Johannesburg - A new corporate debate over whether COVID-19 vaccinations should be mandatory is one, says the Institute of Directors in South Africa (IoDSA), that boards should consider seriously, but with sensitivity and having taken the necessary legal advice.
Already one local healthcare and financial services company has made the decision to enforce vaccinations; and it’s common knowledge many other organisations are grappling with the issue as South Africa encouragingly sees a slowdown of infections due to the pandemic’s third wave, but with warning of a fourth.
Says the IoDSA’s CEO Parmi Natesan, “Given the impact of COVID-19, not only on business but also on lives and livelihoods, this has become top-of-mind issue and one that boards have an ethical responsibility to deal with. In doing so they must act in the best interests of the organisation, ensure a safe environment for the organisation’s stakeholders and ensure that the organisation is and is seen to be a responsible corporate citizen.”
Natesan says directors should also weigh up the needs and risk assessment of the organisation against the constitutional rights of citizens. She says the mandatory vaccine debate would ideally be the purview of a board’s Social and Ethics Committee.
Organisations, Natesan says should also take note of a recent directive from the Labour Department that requires organisations to work towards finding a reasonable and equitable solution that accommodates parties who have valid reasons to not be vaccinated.
Notes, Natesan, “Not only in South Africa but around the world this is an emotional and potentially divisive issue. The IoDSA recommends that organisations, if they have not done so already, begin a dialogue with unions and staff-organisations to find common ground.”
Natesan says boards should also be aware that a decision – either enforcing or not enforcing a vaccine - could have reputational impact and to that end they should have plans in place to deal with the potential fallout.
Internally the IoDSA is strongly encouraging its employees, members and other stakeholders to get vaccinated. She says, “We believe it’s the right thing to do. Business and the economy in South Africa need to do this to move on.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Stephné du Toit, 084 587 9933, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.atthatpoint.co.za
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CONCERN OVER CURRENT SA ECONOMIC CLIMATE BUT DIRECTORS MORE BULLISH ABOUT FUTURE BUSINESS CONDITIONS
LATEST DIRECTOR SENTIMENT SURVEY BY THE INSTIUTE OF DIRECTORS IN SOUTH AFRICA
JOHANNESBURG - COMPANY directors in South Africa feel predominantly negative about economic conditions facing South Africa in coming months and are also increasingly concerned over a shortage of skilled labour as well as sometimes onerous union demands.
That’s the top line from the 2021 Institute of Directors in South Africa (IoDSA) Sentiment Index – the sixth iteration of the study. The survey seeks to gauge how South African directors view the current operating climate. The survey was conducted earlier this year when South Africa was on a national adjusted Level 3 lockdown due to the rising cases of Covid-19.
The IoDSA’s Vikeshni Vandayar Executive: Governance and Corporate Services who oversaw the report says while serious macro-economic concerns understandably remain around the boardroom table, there is a welcome upside in that the perception of general business conditions has improved from 2020. She believes this may be because of the positive adaptation to the so called new normal conditions of remote and virtual working.
This year’s survey included key questions around technology and its uptake given the Covid-19-driven move to a virtual workplace. It’s an issue that patently needs more top-level attention with just 46% of respondents believing boards are devoting enough time to discussion around technology and its future role. Only half of those surveyed believed that directors had a high-level understanding of cybersecurity risks.
Vandayar says while directors are learning to live with the flux and mutability caused by the pandemic, most respondents still feel the uncertainty of the South African economy has impacted their business the most. To that end, corruption and inadequate government service delivery remain in the top ranked challenges affecting business. Energy security is not as much of a concern as it was two years ago but still ranks highly along with inadequate government service delivery.
The IoDSA Director Sentiment Index polls the views of close to 500 directors mostly in an executive capacity. Fifty-nine percent were executive directors and 41% non-executive directors.
In terms of the daily operating business climate, those polled believe that general business sentiment is starting to improve with brighter prospects ahead in the next year. But says Vandayar, the most negative sentiments remain the level of red tape and its impact on business, poor consumer confidence, an over regulated environment, high tax levels and a lack of infrastructure development. She says, “It’s testimony to the resilience, fortitude and application of directors in South Africa that in spite of myriad challenges, many of their businesses remain operational and robust.”
The Index shows that South African directors feel positive towards current governance conditions in South Africa, but it must be noted that this positive sentiment has been decreasing since the survey started in 2016. Notes Vandayar, “Directors felt the most positive about boards adequately setting the tone of ethical conduct through their ethical leadership and most negative about the implementation of good corporate governance practices improving in the next 12 months.”
The top governance challenges are lack of sustainable thinking and a lack of understanding of the overall benefits of good governance.” In terms of the job itself, directors are buoyed that continuous professional development is impacting positively on-board performance but there is concern over the willingness of some directors to take risks that could hinder innovation and growth. In terms of what motivates a director’s willingness to serve on a board, the top factors are a strong adherence to ethical behaviour independence and maintaining and preserving a company’s reputation.
MEDIA CONTACT: Stephné du Toit, 084 587 9933, email@example.com, www.atthatpoint.co.za
For more information on the IoDSA please visit:
LinkedIn: Institute of Directors in South Africa Company Page
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