A lot has been said in recent times on the ideal principles of corporate governance as a key ingredient for growth.
At the core of corporate governance, however, is the need for ethical practice as the key to basic survival.
Kenya, like many other countries, is replete with stories of organisations and enterprises that have miserably failed to meet their mandates. A cursory look at many of these organisations will establish a clear nexus between a lack of ethics and their ultimate failure.
See, ethics breeds integrity, which in turn breeds profitability and mutual success. The opposite is undoubtedly true.
Upholding of ethical standards, however, does not come easy and takes some heavy lifting to get off the ground. The more the need for ethics and governance is emphasised, the more some organisations and enterprises struggle to comply for reasons best known to them.
Sadly, most of the organisations struggling to maintain ethical practices are also led by captains of industry who profess all things integrity and all but remain a pale shadow in their organisations. Scratching the surface, one will establish that what is loudly and flamboyantly professed is rarely upheld. If it were, the world would be markedly different and a better place.
In the rat race that currently faces organisations, enterprises that have hitherto enjoyed historical success based on ethical practice are now facing pressure to negatively conform.
The economic environment and climate change have put all businesses under pressure to fit into the groove of the orbit under the gravity of statutory compliance that directly or indirectly warrants ethics and governance.
Despite the culture developed over decades, the need for compliance is non-negotiable.
It is perceived as an imposed discipline, but on the contrary, it should become an integral part of the weaving of the fabric of a culture. Compliance to ethical standards should never be whimsical. It is indeed a top-down approach. It warrants an approach of demonstration of commitment through documentation, sensitisation and to ensure buy-in across the business by all stakeholders.
Brands are built with products, service and culture which also reflects the heartbeat of the organisation.
In the same vein, a positive and responsible social outlook is an obligation for every business and can be used well to promote business interests. Both the spoken and body language of every personnel representing a brand must reflect an ethical culture.
Why should the emphasis on ethics and governance arise?
The ethos of each business and the way it is managed create a perception about the brand and people develop identity and loyalty based on it.
Such organisations indeed stand out of the crowd as they make better sense to the public. The brand becomes credible. The business is sustainable as customers’ value that business with respect.
Anyone who aspires for the sustainable and profitable growth would certainly choose to adopt this discipline and create a legacy, which is a much-needed approach in the emerging markets in Africa.
Be it family or professionally managed, private or public sector, it is critical to remain credible and dependable.