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Integrity Training for Africa
Did you know well-governed companies perform better in commercial terms? But how can leaders ensure their employees play the game by acting with integrity in all their dealings? Integrity training and learning from those who’ve suffered “lapses” should help to steady your ship and keep it out of turbulent waters.
Charissa Bloomberg, celebrity psychologist and integrity specialist, says the focus tends to be wrong – often on punishment and retribution – when big corporates make the headlines over matters of corruption and fraud; often just related to one or two corrupt individuals. Instead, she advises, we should become forward-focused and begin to instill integrity-conscious skills into individuals and, indeed, society at large.
Raising the integrity meter
Bloomberg offers corporate training through her business, Hidden Dimensions, which gives executives at all levels – from cleaner to CEO – advice on what integrity means and how to apply it in their everyday lives. She comments that her training is not focused on ethics (i.e. a set of moral principles that can be enforced), but rather on integrity (i.e. the quality of being honest and acting on your moral principles). She stands by the opinion that, without integrity, there can be no ethics.
Having integrity as your inner compass requires an inward conversation in which an individual looks at the various options available to them, and chooses the one that will be of most benefit and have the fewest negative consequences to all involved. In the business world, it can make the difference between losing your reputation and billions of rands; versus your brand being perceived in a postitive light and its coffers and reputation remaining in tact.
President Cyril Ramaphosa included in his State of the Nation Address several important strategies in the fight against corruption within government – specifically within state-owned enterprises and the education system. It has been a decade since the Scorpions were disbanded, but now Ramaphosa plans to set up a similar division within the National Prosecuting Authority to fight grand corruption and state capture.
This move has been big on restoring the institutional integrity that was almost destroyed under the country’s former president, and shows the importance of strong leadership, in government and business, especially in troubled times. Such lessons can be applied to troubled big corporates too, but a leader must not just say all the right things; he must also act in the right ways. He must, most importantly, follow through on what he has said.
Fixing the fall-out
Every second day, it seems, a big South African corporate makes headlines for its accounting irregularities or looting; its auditing inaccuracies, plagiarism or inability to treat customers fairly. Social media fuels the fire and, after an organisation has lost credibility in the public eye, former customers often take their business elsewhere.
For those who remain behind, it’s a hard road and a tough climb to rebuild a reputation that’s been damaged. Customers and suppliers tend to disassociate themselves with the organisation and staff leave to work for other companies.
While society wants retribution and punishment for corrupt atrocities, especially those involving the reckless squndering of hard-earned retirement funds, for example, Bloomberg advises that as a nation we should rather start to look ahead to a point where preventative measures have been implemented. How would we get to such a point? What needs to be implemented right now? How can we work towards such a situation in our daily lives?
Prevention is better than cure
Bloomberg is of the firm belief that we put structures in place to prevent such happenings in the first place; corporate training on integrity needs to become standard throughout all industries, covering topics such as what integrity is and how it should ideally be applied in our daily lives.
After an integrity lapse, the best modus operandi for remaining leaders is of course to:
• preserve staff who want to work towards a solution i.e. don’t eject the pilot/crew of a faulty plane. They are the most likely people to be able to land that plane safely;
• be clear, in media statements, about what’s gone wrong and how it is going to be rectified – which will earn the respect of remaining clients and suppliers; and
• emphasise good governance at every point going forward – it can overturn a rotten corporate culture like nothing else.
But prevention of a bad situation is obviously preferrable to actually getting into that situation in the first place. For this reason, she feels all employees at a firm should be able to experience integrity awareness training, during which they can sign the integrity pledge available here. Additionally, businesses of all shapes and sizes can elect integrity ambassadors and can also publicly reward staff who act with integrity during the course of their daily duties. Bloomberg laments that we need to be able to self-reflect on the choices we are presented with each day, so that we can set about making the right decisions – those that impact well not only on our own lives, but also on our colleagues, family members, neighbours, fellow citizens and so forth.
In the corporate training offered by her business, Hidden Dimensions, Bloomberg sets about helping to instill important skills in delegates. “Stop and think,” she cautions them. “Stealing, behaving unethically, other forms of greed and corruption – these things will always be temptations, but they will come back and bite you; hard. The organisation you work for, your family, friends and beyond.”
Beyond her group sessions within the corporate world, Bloomberg suggests that various dialogues are held, where organisations that have suffered integrity lapses can come together and discuss the lessons they have learned as they search for and strive towards a way forward. “As a psychologist, I believe we are a traumatised and angry society. An angry society is an aggressive and unhealthy one. It’s time to start rebuilding and healing the damage that the conscious corruption and unethical behaviour taking place in South Africa (and universally) has wreaked upon us all.”
A dialogue session focused on integrity lapses and how to move forward will lead up to Bloomberg’s first Integrity Forum for South Africa, taking place later this year in Cape Town.
To book or find out more about integrity training for your company, contact Charissa Bloomberg of Hidden Dimensions on 082 737 8988 or firstname.lastname@example.org; and sign her integrity pledge at this link: https://integrityforum.co.za/pledge/.
For media opportunities, contact Vanessa Rogers of TextBOX Conceptual on 082 22 8496 or email@example.com.