“It sounds wonderful,” he was quoted as saying. “If you want to be the best soccer team in the world it is important to wash your hands after using the bathroom.
"But will you win? Not unless you train the hardest, recruit the best and are merciless in your ambition.
Yet as the chairperson and former CEO of South Africa's largest company, he still felt comfortable saying that corporate governance is no more important to a business than washing your hands is to a football team.
That Bekker would make such comments can only indicate that there is a culture in South African business that goes way beyond just him, that supports this view. Corporate governance, as far as many management teams and boards are concerned, is something that you worry about after you've done everything else.
Simply stating the mandates of board committees and when they met tells us very little. What stakeholders should want to know is what the main deliberations were.
What has been top of mind? What are the important decisions that were made? What was the thought process? What are the risks that had to be confronted?
Documenting these things must make those involved reflect on what they are doing and how they are doing it. Can they be proud of the approach they have taken, and are they comfortable being transparent about the decisions that have been made?
If not, that should make them reconsider why and how those decisions were reached.
The integrated report is the one thing that, if done properly, can create a vehicle for people to start asking the right questions in this regard. How is this board creating value, and perhaps even more importantly, how is it preventing value from being destroyed?
Learning to ask these questions at the right time could perhaps stave off the next Steinhoff or the next African Bank. A crucial starting point is for board members and company directors to take steps to familiarise themselves with how to prepare and how to use this critical tool more effectively.
Mark Graham is a professor at the University of Cape Town and convenes the Understanding Integrated Reports Executive Short course at the UCT Graduate School of Business. This course runs on June 4 in Cape Town.