Introduction to Corporate Citizenship in Africa

Corporate Citizenship in Africa:

Lessons from the Past; Paths to the Future

Chapter by Wayne Visser

Extract from Corporate Citizenship in Africa

2005 saw a renewed interest in development and Africa, both regionally and internationally, most notably with the publication of Our Common Interest, the Commission for Africa’s Report chaired by the British Prime Minister with representatives from across Africa. This led to Africa being a specific focus at that summer’s G8 Summit at Gleneagles in Scotland, and, amongst other initiatives, the USA agreeing to reform, to some extent, its aid budgets to poor countries. This was, of course, prior to hurricanes Rita and Katrina that later in the year hit the Southern States of the US: exposing significant levels of poverty and neglect within the world’s richest country.  The G8 meeting was preceded by Live8 which was seen globally by some three billion people, making it the world’s single largest event. Prior to this concert thirty million people signed a petition to the G8 leaders. As this book goes to press discussions are taking place on reform of the United Nations, one of the issues being how Africa could be better represented on the Security Council and other UN bodies.

Despite this progress, much of the literature on Africa remains problem-focussed, seeing Africa either as a moral dilemma for the rest of the world or as a waste of good aid money poured down the drain. This attitude is propped up by a plethora of statistics that show how Africa remains a marginal region in global terms: With 12% of the world’s population (around 750 million people) in 53 countries, Africa accounts for less than 2% of global gross domestic product (GDP) and FDI, and less than 10% of FDI to all developing countries. Of the 81 poorest countries prioritised by the International Development Association, almost half are in Africa. And even within Africa, there is highly skewed development, with the largest ten economies accounting for 75% of the continent’s GDP.

But there is also a growing desire to develop a better understanding of the world’s second largest continent and to celebrate the life of its people, literature, poetry, music, sport and social structures. And despite generally negative press, there has been significant progress on the continent over the past decade. Fifteen countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, have been growing on average more than 5% per year since the mid-1990s. And foreign direct investment (FDI) rose to $8.5 billion in 2004, up from $7.8 billion the previous year. At the same time, Africa’s new generation of leaders, through initiatives like the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Union and the East African Community, are taking responsibility for development.

Higher quantities and quality scholarly research is obviously needed, but so too is changing media perceptions outside Africa so that its richness is reflected on television screens around the world. Our Common Interest pointed out that Africa is different, that Africa’s development must follow a different path because of its history. For instance a snapshot of Africa in 2005 tells us that …

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Cite this chapter

Visser, W. (2006) Corporate Citizenship in Africa: Lessons from the Past; Paths to the Future, In W. Visser, M. McIntosh & C. Middleton (eds.), Corporate Citizenship in Africa: Lessons from the Past; Paths to the Future, Sheffield: Greenleaf, 10-17.

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CSR Pyramid for Africa

Revisiting Carroll’s CSR Pyramid:

An African Perspective

Chapter by Wayne Visser

Extract from Corporate Citizenship in Developing Countries

This chapter explores the nature of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in an African context, using Carroll’s CSR Pyramid as a framework for descriptive analysis. Carroll’s CSR Pyramid is probably the most well known model of CSR, with its four levels indicating the relative importance of economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic responsibilities respectively. However, the exploration of CSR in Africa is also used to challenge the accuracy and relevance Carroll’s CSR Pyramid. If Carroll’s basic four-part model is accepted, it is suggested that the relative priorities of CSR in Africa are likely to be different from the classic, American ordering. However, it is also proposed that Carroll’s CSR Pyramid may not be the best model for understanding CSR in general, and CSR in Africa in particular. Anglo American is used as a case study to illustrate the debate.

The African Context

The debate over Africa’s future has taken centre stage recently, with the publication of Our Common Interest, the report of the Commission for Africa (2005). The report calls for improved governance and capacity building, the pursuit of peace and security, investment in people, economic growth and poverty reduction, and increased and fairer trade. It is not hard to see that business has a key role to play in this transformation process, with much of its contribution capable of being to be framed in terms of CSR.

