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Editors Notes 2017/18

Bernie Van Niekerk, CEO & Editor

It's legal. But does that mean it's ethical?

In this 2017 issue of the Smart Procurement Review, we explore ethical leadership in the context of the value contributions that procurement makes to the organisation.

I was recently told a story about a new CEO of a well-known South African financial services organisation who was presented with a conundrum: the firm could legally reduce its liability to pay out to pensioners from a fund it was managing on their behalf.

Numerous shareholders (and board members) felt that the company should book the profit.

The new CEO felt differently in that "although the law is in our favour, the more important question is: what is the RIGHT thing to do?"

In the end, under pressure, the new CEO offered to resign rather than be part of a decision where the law overruled ethics.

The company decided that it wasn't worth the loss of their newly appointed CEO, and for once the RIGHT decision was made.

As a spin-off, the company's reputation in the market was greatly enhanced, even though the short-term bottom line results were less desirable.

Procurement professionals regularly walk a tightrope between being ethical and succumbing to the pressure of the organisation.

As procurement professionals, we need to:

  • Know what constitutes unethical conduct so that we don't become ensnared unwittingly
  • Understand the legal implication of decisions that we make on behalf of the organisation
  • Be supported by our organisations or by external sources to make the right decisions without having to risk life and limb

On point 3, what about the creation and funding of an external legal resource to protect procurement professionals when we need to be defended for standing up for doing the right thing. If you have any thoughts on this, please e-mail me at

Apart from this publication dealing with issues regarding ethical leadership in the procurement context, it is jam-packed with useful information, including:

  • As a new CPO, how to make the most of your first 100 days
  • Creating more time for your team to add value to the organisation
  • Recent procurement-related case law judgements
  • Procurement's contribution to socio-economic upliftment

Finally, I'd like to extend a sincere word of thanks to our editorial board members, The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply for their incredible support, our esteemed contributors, our sponsors and excellent production team.

To your continued success!


Editor in Chief: Bernie van Niekerk

Managing Editor: Debbie Tagg

Sub Editor: Davy Ivins and Liam Morrison

Journalist: Elaine Porteous


Bernie van Niekerk

Professor Douglas Boateng

Ronald Mlalazi FCIPS

Dr Ernst van Biljon

Advocate Helen Venter



Manager: Davy Ivins

Traffic: Anna-Marie West

Design Firm: Vision IMC (

Designer: Sean Kreusch

Printing: CTP Printers, Cape Town