Our Voice in Society

Our Impact on the Common Good

 

As members of society, we are committed to making our voice heard and our impact felt on matters affecting the common good of all.
This encompasses the All of Us in the responsible leadership framework of Me, We, All of Us.

Here are a few examples of the positive impact USB has had on society:

One of Prof Nicolene Wesson’s areas of expertise is share repurchasing behaviour of listed companies. Through her research she has compiled the first comprehensive share repurchase data study in South Africa, which enabled her to test global theories on share repurchases in the South African environment.

Comprehensive share repurchase data are not readily available due to unique regulatory requirements pertaining to share repurchases in the South African regulatory environment. Thanks to her research, Prof Wesson was able to make groundbreaking information available and share her knowledge on South African share repurchase practices.

The impact of Prof Wesson’s research and her consultative work:

  • Companies provided inconsistent disclosure on share repurchase activities, because no clear guidance existed in reporting standards on how to reflect share repurchasing in annual reports. Prof Wesson has now been able to provide guidelines and principles in this regard.
  • As a result new governance rules are provided to protect shareholders and other stakeholders as well as the economy as a
    whole.
  • Shareholders and other stakeholders are stimulated to ask appropriate questions that will allow them to understand what the intention (and effect) of buying back shares are.
  • The study gave her expert status in an unknown field, providing her with personal credibility.
  • The credibility and visibility of the USB was increased through her work and the groundbreaking research she generates together with students, as well as her consulting work and her influence on policy.
  • Insights flowing from her research and consulting are featured in her lectures, providing real, relevant and practical examples for USB students.
  • Some of her students are continuing and building on her initial research, thus keeping the data up to date.

The influence/evidence of her work can be seen in:

  • More transparency in annual report disclosure: Working with the FSB and JSE, she reviewed current JSE listings requirements on the disclosure of share repurchasing activities in annual reports.
  • The public domain, where company stakeholders are now better informed and able to question share repurchase practices, based on publications in the print media and academic journals; for example, when shareholders vote, to authorize share repurchase programme at annual general shareholder meetings.
  • Requests from labour organisations to explore the relationship between share repurchases and remuneration, especially
    that of company directors.
  • Further research being conducted in this field with Masters and PhD Students.

The beneficiaries of her consulting work are:

  • Listed and non-listed companies, on disclosure practices.
  • The South African judicial system (Income Tax Act application of share repurchases), as evident from her expert advice to civilians in court cases.
  • Other academics via her publications.
  • Students.
  • Company shareholders other company stakeholders.
  • The economy as a whole.

Professor Anita Bosch is an Associate Professor at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, where she researches women at work and teaches in the human capital management and leadership tracks. She has served on the board of the South African Board for People Practices (2006 – 2009), and is a registered Master HR Practitioner.

Anita is the editor of the annual Women’s Report of the SABPP, and has published numerous public reports, articles, and book chapters on diversity and women’s issues. She was recognised in the 2016 edition of Marie Claire, in an article titled “16 women challenging SA for the better: Talking about a revolution, and is consulted on women’s issues for Women’s Health and by the Business Women’s Association of South Africa for the Women in Leadership Census, SA’s only indicator of women’s representation in positions of leadership.

Prof Bosch contributed an article to The SABPP Women’s Report 2017: Fairness in relation to women at work, titled “Rethinking women’s workplace outcomes: Structural inequality”. In her writing, she highlights the structural factors that give rise to unequal treatment of women at work and offers guidance for employers to mitigate this inequality.

The following is an excerpt from her article:

Organisational culture and climate interventions such as management support of women with family needs, as well as interventions to initiate and cement a culture of inclusion, reflect further initiatives that organisations utilise to foster change. What is evident, though, is that social norms prevail, and these norms penetrate workplace logic.

  • The manner in which workplaces structure and execute recruitment, selection, performance management, and promotion should be re-examined to exclude covert forms of bias.
  • Women should be coached on how to negotiate improved sharing of house- and childcare with their partners.
  • Women should continue to voice their concerns about fairness, and should perhaps be invited to be brave, to openly discuss their lived experiences with their managers. These discussions may lead to altered notions of work and performance.
  • Managers should understand the full life context of their employees, and be realistic about performance targets and workplace outputs. Overworking has become the norm for star performers in corporate South Africa. These performance standards should be investigated in light of inequitable gender practices, burnout, and general health concerns.

