The role business must play in South Africa

November 2, 2020 | Posted By [dot]GOOD

In South Africa: As Trust Falls Business Expected to Lead, Jordan Rittenberry notes that “77% of the general [South African] population believe that CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for the government to impose it. In addition, when asked which of the four institutions is the most likely to lead to a better future, 45% chose business, while only 11% chose government.”

This research underlines the trust that consumers place in the competency of business to leverage social investment, as well as a growing expectation that business leaders work to effect change. It also highlights the value of a clearly defined brand purpose (read more about The Importance of Purpose). Socially responsible examples of ethical business practice will have a growing impact on consumer choice. Making a difference is good for communities – increasingly, it’s good business.

The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020 makes for fascinating reading. It explores the views of more than 27 500 millennials and Gen Zs, both before (in 43 countries, including South Africa) and after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic (in 13 countries). Millennial respondents were born between January 1983 and December 1994; Gen Zs between January 1995 and December 2002. Those described as Gen Z are coming to the end of their high school and tertiary education or are a few years into their first job; the millennials are already in the workforce.

Respondents from both generations said they’ll make a special effort to more actively patronise and support businesses – especially smaller, local sellers – after the pandemic. And they won’t hesitate to penalise companies whose values conflict with their own.

As the researchers noted in the Executive Summary, “If anything, the pandemic has reinforced their desire to help drive positive change in their communities and around the world.” They added that these young people continue to push for a world in which businesses and governments mirror that same commitment to society, putting people ahead of profits and prioritising environmental sustainability.

“The world that follows the Covid-19 pandemic surely will be different and is likely to be more aligned with the ideals that millennials and Gen Zs have expressed in this and previous Millennial Surveys. They’ve seen how quickly the earth can heal, how rapidly business can adapt, and how resourceful and cooperative people can be. They know that a post-pandemic society can be better than the one that preceded it, and they’re tenacious enough to make it a reality.”

The pandemic has wreaked havoc, but the opportunity is clear. Businesses are being called to lead the change and lead with ethical purpose. If they do, consumers will support them.

Of course, real change will require cooperation between the very institutions Edelman measures trust in – government, business, media and NGOs. The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that in South Africa only business is seen as competent and only NGOs are seen as ethical. It also shows that where there is trust, all those institutions are more closely aligned.

But business can’t take on these challenges alone. dotGOOD’s expertise in cause marketing can help you leverage shared value through collaborations with government and NGOs (read Shared Value: the Real Value Proposition), and our excellent media relations will ensure that consumers know about the good you do.

We are the link between government, business, media and NGOs. Call us.