Conscious Companies Award winners announced

Conscious Companies, in partnership with Primeserv, announced the winners of the 2019 Conscious Companies Awards at a glittering function at The Venue in Melrose Arch in Johannesburg on Wednesday, May 22. The awards applauds visionary leaders and organisations who heed the call to create evolutionary business practices and instil a higher sense of purpose, trust, compassion, transparency and ethics aligned to productivity and profit.

The ethos of Conscious Companies — to celebrate conscious leaders who align people, planet, profit and purpose in service of all stakeholders — is innovative in that it advocates that the leadership of organisations is held responsible and accountable for their companies’ culture, ethics and performance.

BNP Paribas, a company with French roots, which has been based in South Africa for more than two decades, is the winner in the companies category. The runner-up, The Unlimited, is a Durban-based financial services company and Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator took the honours in the NGO category for implementing programmes that address youth unemployment.

The winner and runner-up were chosen from the top six conscious companies in the private/public companies that include LifeSense, MIP Holdings, Turner & Townsend and Tushiyah Advisory Services. The top four in the NGO category include Business Engage, Moving into Dance and the Winnie Mabaso Foundation.

The chairman Professor Mervyn King and his panel of judges asked themselves fundamental questions such as: why does this business exist, how can we create more value for all of our stakeholders, how can we create a workplace of meaning, productivity and joy, how can we transform and uplift society, and how can we serve?


Brenda Kali, chief executive of Conscious Companies and founder of the Conscious Leadership Academy, says: “Being a conscious company, which the finalists are, gives a breadth and depth to an organisation’s idea of itself far more than anything the bottom line can achieve for its brand and its people.”

Merrick Abel, chief executive of the Primeserv Group, says of his partnership with Conscious Companies: “As a group which continues to value and recognise the role of people committed to delivering productivity and performance in an ethical and compliant way, our partnership with Conscious Companies is both inspirational and evidence of our support for their position on purpose-driven ethical leadership and the promotion of good governance business practices for the greater good of all in South Africa and beyond.”

Vikas Khandelwal, chief executive of BNP Paribas South Africa, has made a concerted effort to act as a catalyst to benefit and impact South Africans in a multitude of deep and far-reaching initiatives, from education to sport, and beyond. The bank boasts a corporate culture where ethics and values have been underscored to change the mind-set of its human capital and create a solid value system. The bank is deeply committed to the UN Global Sustainable Development Goals evidenced through their sustainability linked funding and unique microfinancing initiatives. “Microfinance is a powerful way of making a life changing impact that benefits both the individual, the community and the national economy,” Vikas says. The objective is to promote financial independence among the poor to help stimulate and uplift businesses in the rural and under serviced areas.

The Unlimited, based in Hillcrest, Durban is the runner-up. Its chairman and founder, Iain Buchan, is a maverick entrepreneur who has walked a personal transformational journey and today he lives and walks his talk. This billion-rand authorised financial services company thinks differently. The company ethos of trust and doing the right thing is lived by its employees who have a shared sense of purpose and values that extend beyond their day-to-day activities. Says Buchan: “My vision was to build a remarkable business and create a company based on love and change the world through massive transformation and purpose to shift lives within our community.”

Maryana Iskander, chief executive of Harambee, joined the organisation in 2012, and the organisation had not looked back since. Tasked with finding solutions to the issues facing the youth market, she says: “The founding principle embodied ways of creating virtuous cycles in society and for business to understand that the hiring of young people in their first jobs is not a charitable exercise but talent. The incubation of Harambee in 2011 to build a model in partnership with government took off with five founding companies. “The objective was to scale and place 10 000 people into their first jobs. We are now at a 100 000 in terms of jobs and first opportunities. We have grown exponentially and we now have a network of 500 000 young people.”

IQbusiness, the 2018 winner of the Conscious Companies Awards, was awarded a sculpture and its chief executive, Adam Craker, won a week-long trip to India for a Conscious Leadership programme and a mind, body, spirit detox at an ashram in Bangalore.

He says of his trip: “My experience at the ashram was profound.The combination of reflection and learning in our sessions opened my mind.The guidance on how to create headspace and focus through meditation was life-changing, enabling me to advance as a conscious leader.I had always shunned the idea of meditation, blaming the incompatibility of meditation with my ADHD attributes, when actually, this probably created a more intense experience, when I finally silenced the noise in my head, simply by learning how to focus on my breath.

“There were so many highlights, memories and experiences of our time at the ashram but our private audience with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, was surreal and left a meaningful impression. I realise I still have much to learn. The journey has just begun.”

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