The new structure will prioritise transparency, ethical leadership, full disclosure, compliance with stringent standards, and active response to any inappropriate practices that might be uncovered.

The rollout of the ExposeIT App is one of several actions taken by van Coller to strengthen governance at the technology company as it makes this transition: EOH is in the process of aligning its processes with the newly introduced ISO 37001 anti-bribery management systems accreditation; a comprehensive review of EOH’s governance procedures has been undertaken by the University of Stellenbosch’s Centre for Corporate Governance in Africa; group-wide processes now require third-party due diligence on all customer, supplier, and partner on-boarding; and PWC has been appointed as internal auditors.

In an eagerly awaited closing address, newly appointed National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi spoke about exactly what was at stake in the fight against corruption. “When corruption flourishes, there can be no meaningful economic growth, no sustainable development, no significant investment, no effective service delivery, and no safety and security. In the end, all South Africans – each one of us – suffer, especially the poor who rely on state services such as healthcare, education and security for their wellbeing and survival. Indeed, our Constitutional Court has recognised that corruption threatens to fell at the knees virtually everything we hold dear and precious in our hard-won constitutional order.”

Watch the live stream from ENCA here:

Source: ENCA: https://www.enca.com/news/livestream-business-against-corruption

For media queries please email: media@eoh.com or 011 607 8100.

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