See What Is Right...And Be Brave. Farewell Address To Anglo American

Published 10 November 2011

On 30 November 2011 a Farewell Dinner was held by Anglo American plc in honour of Nicky Oppenheimer. The dinner in Vergelegen, Western Cape, was held to mark his retirement from the Anglo board in April 2011.

For the first time in nearly a century there is no longer any formal connection between the great mining company founded by his grandfather, Ernest Oppenheimer, in 1917 and its founding family at either management or board level. Nicky Oppenheimer used the occasion to reflect in detail on the Corporation’s role in trying to shape, improve and change the political landscape of South Africa for the better, particularly during the Apartheid era.

In his address, which is reprinted in full in this Brenthurst Discussion Paper, he explored how the past can and should provide essential signposts for Anglo’s future – if it is to continue to flourish and be admired for the exceptional company it once was, and can still be. He cautioned against the ‘box ticking’ culture that has taken hold in companies more concerned with satisfying Corporate Social Investment requirements than genuinely helping their host societies. Besides profits, companies must aim to make a real and permanent contribution to people’s well-being – the abiding business philosophy first articulated by his grandfather and still intrinsic to the family’s work.

In recounting its pivotal impact during key turning points in South Africa’s political history, Nicky Oppenheimer argues that Anglo – and similarly other major companies – must see what is right, not only for the business but for the societies in which it operates, and be brave.

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