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African Petrochemicals is South Africa’s leading quarterly print and digital trade magazine for the past 16 years. Featuring all the latest petrochemical industry news, special reports, technological advances and much more.

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The value of ethics and authenticity in business today

By Ravi Panthi, Head of Human Resources for Wipro Africa, Wipro Limited

The topic of ethics in business, and specifically in the technology industry, was thrust into the limelight in the second half of 2017 – as a number of local ICT players became embroiled in scandals relating to maladministration.

Share prices were hammered. Reputations left in tatters. Quality talent fled to firms standing on a stronger ethical foundation.

These alleged indiscretions showed that, ultimately, unethical conduct certainly doesn’t work in the long-run. Though there may be a ‘quick buck’ to be made, if that comes at the cost of compromising one’s morals, it’s simply not worth it.

Organisations must have a solid moral core at the centre of everything they do. In our case, for instance, we continually return to our core principle of ‘unyielding integrity in everything we do’. It is important to recognise that this is more than merely a sentence. To bring this principle to life the ideals of integrity, authenticity and honesty must be woven into the very fabric of the organisation.

For an organisation to be ethically sound, that spirit of honesty should filter down from the executive suits, becoming embedded in the actions and decisions of every staff member. In short, exhibiting ethical behaviour isn’t something that one talks about, it’s something that one does.

In any business, teams and individuals will be tempted to take shortcuts and easy options, they’ll be confronted with challenging ethical dilemmas. From the big things (like walking away from major contracts that are tainted with improper government interference for example), to the small things (like refusing to pay unsanctioned ‘fees’ for visas to be processed for our staff), the principles of integrity should always guide business decisions.

By doing this, organisations can encourage a great sense of pride in working for a company with an excellent ethical track record. In this way, they’re are able to attract higher-quality individuals to our teams, and develop deeper, more sustainable business relationships with clients.

But while integrity must be at the core of any successful business, in many ways, merely operating ethically is still ‘not enough’. In other words, it’s not about merely complying with the letter of the law, but about delivering on one’s commitments to transform communities and improve the world, to whatever degree a company is able to achieve.

This is an idea that gains ever-greater traction as a new generation of consumers take the baton from the older generation. As this Forbes article explains, “millennials prefer to do business with corporations and brands with pro-social messages, sustainable manufacturing methods and ethical business standards.”

Tomorrow’s winning businesses will be those that create positive and sustainable impact on communities and individuals.

In this spirit, we’ve rolled-out learnership, internship and graduate training programmes across the African continent. We’ve attained a Level 2 Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment rating in South Africa; and we’ve developed strategic partnerships with local organisations to ensure local investment and skills transfer.

Through local initiatives such as these, a company is  able to translate the organisation’s ethical principles into meaningful impact.  Initiatives such as these have become a tangible expression of the sentiments expressed by Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, who said:

Being consistent and not compromising got inculcated in me at a very early age. It became the backbone of the organisation and a matter of major pride in the employees.”

Ultimately, remaining steadfast in one’s ethics, in even the toughest of circumstances, is the only true route to success and fulfilment – as individuals and as an organisation.

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