Despite generally negative press, there has been significant progress on the continent over the past decade. Fifteen countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia, and Burkina Faso, have been growing on average more than 5% per year since the mid-1990s. And foreign direct investment (FDI) rose to $8.5 billion in 2004, up from $7.8 billion the previous year (World Bank, 2005a). Africa’s new generation of leaders, through initiatives like the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) , the African Union  and the East African Community , are taking responsibility for development (Lundy & Visser, 2003).

Nevertheless, Africa remains a marginal region in global terms: With 12% of the world’s population (around 750 million people) in 53 countries, Africa accounts for less than 2% of global gross domestic product (GDP) and FDI, and less than 10% of FDI to all developing countries (African Development Bank, 2003, 2004). Of the 81 poorest countries prioritised by the International Development Association, almost half are in Africa (World Bank, 2005a). And even within Africa, there is highly skewed development, with the largest ten economies accounting for 75% of the continent’s GDP (African Development Bank, 2004).

The extent of the challenge for CSR in Africa becomes even clearer when we are reminded of the scale of social needs that still exist, despite decades of aid and development effort …

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Cite this chapter

Visser, W. (2006) Revisiting Carroll’s CSR Pyramid: An African Perspective, In E.R. Pedersen & M. Huniche (eds.), Corporate Citizenship in Developing Countries, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press, 29–56

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Transforming Business

Transforming Business:

The Power of Perception

Chapter by Wayne Visser

Extract from Beyond Reasonable Greed

There is a growing body of literature on what could be loosely described as explorations in ‘new paradigm’ thinking. Included in this is an implicit belief about the nature of transformation. It is that revolutionary change is more often the result of new ways of thinking about things (i.e. changes in perception) than new ways of doing things.

This chapter attempts to apply this thinking to business, i.e. to explore more deeply the emerging new paradigm in business. What are the new perspectives which are beginning to challenge the old way of thinking about and doing business? And is there a common thread or theme which runs through the heart of these new insights?

So what are these basic assumptions about business which have come on trial of late? There are many but this article will focus on only three of the most important, namely profit, competition and rationality. Discussion of each will be prefaced by a belief statement from the old paradigm and concluded with a suggested new paradigm belief statement.

Profit

The old paradigm belief statement is: The ultimate and sole function, goal and responsibility of business is to make a financial profit.

Although this belief has been tempered by a growing awareness of social responsibility since the 1960s, the mindset of the vast majority of business leaders still places exclusive profit making firmly at the apex of the business pyramid. Everything else is regarded as peripheral to this core process.

This emphasis on short-term individual gain all too often results in the long-term wellbeing of employees, the community, society and the environment being sacrificed as pawns in a ruthless game of corporate chess. This approach – with its tacit assumption that people are primarily motivated by conquest and material acquisition – has been a major limiting factor in managers’ ability to tap the human potential of their organisations in any significant way.

The call now being sounded therefore is for what US futurist Willis Harman would call a new “central project” in business. This transformed focus could include service to society as the key goal of business. Enhanced quality of life could be its guiding principle and a strong set of ethics and values its foundation. Further, the search for meaning and creativity in the work place as well as holistic personal and collective learning could become the key measures of performance within an organisation.

This image may not be as far-fetched as many would suppose. UK business commentator Francis Kinsman for example, cites evidence from an SRI International study which suggests that a growing proportion of British society (currently more than a third) is becoming ‘inner directed’ in nature. These are people whose behaviour is typically driven by non-materialistic factors and whose emphasis is more on the esoteric and qualitative than the material and quantitative …

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Visser, W. (2005) Transforming Business: The Power of Perception, In W. Visser, Business Frontiers: Social Responsibility, Sustainable Development and Economic Justice, Hyberabad: ICFAI University, 5-10.

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Books

Books

Prose by Wayne Visser

~ Books are the ongoing conversation of the ages ~ 

Do you have a soft spot for books, a weakness for their charms?
Do you think of books with fondness, regard them with affection?
Perhaps you would even go so far as to say that you have a love affair with books?
 
Books are such sweet seduction.
Who can resist the coy enticement of an enigmatic title, the alluring perfume of virginal pages, or the beckoning gesture of a back cover synopsis?
Dressed in shining leather, laced with gold trim, trailing a teasing ribbon, who can fail to be bewitched?
Or are you beguiled by the more rugged, travel-savvy type, whose rough looks hint at adventures barely survived?
 
