As South Africa heads towards a year in COVID-19 lockdown the biggest risk now facing the country is a lack of visionary and ethical leadership. That’s the top line from the highly anticipated 2021 Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA)Risk Report. The survey examines key risks facing the country and is a vital planning blueprint for both the public and the private sector as South Africa faces another year of contracted economic growth and accelerating unemployment numbers.
IRMSA’s Chief Risk Advisor Christopher Palm says: “Any organisation which has a clear grasp of its own internal risks and those facing the country is in a far better position to manage itself through a crisis. This report, the result of extensive consultation among key business and government players, makes for salutary but necessary reading and provides an honest assessment of where the country is regarding our big risk issues and challenges.” The report compiled during the unprecedented pandemic year is a stark reminder of how important clear and decisive leaderships is.
Notes Palm, “While there are many risks facing this country, including growing inequality, a bruised economy, the ongoing scourge of fraud and corruption, unemployment and a health system that is over-stretched, all are tied together by the importance of strong leadership. And by that our respondents mean, people who are dedicated, tireless, focussed, and incorruptible. The pandemic has in some respects brought out the best in many leaders, but we continue to face significant challenges and while there are no quick fixes, more attention needs to be paid to good governance, clear guidance, ethical management and paramount is addressing systemic fraud and corruption.”
The 2021 IRMSA Risk Report also highlights an increase in geo-political and socio-economic risks and the increasingly difficult challenge in finding the most effective risk responses to deal with a low growth environment and the ongoing need to address inequality.
The report says there is growing evidence of real change in the corporate and social fabric, with the world moving from shareholder primacy, towards more stakeholder led inclusivity driven in part by the democratisation of social networks and increased stakeholder advocacy. But the report also notes the current pandemic crisis has also served to deepen levels of inequality and the digital divide, with many households merely focussing on survival.
On a positive note, the past year has significantly increased the momentum of disruptive technologies and organisations have recognised that the future is fully digital. Palm says, “There has been a marked increase in the use of digital sales channels and services, as well as innovations in the areas of education, but the level of market penetration and access to the internet still present obvious risks and challenges.
The 2021 IRMSA Risk Report also highlights the importance of risk management and how the role of the Chief Risk Officer has been reinforced over the past year with many organisations recognising the need for more real time risk intelligence and the need to embed risk management activities into business and decision making.
You can access the 2021 IRMSA Risk Report here: https://irmsa-risk- report.web.app/riskreport2021/