Places of work may need to be located in areas with low levels of traffic congestion, and commuting and arrangements to work from home should be carefully monitored to uncover overwork and eliminate psychological distress.

When employees are requested to relocate, equal consideration should be given to both partners’ work arrangements. Specialist support, including psychological and relationship counselling and financial planning should be provided during relocation. Financial planning should not only focus on the person taking on the new position, but also be given to the person who may take a reduction in income or who may become a stay-at-home parent.

It is very important to note that women are eager to work, they take their education as seriously as men do, and have as much aspiration as men to advance at work. Women are as talented, diligent, hardworking, and committed as men. It therefore seems strange that organisations are so stubborn to adapt in order to recognise the patterns of unequal power relations and to
acknowledge the societal impediments that women face. Once organisations take the realities of women seriously, women and men will be able to participate differently at work, bringing their full selves and talents to bear.

The extent of Dr Schoeman’s consulting involves the following:

  • Advocacy for patients with mental health disorders.
  • Establishment of corporate Mental Health Awareness days with USB in Bellville, Port Elizabeth
    and in Bloemfontein, and also directly with corporates.
  • Recommendations to corporates, policy makers, and training peers in the management of
    ADHD.
  • Information to corporates on the prevention and management of burn-out in the workplace.

The impact of both Dr Schoeman’s research and consulting work:

  • Adult ADHD is now recognised as a chronic disorder in South Africa.
  • Negotiations are underway with medical scheme funds to fund medication and therapy for adults with ADHD. This disorder affects roughly 1 million adults in South Africa.
  • Guidelines for the management of adult ADHD were developed and published (http://www.sajp.org.za/index.php/sajp/
    article/view/1060/840).
  • The South African Society of Psychiatrists Special Interest Group for ADHD was established.
  • Awareness among corporates on mental health issues (including burn-out, and ADHD, depression, substance abuse) was increased, leading many companies to think differently about what it means to build healthy organisations.
  • A non-profit organisation, the Goldilocks and the Bear Foundation (www.gb4adhd.co.za), the first programme in South Africa to provide free screening, identification and early intervention for children with ADHD and other mental health problems and learning difficulties in underprivileged area, was established.
  • Media coverage via the USB and other public media channels raised awareness of an issue that is often put under wraps, especially by corporates.
  • One of the administrators she consults to administers 37 medical schemes. They are looking for a wellness programme to roll out as a primary intervention programme in all their medical schemes.
  • Her interdisciplinary activities (psychiatry and corporate experience) and research are integrated into the classroom in the form of case studies based on real-life examples.

The influence/evidence of this work has been:

  • The guidelines Dr Schoeman established are now recognised as the industry ‘Gold Standard’, with the result that these are guiding how policy for medical aid funders is being decided.
  • The publicity that has been created through her work on ADHD guidelines in the media (print, broadcast, online) has a net worth of R1.5 million for the USB. This was derived from 29 print, 12 broadcast and 11 online features including TV interviews.
  • In the Western Cape alone, roughly 200 000 children do not have access to mental health services; through the Goldilocks and Bear Foundation 900 of these children per month are currently being screened.
  • The media coverage (72 online publications, 18 broadcasts, 12 print) reported on the work of the Foundation has achieved a wide reach, worth R2.2 million.
  • Through her lectures, students regularly request to conduct the same training in workshop style at their places of employment.
  • Due to the authority gained through the Gold Standard status, Dr Schoeman is preparing to meet with the administrators of the largest medical aid schemes which cover about 3.3 million beneficiaries, to discuss how to implement ADHD guidelines in psychiatric benefits. This clearly shows that there is increased awareness among different key players in the industry.

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Prof Arnold Smit
Head of Social Impact
Email: arnold.smit@usb.ac.za
Telephone: 021 918 4404


Esther Franszen
Programme and Project Coordinator
Email: hester.franszen@usb.ac.za
Telephone: 021 918 4483