Ethical Decision-Making

                   

July 31st 2015 marked the kick-off of the activities of the Centre for African Nations Education and Research on Public Administration (CANERPA), an institution engaged in the development process of the African continent, through the reinforcement of capacity in public and private enterprises, founded in 2014. The organisation seeks to carry out its goal by means of customized training in ethics, human resource and business quality processes. It is in this light therefore that, in commemoration of the 53rd edition of the Day of the African Woman, CANERPA in association with CANEM CONSULTING organised a one-day workshop designated for women in diverse businesses, aimed at educating them on the importance of ethics in the work place.

The program took place at the CNPS Hall, Bonanjo – Douala and unfolded under the theme Ethical Decision-Making. The founder of the organisation, Dr. Annie Smith, got together some noteworthy speakers to share their insight and educate the women on the subject.

The day’s activities were coordinated by the former Director of CRTV Littoral, M.Serge Ngando who invited the participants at the seminar to pay homage to the African woman, for the diverse roles that they occupy in society.

The seminar was graced by the presence of the Regional Delegate for Women Empowerment and the Family, Mme Makota Isabelle who led the official commencement of the activities of the day. In her opening speech, she congratulated all the various companies who had the initiative to register their female employees for the one-day workshop organised by CANERPA, and equally entrepreneurs and every other woman present at the seminar, who may not find herself attached to a particular organisation, but deduced the importance of this program, given that ethics is beneficial not only for the effective functioning of companies, but also, for personal development.

The Regional Delegate also highlighted the importance of the day being commemorated, giving a brief history of the day, which was the initiative of the African Union, and stressing on the importance of the theme of the 53rd edition, as adopted by the delegation, “Women Empowerment and the Fight Against Poverty.”

 She equally tied this theme to the theme of the seminar, considering that an aspect of the women’s empowerment is related to the women being able to make critical decisions and transforming these decisions into actions which would be productive. She ended her speech by congratulating the founder and administrator of CANERPA, for the noble initiative.

The first speaker of the day was Mme Leonie Ngane Epse Essama, Head of Department at the Directorate of Planning and Regulation, ENEO Cameroon. She gave an exposé on the “Importance of Ethics in Cameroonian Companies”, with her own company, ENEO, as a case study. She emphasized on the fact that the company cannot survive without ethics, given ethics is the very heartbeat of every organization. Her presentation revolved around the “Ethics and Compliance Program” set in place by the institution she represented, a collection of principles and procedures binding the organization’s personnel, both in carrying out their duties within the structure and in relating to clients. She equally emphasized on the importance of Commitment, Respect and Integrity, all watchwords at ENEO.

 

 

Following Mme. Leonie Ngane Epse Essama, was the Global Chief Operations Officer of Ovamba Solutions Inc., Ms. Viola Llewellyn who started by appreciating CANERPA for bringing to light an otherwise unpopular, yet very important day, the international the Day of the African Woman. She expressed her conviction that this very first initiative by CANERPA to organise such a forum sets a stage for many such events each year, to enable the women come together and gain insight that would change their lives, their families, friends, business and personal brand equity.

Mrs Llewellyn carried out her presentation focusing on “Brand Positioning Against Ethics and Gain”.  She elaborated on how our personal brand, how people experience us and our companies and how our decisions affect the circumstances of our lives and our country. One of the most resounding points in her presentation was on how the decisions made by bosses could impact the lives and families of their employees. Hence the importance of cultivating ethical values by which one stands, no matter what is happening, and building a brand, “a set of behaviours that you never change from, that people identify you by, a way of speaking and acting around other people and in situations, that you can be trusted to execute even in the face of a difficult situation”, adding that it is a very lonely thing to be ethical. Her entire presentation centred on how our business and personal relationships experience our personal and professional brand.

 

Presenting on the subject “Corruption and Ethics” was Mr. Ousmanou Kouotou, the country manager of DHL Express, using the company as his case study. Using a series of documentaries, he took the participants through a section of the Certified International Specialist (CIS) training program, an exercise undertaken by DHL Express personnel worldwide, that has to do with ethics. The various documentaries each revealed an aspect on the importance of compliance. Through the documentaries, he presented one of the challenges a company that has a vast reach, such as DHL that has over a hundred thousand employees in over 220 nations as that of differences in cultures and in laws. This demands a high level of compliance in carrying out the activities of the company, in a way that will not offend the laws of any given country. To succeed in doing this, all the employees are trained on the rules and regulations of all the countries in which DHL Express finds itself. The entire presentation emphasized on the importance of not deviating from values, personal values and especially company values since the effect could be unfortunate for the defaulter.

 

Right after the coffee break, media intervention and a Question and Answers session, the workshop continued with a presentation from Mrs. Michele Ndoki, a legal adviser, on the subject of “Ethics and Conformity”. She made a difference between ethics and conformity, referring to ethics as all that has to do with morals and our sense of right and wrong, while conformity has to do with obeying rules.

She expressed her particular interest in seeing women grow in terms of their career and encouraged the women present to consider the fact that they are women as an obstacle to making progress career-wise, given the normal stereotype is that women are meant to be in the kitchen and be mothers who are at home at all times to take care of children. She also encouraged them to enlarge their horizon in the way they perceived themselves. Being mindful of the women who may not necessarily find themselves in a white collar job, like the ordinary traders, cleaners or hairdressers, she addressed them using the words of Mahatma Ghandi, "Be the change you want see". She pointed to the fact that the women can only build proper ethics, especially in terms of career, depending on the way they perceive themselves and how far they intend to go in their career.

The last of the speakers at the forum was the founder and administrator of CANERPA, Dr. Annie Smith, who had earlier, during the Q & A session expressed her belief that one could not speak about an emerging Cameroon in 2035 without talking about ethics, without talking about the role women ought to play, hence her motivation behind the initiative. After showing her appreciation for the previous speakers, she moved to her presentation which she titled “You Can’t Buy Ethics”.

Giving her version of the difference between ethics and compliance, she explained that compliance is about doing what you are required to do by rules, while ethics is about doing what you should do because it is right. Thus, she presented ethics as greater than compliance, and the fuel of trust that will extend the longevity of our businesses. She emphasized that ethics makes us move from what is permissible to what is profitable (for the individual and for the enterprise), saying it goes beyond what rules demand.

She summarized the core of her presentation by listing and explaining what she called the six pillars of ethics (Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring  and Citizenship) and also the three components of ethics (Values, Conviction and Discipline).

Dr. Annie Smith’s presentation closed the events of the day, after she once again expressed her gratitude to all the orators of the day for sharing their insight and contributing in making the day a successful one. She was in turn applauded for achieving such great success for a very first initiative by CANERPA.

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