WORLDVIEW: Others must heed FirstRand – in SA, no automatic social licence to do business

By Alec Hogg

In Parliament yesterday South Africa’s leading banking group showed us that in this rapidly transforming country the business of business is no longer just business. SA companies are being held to an ever-higher standard. Their old stand-offish approach no longer washes – businesses now must be seen to be having a beneficial impact on society.

This responsibility is sure to raise demands for increased disclosure from those now asking the questions. But that is tomorrow’s debate. For the moment, all SA executives should be paying close attention to what FirstRand CEO Johan Burger presented to Parliament yesterday. It is a stark reminder of business’s need to engage and communicate clearly to a political regime which continues to grapple with the concept of free enterprise.

Johan Burger, chief executive officer of FirstRand. Photographer: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg

By every measure, FirstRand’s contribution to SA societal advancement is remarkable. The bank sets a hi...

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