Whatever your preference, books have a way of grabbing our attention, revealing just enough to pique our interest and then string us along, toying with our emotions, keeping us guessing.
With each successive chapter, another button is undone, another layer shed, another feature unveiled.
 
Some books are a sun-kissed afternoon spent in pleasant idle chatter.
Others are a romantic-laden dinner full of suggestive glances.
And still others are a pace-quickening ride ending in a breathless climax.
 
What are your favourite books?
Can you remember the first book that made a real impact on you?
 
When we learn to read, we forge a magical key to a vault of unimaginable hoarded wealth.
When we enter in, the vast cavern is stacked from floor to ceiling with treasure chests, just waiting for us to open them and find out what is inside.
 
Every book is a mystery trapped between two covers.
And we are the only ones who can release the riddle from bondage.
We are the only ones who can undertake the fairytale quest to discover its secrets.
 
When we start reading a book, we are blind to the journey we are about to undertake, of the magical places we will visit and the mortal dangers we will encounter.
We have no idea how the story will end, not least the tale of our own transformation.
For every book is a philosopher’s stone, a rite of alchemy which changes us.
 
Books are a meeting place – between author and reader, between expressed intent and receptive imagination, between past and present.
 
Whoever said that time travel has yet to be invented has never read a book.
Books transport us back in history, to exotic places and strange times.
For all books are a child of their time.
We see old worlds through new eyes, and new worlds through old eyes.
There are no limits to where the enchanted time-machine we call books can take us.
 
And yet, no matter how far we travel, in time and space, in creativity and imagination, we end up back at the same place we started – the place where people connect.
Books are always about relationships, about the interaction between characters.
 
Books are the dialogue which never ends, the eternal human conversation.
We can choose how much of the dialogue to listen to, how much of the conversation to participate in.
We can voice our agreement or register our dissent.
And every word will add to the evolving story of humankind.
 
Books are power in our hands and wisdom in our heads.
Books are passion in our hearts and levity in our souls.
They are all these things and more.
 
Yet their ready accessibility keeps books out of the reach of many.
Their common appearance disguises their unbelievable worth.
Do not let yourself be fooled.
Claim your prize today.
Set off on a journey into the unknown.
Allow yourself to be seduced.
 
What book will you choose?
And more tellingly, what book will choose you?
 

Wayne Visser © 2005

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Ubuntu Capitalism

Setting the Global Agenda for Ubuntu Capitalism

Chapter by Wayne Visser

Extract from South Africa 2014: The Story of Our Future

Within the space of a decade, South African business has moved from being pariahs of the world to leaders in the global corporate responsibility movement. This section highlights the significant progress which has been made by the private sector, as well as the potential for South Africa to continue to shape a new agenda for capitalism across seven key dimensions.

Legal reform

Building on the ANC’s Reconstruction and Development agenda (which in turn was based on the Freedom Charter), human rights, sustainable development and corporate transparency became enshrined in the 1996 constitution and embedded in what is widely regarded as some of the most progressive legislation in socio-economic and environmental development in the world. For example, the environmental rights now enshrined in the Bill of Rights are hailed worldwide.

By inextricably linking social, economic and ecological development in its legal framework, South Africa is showing the world that the old conflicts between environmental conservation, social development and economic growth can be resolved by adopting a new model of integrated sustainable development. The foundation for improved quality of life has therefore been laid and in the next 10 years in South Africa we can expect to see:While many countries still rely on outdated legislation, the wave of reform over the past decade in South Africa has resulted in brand new statutes on ecological responsibility (e.g. the National Environmental Management Act), occupational health and safety (e.g. the Mine Health and Safety Act), investment in human capital (e.g. the Employment Equity Act), governance (e.g. the Promotion of Access to Information Act), ethics (the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act) and socio-economic development (e.g. the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act).

  • Civil society demonstrating increasingly healthy activism to bring about environmental and social justice
  • Government continuing to enact and refine progressive legislation and to enhance its enforcement capacity
  • Business becoming the primary vehicle for ensuring that integrated sustainable development is delivered on the ground

Corporate governance

When the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoD) published the King Report on Corporate Governance in South Africa in 1992, it was the first of all the governance codes in the world to stress the importance of wider stakeholder interests beyond narrow shareholder demands. This global thought leadership was once again demonstrated when, in its revised King Report in 2002 (King II), the IoD included a whole chapter on sustainability reporting, including extensive referencing to two leading-edge international standards, the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, and Accountability’s AA 1000 framework.

