Business & Economy

Tuesday, 05 February 2019 15:15

SA needs leaders with “ethical intelligence and courage” says ethics guru

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 A leading ethics czar says South Africa is enveloped in “a perfect storm” regarding fraud, corruption and state capture.

CEO of the Institute of Internal Auditors SA (IIASA), Dr. Claudelle von Eck, says daily revelations at various Commissions of Inquiry and other probes represented a “fantastic opportunity” for the country to start having serious conversations about ethical leadership.

“People may be fatigued but, what is happening in South Africa is not unique in global terms. However, we are in a perfect storm because we do not sweep things under the carpet ... we are now having the right conversations about ethics, ethical leadership and our moral obligation to do what is right.

”Von Eck was speaking this morning at the annual Public Sector Forum held at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg. The two-day conference is hosted by the IIASA and brings together over 250 internal auditors and audit committee members working in the public sector. The theme for this year’s event is “Poised for the Future”.

Von Eck delivered a presentation titled “Building Ethical Intelligence and Ethical Courage”. She said internal auditors in the public sector were leaders – and admitted that a litany of scandals had placed greater pressure over the profession.

“The last two years have been very difficult for the audit profession – and specifically the external audit sector. But the underlying question also being posed is why were internal auditors’ findings and recommendations not implemented by leadership and management whilst wrongdoing was being perpetrated?”

She said public sector employees held the key to instilling a strong infrastructure as well as a solid foundation for positive economic growth. “And ethics is central to this. We must self-reflect on how our actions affect the profession and the country. We have a moral responsibility … but the current situation also represents a fantastic opportunity.”

She added that it enabled internal auditors to engage more rigorously with political and administrative leaders on ethical conundrums. “Ethics is at the heart of everything. And, when people think of ethics, they only view it within the context of fraud or corruption. It is much more. For example, in regards to things like inequality, racism, sexism and those who abuse their power.”

She said ethical intelligence was essentially the ability “to see ethical implications in your actions, the decisions you make and how to respond adequately.”

She said: “Boards should ensure that they consider the ethical implications of every decision they take. Sometimes we are so saturated with information that we don’t always apply our minds to this.”

“What the Gupta and Bosasa scandals have revealed is that the perpetrators of wrongdoing strategised and planned ahead for years. We thus have to be as smarter and create an environment where good ultimately triumphs over evil.”   

Delegates and speakers meanwhile labelled the forum “a great success”, saying it served as a barometer of the current state of affairs within the profession.  

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About IIA SA

The Institute of Internal Auditors South Africa (IIA SA) is part of an international network representing the interests of Internal Auditors worldwide. As a part of this international network, the IIA SA upholds and supports the fundamental tenets of the profession - the Code of Ethics and the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing. The IIA SA supports the profession by providing a wide range of services dedicated to the education and advancement of internal auditors and dynamically promoting and developing the profession in South Africa. The IIA SA’s objectives are to build the profession, its credibility and a thriving business environment in South Africa.  

For further information contact and interview opportunities: 

Moshe KolaDepartment Head: Communications and Business Development (IIA SA)
Tel: +27 11 450-1040 (ext. 274)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or 

Cheryl NaiduPR Liaison (At Vogue Communications)
Tel: +27 73 524 6034
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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