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November 2011

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Politics, poverty, empathy and the profession

I recently had a very interesting conversation with a friend about the causal link between poverty and crime. Having worked for the African Union and with extensive knowledge of Africa, she very boldly declared that she just doesn’t get how we (South Africans) could very casually proclaim that there’s a causal link between poverty and crime. ‘The whole of Africa is poor – but crime around the continent is not as rife as it is here in SA.’

Of course this view is significantly flawed because nowhere (on this continent at least) is there a bigger divide between the haves and the have-nots! In fact, it’s so blatantly in your face that there certainly should be no mystery as to the link between crime and poverty. It’s not the only reason for crime, but it certainly is a very big part of why corruption, petty theft, and the like, get committed.

And, despite all our laws, regulations, and public outcry against, for instance, corruption and poverty alike, there are very few of us that can honestly say that we’re doing all we can to make a positive impact on both these social evils.

This profession has over the years enjoyed both high regard for the integrity with which we operate within the business world, and we’ve also, unfortunately, experienced the opposite. And with the advent of the new Companies Act and the new regulations around a social and ethics committee with the task of managing the responsibility of how its business operates within our communities, we wait with bated breath to see just how critically this area of social ethics will be understood and managed.

In our December issue we’ll tackle this topic of a regulated social and ethics oversight more succinctly but, for now, we start our journey towards understanding the causal link between poverty, crime and our profession, by understanding how to manage and lead well, so that we can begin to develop, influence and lead our country to even greater heights.

Brand Pretorius, arguably one of our profession’s greatest leaders, shares some insight on the first phase to understanding the links between what we do in the office and its impact on our communities, by sharing his insights on servant leadership.

And Karl Smith then talks to us about understanding empathy in an attempt to have greater leadership impact.

These two insights is the beginning of a great conversation we hope to continue with and engage in with more of the great business leaders our profession has developed.

Raina

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