Integrity Idol.

Casting shows have become TV channel classics. But what if they weren’t looking for the best entrepreneur, the most beautiful model or the most musical singer, but the best public administration employees?” This is exactly what “Integrity Idol” is doing. The BMW Group and the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt are supporting initiator Blair Glencorse with making his concept internationally successful. 

“I want to uphold and defend the values of our community.” Even this in itself already challenging statement is not enough for Captain Vinny Pillay. The police officer in KwaZulu-Natal, a province with a population of ten million situated on the east coast of South Africa, organises workshops for young people and supports citizens of his region however and wherever he can, both professionally and privately. “My work as a police officer is a lifelong vocation to achieve justice and protection for those we serve,” he says. So Vinny Pillay has not only become a role model for many people but, thanks to the TV show “Integrity Idol”, also a national celebrity.

“Integrity Idol” is a completely new and unusual show in every respect: Although the programme functions according to the principle of casting shows, it does not select the most capable musicians, actors or beauties. The show seeks people who excel through their integrity and exemplary achievements in public administration. The format is already being produced with great success in countries such as Nepal, Pakistan, Mali, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Nigeria and now also South Africa.  

Creator and initiator of this unique worldwide show is Blair Glencorse. The native-born Briton has worked for the World Bank, was an advisor to the current Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and is founder of the Accountability Lab. Thanks to his international experience, he is able in spite of a small budget to consistently realise sustainable and special projects for people, one of which is now “Integrity Idol”. Because of his capabilities and his engagement, Glencorse was already chosen as a winner of the “BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Awards” held five years ago.

Together with the BMW Group, the BMW Foundation has now also assisted him with the production of his show in South Africa, in which Captain Vinny Pillay was voted the rainbow nation’s first Integrity Idol last year. The support was helpful, among other things, in the search for media partners and in the organisation of the final event by the BMW Foundation Global Table, where leaders from all regions throughout the world develop possible solutions to the challenges of our time, Glencorse says. Moreover, as a result, he and his team also gained comprehensive access to networks and further sponsors. Further support was received from ReadyGo. In this young leaders programme implemented by the BMW Group, junior executives use their connections and their know-how to commit themselves to social concerns and greater ecological sustainability. “For more than a year now, decision makers have helped us sharpen the concept and develop a strategy”, Glencorse stresses. “Especially in towns and metropolitan areas where there is a high degree of anonymity, it is important to be able to rely on public administrators. They provide the glue that holds our urban society together and serve as role models.” Captain Vinny Pillay, but also the other finalists, were the finest examples of this. “They assume responsibility as nurses, firemen, doctors or teachers, thereby representing honest, incorruptible and reliable public engagement.”

But what is (almost) equally as important: The programme repeatedly gives rise to diverse discussions on loyalty and responsibility in public administration. In order to send out a clear message in this respect, the finalists are nominated “integrity ambassadors”. Glencorse and his team continue to support them in order to bring about substantial improvements in public administration. How fast this can be achieved still remains to be seen, but with the increasing success of Integrity Idol, Blair Glencorse has in any case laid a foundation stone. And he has shown how effectively exciting entertainment and work for the good of society in our cities and regions can be brought into line with each other.