The King II requirement that “every company should report at least annually on the nature and extent of its social, transformation, ethical, safety, health and environmental management policies and practices” has already paid dividends. Surveys by KPMG show that 85% South Africa’s top 100 listed companies in 2003 were already reporting on sustainability-related issues, compared with only 48% in 1997. This remarkable progress is assisted by the fact that the Johannesburg Stock Exchange has made compliance with King II a listing requirement …

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Cite this chapter

Visser, W. (2004) Setting the Global Agenda for Ubuntu Capitalism, In B. Bowes, S. Pennington & G. Lundy, South Africa 2014: The Story Of Our Future, Johannesburg: South Africa The Good News, 349-351.

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Top 10 Reasons to Believe

Top 10 Reasons to Believe

Chapter by Wayne Visser

Extract from the book South Africa: Reasons to Believe

1    SA is a nation of survivors

We’ve transformed countless times and faced untold hardships with great courage and remarkable endurance. We’ve got tried-and-tested skills to vasbyt, to adapt, to survive, to thrive.

2    SA is proof that miracles do happen

Between 1994 and 2001, people with houses increased from 64% to 77%, people with electricity went up from 58% to 80% and those with piped water rose from 68% to 76%.

3    SA is rapidly redefining its image

From morrisjones&co’s Homecoming Revolution ad campaign to expats, to Proudly South African’s logo for quality local products, to the IMC’s Brand South Africa initiative, ‘Alive with Possibility’.

4    SA is poised for an economic take-off

We’re currently the 7th best performing economy in the world with the 3rd highest export growth rate (higher than the export explosion Japan experienced in the 50’s and 60’s!).

5    SA inspires world-class business

SAB (now SABMiller) is the world’s 2nd largest brewer, while the inspirational Mark  Shuttleworth captured 40% of the Internet digital certification market before selling Thawte Verification for $575 million.

6    SA is blessed with natural and cultural assets

We have four World Heritage Sites: The Cradle of Humankind, Robben Island, St Lucia Wetland and the Drakensberg. And the new 35 000 km2 Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is larger than many European countries.

7    SA’s diversity is a fountain of creativity

Miriam Makeba was the 1st African Grammy winner in 1967. Nadine Gordimer and J.M Coetzee have both won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Athol Fugard is the second most performed playwright in English, after Shakespeare.

8    SA has produced icons of history

We have four Nobel Peace Prize winners — Albert Luthuli (1960), Desmond Tutu (1984), and Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk (1993). Gandhi first tested his passive resistance technique in SA and Jan Smuts wrote the preamble of the UN Charter.

9    SA can show the world a new better way

No country is better positioned to prove to the international onlookers that different cultures can co-mingle and produce a remarkable civilisation.

10   South Africans can make a real difference

Challenges bring opportunities to really do something meaningful.  As SA rabbi, Warren Goldstein, puts it: ‘Our lives are full of significance here. It may not always be “pleasantville”, but it’s always “meaningful”.

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Cite this chapter

Visser, W. (2003) Top 10 Reasons to Believe, In G. Lundy & W. Visser, South Africa: Reasons to Believe! Cape Town: Aardvark, 1-14.

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Rainbows and Stormclouds

Rainbows and Stormclouds

Chapter by Wayne Visser

Extract from South Africa: Reasons to Believe!

There are many words to describe South Africa’s incredible journey through recent history. ‘Dull’ is certainly not one of them; neither is ‘boring’ or ‘predictable’. Rather, words like ‘epic’ and ‘revolutionary’ come to mind. Much like those brave and sometimes arrogant navigators and explorers of the new world, we South Africans are a travel-hardened and weather-beaten bunch, with many rough storms and cruel twists of fate behind our back. Amazingly, we have endured. We are survivors. And we should be immensely proud. We should constantly remind ourselves how tough we really are; how, despite all the trials and tribulations we have faced, we have, repeatedly, overcome.

