Investec Asset Management CEO Hendrik du Toit. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Investec Asset Management CEO Hendrik du Toit. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

INVESTEC Asset Management CEO Hendrik du Toit, the highest-paid South African financial services executive last year, has joined a group of high-profile leaders on a global commission aimed at poverty reduction.

Mr du Toit earned £4.8m in gross salary and bonuses in the year to March last year, along with £3.3m in long-term incentives, bringing his total remuneration to about R146.7m at the March 2015 exchange rate.

He will now be intimately involved in convincing businesses to tackle inequality, working with Sudanese-British telecoms billionaire Mo Ibrahim, mobile network Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, former African Development Bank head Donald Kaberuka and 18 other leaders drawn from business, labour and civil society on the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development, announced at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr du Toit, who also serves on the leadership council of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, said yesterday the commission’s members were widely known to take sustainability seriously and represented both the developed world and emerging markets

"The idea is not to limit participation, but over time to involve many other stakeholders across sectors," he said. "We are faced with both a huge challenge and a huge opportunity, and over the next 12 months we want to identify practical solutions to mobilise both business and government. Sometimes a small shift in attitude can have a big positive impact."

Paul Polman, CEO of consumer goods company Unilever, and former United Nations (UN) deputy secretary-general Mark Malloch-Brown founded the commission, aiming to convince business of the economic benefits of working towards achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The list of 18 goals includes reducing inequality; promoting sustainable economic growth and full, productive employment; and ending poverty.

Its work is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, both philanthropic organisations, and the governments of Australia, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.

It will report its findings to the WEF next year.