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Developing ethical leaders for the common good

At Milpark, we don’t just attract any student. Distance learning can be challenging. Many of our students have other commitments such as families of their own, full-time jobs or often both. For that reason, we’re in the fortunate position of attracting students that are driven, focused and have a clear idea of the world they want for themselves and why. But what of the world beyond their own?

The old truths suggest that to lead, leaders must have foresight. They must lead by example; motivate and inspire on a moral basis, through aspiration, as well as recognition and reward. It is these qualities, the attributes of calm, considered, and ethical leadership that find themselves in short supply today. As a business school, it is integral to us that our students and alumni endeavour to be generators of sustainable value both for business as well as society at large.

To work for an inclusive and sustainable economy, not only for ourselves, but for our country, the continent, and the world.

Perhaps the greatest lessons we at Milpark can pass on to our students aren’t to be found in the average accounting school’s textbooks or tutorials. They are lessons that are to be found in the world beyond our comfort zones. For us, accountancy lives beyond the spreadsheet, beyond tables and graphs and algorithms. It comes to life in the every day of the economy and the effect that it has on each and every person within it. In the sense of - and because of this - we all bear a measure of accountability for each other. If we are to play our part in the economy of tomorrow, it must be with an awareness of those spheres in which we can best bring our skills to bear for good.

From the start, it’s Milpark’s philosophy of community. Outreach, community engagement and social responsibilities as part drivers of social, environmental and economic sustainability that has set it apart from other business schools.

It’s a philosophy that increases awareness and nurtures an understanding of the value of private partnership and being aware of, and open to, initiating real, meaningful and lasting change that can make a difference.

It’s possibly no surprise then that our Social Responsibility and Environmental Management module was firmly founded on this philosophy.

The module examines the social, ethical and environmental issues faced not only by business but also other kinds of organisations. NGO’s provide these students with a theoretically supported and invaluable analytical perspective of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The module explores the significance of social responsibility and environmental management from the perspectives of corporate, government, individual and NGO. In this way, students are empowered to assess CSR initiatives, drivers and responses critically. They can recognise current forms of economic activity that are either unsustainable or that may find themselves subject to a broader raft of ethical, social and environmental constraints in the future. By considering social, ethical and environmental issues to the extent to which they represent both constraints as well as opportunities for commercial enterprises, we become better accountants and hopefully better practitioners of change for good.

The best way to impart this philosophy is with real-world experience. Part of the Milpark SREM module’s Summative Assessment requires students to identify a charity. Using the charity, students will present an integrated assignment motivating their choice and alignment with a chosen company. A recommended CSR strategy is also provided for the selected company, which can be beneficial to both.

On the 23rd of June 2020, the 2020 Exam group presentations were held. Eighteen groups of students made presentations on their selected charities, adjudicated by three panels comprised of internal staff, independent contractors and invited panelists from the corporate world. It was awe-inspiring for everyone involved to be presented with so many organisations that are making a real daily change in our society.

Ultimately there was one charity that stood above the rest:

‘Hope of Hope for Girls’ was founded by Khanyisile Motsa. Her goal was to offer a safe residence for children and teens that have survived abusive situations – predominantly those linked to child sex trafficking. Motsa, or “Mam Khanyi” as she’s affectionately known, started Home of Hope because she couldn’t sit back and pretend there wasn’t a need. She knew had it within her to address the problem. Creating the foundation with nothing to her name, Mam Khanyi faced eviction, social backlash and seemingly insurmountable odds in her almost single-handed endeavour to change the girls' lives. She started Home of Hope for Girls because she understood that we all bear a measure of accountability to each other.

Today, Home of Hope for Girls cares for more than 220 young women. Their maxim is that a girl’s background does not define her future. Given a chance, each girl has the potential to lead her community. Mam Khanyi’s work at Home of Hope for Girls is enough to humble anyone. It is the sort of initiative we at Milpark believe in getting behind, which is why we awarded R140 000 to Mam Khanyi and her NGO in an online prize-giving ceremony on the 14th of August 2020. Mam Khanyi and Home of Hope for Girls represent a lesson for all of us.

At Milpark Business School, our focus is on delivering an education that empowers and equips both current and future leaders to pursue ethical and sustainable business practices as informed by the SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals), in an evolving, continental and global milieu. If Milpark’s involvement with Home of Hope for Girls is just the starting point in changing the way our students view tomorrow’s economy and their role within it, then we’re onto a good path. Ultimately, if we are to be guided by our internal compass in accounting, we sometimes need to learn how to lead with our heart and not just our head.

Useful resources:
Milpark Business School
Since 2008, Milpark has offered a wide range of programmes targeted at meeting the needs of students in business in South Africa. In addition to management education, Milpark also offers a wide range of qualifications in financial planning and insurance, and banking and investment. As a result, Milpark is a leading niche provider of qualifications to many sectors, able to offer an articulation path from FET through to the highly valued MBA degree.
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