SAICA Chairman’s Difference Makers Awards
The 2022 Chairman’s Difference Makers Awards, sponsored by SAPRO, recognises SAICA members who are #differencemakers in various areas of business and society – those who have breached the gap between being good and being excellent.
The awards acknowledge members who make decisions that provide sustained prosperity for all and help shape communities, economies and society while applying the highest standards of ethics, integrity and accountability.
The Ethical Leadership award recognises someone living the SAICA Code of Professional Conduct – someone with integrity, who complies with laws and regulations and is honest in all business dealings, and who has the courage to stand up for what is right, regardless of the repercussions.
Parmi Natesan CA(SA), chief executive officer of IoDSA is a renowned corporate governance specialist with extensive board experience. She has received numerous accolades, including a Rising Star alumni award and Top 40 women under the age of 40. She was also recently a finalist for Businesswoman of the Year and was awarded Global Women Achiever.
Parmi was the youngest ever CEO of the IoDSA and also the first person of colour to lead the organisation. She is a strong advocate for gender equality in business and strives to have her work inspire other young women of colour to rise in the ranks and achieve greatness.
Under her leadership, 63% of the IoDSA Board is female, 100% of IoDSA executive management is female, 79% of IoDSA management team is female, 76% of the full IoDSA staff complement is female, 75% of staff bursaries for 2022 have been allocated to females, 67% of the management development programme for 2021 was awarded to females and 75% of employee promotions in 2021 were female.
Parmi serves on many committees, including the King Committee and the Anti-intimidation and Ethical Practices Forum. She is also an advocate for Unite for Mzansi. The Unite 4 Mzansi™ initiative will unveil the key lessons learnt from state capture and the corruption that has occurred in companies to mobilise civil society to work together to see what can be done to prevent such an occurrence from happening in the private and public sectors again.
Apart from leading within her organisation, Parmi also plays a leading role in advocating for good corporate governance publicly for the sake of SA Inc.
She firmly believes that South Africa will only prosper if everybody advocates for and insists on ethical and effective leadership.
Passionate about what she believes, Parmi wrote a letter to Raymond Zondo prior to his Zondo Commission Reports being released. In it, she wrote “South Africa urgently needs to reverse the tide of corruption and associated state capture to secure its future. The work of the Commission, and in particular its recommendations, is widely seen as important in setting the comprehensive change agenda needed to set the country on a positive future trajectory. Change will not be successful unless our leaders understand what is expected of them. Our institutional leaders need to display and embody a set of defined characteristics. These hold good, not just for the leaders of institutions like companies, non-profits and state-owned entities, but arguably should define those who lead South Africa Inc. These leadership characteristics are:
- The correct mixture of knowledge, skills and experience.
- A commitment to ethical behaviour and decision-making directed towards the best interests of the organisation they are serving, in line with the ICRAFT model (integrity, competence, responsibility, accountability, fairness and transparency).
- Perhaps most important of all, our leaders need to be held accountable for their actions, and a means for removing transgressors swiftly from office must be found. Excessive reliance on lengthy and expensive court processes needs to be replaced by alternative frameworks for accountability.
South Africans have lost faith in the institutions of their society. They are looking to your Commission’s report for a set of recommendations that will indicate how those who abuse these institutions will be held to account and, more important still, that will begin to erect a framework that supports better governance and ethical decision-making across the whole of society. We trust the recommendations contained in this letter contribute to helping the Commission fulfil these high expectations.”
“Poor leadership got us into a situation,” she explains. “Good leadership is the only way out of it. As directors, we have the opportunity – and privilege – of providing that leadership within our organisations and contributing to the necessary change in our corporate culture,” Parmi explains. “To borrow from the IoDSA’s tagline – a concept which I am so passionate about, and which our country so desperately needs – “Better Directors, Better Boards, Better Business”.
Parmi feels it receiving the Ethical Leadership award is an absolute honour and privilege. “I was already overwhelmed to see the list of finalists and my name amongst these giants in the industry!”
However, Parmi doesn’t do the work she does to win awards. “We do what we do because it’s the right thing to do – for our organisations and our country. But receiving these kinds of awards are so gratifying as they just make our voices and our impact even larger.”
Parmi strives to continue making an impact in corporate governance in South Africa whilst raising two hard-working and responsible teenagers as she believes the next generations are South Africa’s future leaders. She also knows part of her legacy is to set an example for the successful integration of work and home for working mothers.