Of course, it’s easy to be philosophical during the good times, when the sun is shining brightly and the waters are calm and sparkling. It’s far more difficult when the wind is howling and the ship’s mast is creaking, when the waves are crashing over the bough and the senses are numb from the lashing rain. And yet, this is exactly what the last few decades in South Africa have felt like – a relentless cycle of storms and rainbows. Like a sailing ship on the high seas, we have ridden out deep, dark troughs of fear and intimidation to ride high on the crest of the waves of liberating change, only to be plunged back into the torrid swells again. It has been a rough ride, by anyone’s reckoning, and the journey is not yet at its end.

Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that fear and uncertainty still hangs like a dark cloud over our national psyche. We want to start this book by acknowledging the bad-weather pessimism that many people feel in our country today. But we also want to place it into perspective. In this first chapter, as we briefly recall some of the highs and lows of our roller coaster ride of recent years, we take heart from how far we have come in such a short time. After all, in the broad sweep of history, our achievements are nothing short of amazing. We remind ourselves how good we are at surviving and thriving, despite the odds. We are proof that the sun always does come out after the storm. We show that even the darkest clouds on our horizon have a silver lining. And, for good measure, we buff up those breathtaking colours of the rainbow that this nation has become. …

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Visser, W. (2003) Rainbows and Stormclouds, In G. Lundy & W. Visser, South Africa: Reasons to Believe! Cape Town: Aardvark, 1-14.

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Reformation and Pragmagic

Reformation and Pragmagic

Chapter by Wayne Visser

Extract from Beyond Reasonable Greed

As we write this introduction we are very conscious of magic. Magic, it seems, is a catchy theme right now, both in our own lives and in the world around us. This is hardly surprising, what with J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories having come to life on the big silver screen. But the magic we are talking about is not of the wizardry kind. Merlin can stay in his cave. Nor is it of the David Copperfield genre where the audience knows that they’re being hoodwinked but are prepared to suspend their belief in the interests of excitement. No, we are talking about something more genuine, more tangible, more practical – what brain-mind researcher Marilyn Ferguson called ‘pragmagic’.

In our interpretation of the word, magic is the revelation that results from a profound change in perception or understanding. The superstitious world of the Middle Ages was magically transformed by the wizards of art and science – Da Vinci, Galileo, Copernicus and Newton. Then the quantum physicists waved their wands and subtly altered Newton’s clockwork universe. Today, the magic continues as the seemingly impossible is conjured up with breakthroughs in areas like biotechnology, artificial intelligence and human consciousness.

But magic is not restricted to the sciences. Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk weaved their own form of magic to create the New South Africa. Unlike in art and the sciences where the magic is normally provided by individuals working on their own, the magic in politics often comes from the development of a positive chemistry between the leading players. This chemistry then leads to an outcome greater than the contribution of any individual member and takes them all by surprise.

Nevertheless, as with everything in life, there’s good magic and bad magic. The Swastika was bad magic. When Hitler unfurled it, he temporarily turned the most scientifically advanced nation on Earth back into savage barbarians. In his footsteps followed Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot who turned their followers into killing machines of their own people. By the millions. And the chemistry was pure evil. Today bad magic continues to bedevil regions like the Middle East and Northern Ireland where thirst for revenge plunges ordinary people into acts of lunacy and callousness. In the name of God or Allah. And He is always on your side.

What, you may be asking, has all this to do with business? Well, magic has everything to do with business and this book. For the simple reason that bad magic has moved many companies into a state that is beyond reasonable greed. And the public have a good idea of the boundary between ‘reasonable’ and ‘obscene’. Recently, in South Africa, we have had several disclosures on the size of individual packages and the terms of share incentive schemes which have caused tremendous hue and cry. They have been clearly out of wack with the norm. To give companies the benefit of the doubt, they may not have consciously exceeded the limits of reasonableness. Their boards probably comprise the normal spectrum of saints and sinners; but somehow they have allowed themselves to be collectively swept along by the prevailing paradigm of success which is purely financial, and that in turn has led to unreasonable behaviour. …

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Visser, W. (2002) Reformation and Pragmagic, In W. Visser, Beyond Reasonable Greed: Why Sustainable Business is a Much Better Idea! Cape Town: Tafelberg Human & Rousseau,  11-17.

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