LETTER: Media underplays positive role of business
Focus on corruption and financial malaise has dimmed the overall importance of capitalism
The editorial, “Corporate SA is becoming toxic” (November 7), cites many examples of mismanagement and corruption. This is true and unacceptable. It is also only part of the story. There is a far more inspiring one to be told.
The editorial cited that McKinsey and KPMG had played a part in facilitating state capture, with KPMG facing claims of deep involvement in the VBS Mutual Bank disaster, and Steinhoff International costing shareholders about R200bn on shareholder prices alone.
There are several other examples of major corporate corruption. However, we should not get trapped in a negative mindset about the nature of business. Rather than plundering and pillaging, the best of capitalism has unparalleled potential for good and builds a better society in the long term.
Many companies are working hard at doing exactly this, but keeping a low profile. Their example needs to be promoted. Some business leaders have taken a public stand regarding the need for a strongly ethical business culture.
The National Business Initiative, whose membership includes scores of companies, is an example. The organisation works to help address all the major challenges the country faces. It is often quoted in news stories, but its full vision is seldom described in our crisis-driven media.
Other business organisations have a similarly noble mission, among them the Conscious Capitalism movement and the not-for-profit Conscious Leadership Academy.
No business will ever be perfect. Corporate leaders will make mistakes, and should then admit them, correct them and move on. The more important point is that they are ultimately concerned with the value of the legacy they will leave behind.