By Axel Bührmann

ScreenHunter_354 Feb. 09 09.11Ethics is so personal for Zoaib Hoosen that his litmus test is his mother.

“If I really wanted to make a super self-assessment, I ask myself that if my mum were to find out about a decision I made, would she be proud?” the MD of Microsoft South Africa muses.

“And what about my family and my friends — those people who are my moral compass? Would I feel good or bad if they knew? What else is ethics? You’re either doing something right, or you’re doing something wrong.”

For Hoosen, any ethical discussion is not primarily about following the letter of the law: “Traditionally, when we talk about ethics, we tend to go to corporate governance and POPI – and for many it’s almost a boring topic, a necessary evil, with all the wrong connotations,” he explains. “But in any conversation about ethics, the legal part is secondary. Ethics is about behaviour and values, and when you distil the conversation into a focus on how an ethical company behaves, it takes you on a completely different path.”

The ICT industry’s focus on ethics is far more intense today than two or three years ago, driven by the commoditisation and consumerisation of technology.

“It all boils down to one thing: trust,” he explains.

“Technology is changing, but for it to be successful, the levels of trust required in our industry today are significantly greater than ever before. Consider all of those personal things happening in our day-to-day lives – for example, if I asked for your personal details like your ID number, would you hand it over if you don’t trust me?”

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