by Jean Lowrie-Chin - Observer column for MON 16 Feb 2015
|Graham Power (3rd from right) with (from left) Jamaica's Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn, former JMA President Omar Azan and Executive Director of the National Integrity Alliance Prof. Trevor Munroe|
Graham Power pulled no punches from his own self when he addressed a group of business leaders on Friday. The wealthy founder of the Power Group in South Africa, told us that he had been involved in practices “which I was not proud of” in the earlier days of his business. He and other top construction company owners would share information on budgets for tenders, conspiring to inflate figures, pre-planning winners, and sharing the spoils.
Power’s business prospered and he enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle, but he said he experienced “a hunger for inner peace”. At 43 years old, he made a public commitment to Christ and decided that he would no longer participate in such practices. “My life was turned upside down,” he recalls, after he attended an event held by cricketer-turned-evangelist Peter Pollock in 1999.
When he shared his decision with his fellow executives they became very worried, asking, “Will we survive?” He stood his ground, insisting that if they didn’t agree, he, the 80 percent owner, would be forced to exit the company. Not only did they survive, he related, but they became progressively more successful.
A few years later, Graham Power had “a personal encounter with God, who instructed me to hire a stadium, and hold a day of repentance and prayer.” This event was held at the stadium in Cape Town on 21 March 2001, and there was not an empty seat in the house. Since then, Graham Power has held similar meetings in 220 countries across the globe, using 2 Chronicles 7:14 as the theme: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Power appealed to us to “Make a pledge, stand firm and turn the tide.” He said that he is proud to be South African, and inspired by “our Madiba”, Nelson Mandela who after serving 27 years in prison, came out “with no hatred”. He is concerned about the plight of our human family, impoverished by corruption: “more than 50 percent of the world’s population living on less than US$2 per day.”
With this in mind, Graham Power founded the ‘Unashamedly Ethical’ movement, which was launched globally in May 2010, complete with a Constitution and an Executive Committee established to oversee the campaign. A pivotal moment in Unashamedly Ethical’s history was March 2013 “when the Western Cape Government in South Africa made their commitment to ethics, values and clean living.” By October 2014, over 5,000 companies committed to being Unashamedly Ethical, and over 100 countries/nations became Unashamedly Ethical signatories.
At the event last Friday, we were given commitment forms and invited to sign an agreement:
- To be entirely truthful in all you say.
- To be faithful to your family relationships.
- To do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but to look out for the interests of others.
- To refuse to elicit, accept or pay any bribes and to encourage others to do the same.
- To be diligent without being harsh, and striving to be just and fair.
- To be a peacemaker.
- To do your work wholeheartedly.
- To submit yourself to just and ethical governing authorities.
- To remember the poor by investing generously and sacrificially in the broader community.
- To collaborate with your peers to impact our community and nation.
Signing the document is a real commitment, making one accountable to the Unashamedly Ethical Ombudsman. In fact, says Power, several companies have been suspended due to non-compliance. This ever increasing list is a wonderful resource for those seeking contractors with solid ethics. Anyone, anywhere can sign up – simply go online to www.unashamedlyethical.com.
Graham Power’s Jamaica tour was well organised by Wycliffe Caribbean, chaired by Oral McCook, and sponsored by several top corporates. ‘Unashamedly Ethical’ is important to our struggling country, as we are rated 85th on Transparency International’s corruption scale. A commitment to ethical behaviour, with the above 10 guidelines, will ensure that the millions squandered in corrupt dealings can be used to provide more opportunities for our people. If our leaders through the past decades had been unashamedly ethical, there would have been no garrisons, no dons, no Tivoli tragedy. There is no better time than now, to make our big move to righteousness.