A massive multinational company, whose auditor also happens to be a massive multinational company, is accused of accounting fraud. The CEO steps down “with immediate effect”, the company loses 80% of its market capitalisation and tens of billions of rand are wiped off the JSE. Nice work Steinhoff and Deloitte; take a bow.

I feel a sense of Deja Vu…haven’t we been here before? Is this finally the time to discuss the toxic impact of the lack of ethical leadership?

Leaders should think much harder about business ethics than they appear to at present. It has often been said that there is a lack of clarity about business ethics that gives rise to confusion over what their responsibilities are, and over where the limits of those responsibilities lie. Here’s a list of ethical principles to get the conversation started*:

1.   Do no harm

2.   Make things better

3.   Respect others

4.   Be fair

5.   Care

Let the dialogue begin!

*Principles of Biomedical Ethics by Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress