Looking For A Practical Way To Enliven The Good Governance Debate
We began by talking a great deal about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Then the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 gave us an imperative to revive the debate on good corporate governance and how to define it for better business in a changing world. Now we have started talking about the role of business in society, about long-term value rather than short-term profit, about the importance of listening to stakeholders in a business, about environmental issues, about non-financial risk, about trust and reputation.
These themes suggest that such issues are interlinked, that one of the greatest dangers to a business might come from operating in silos without communication, engagement and a shared sense of direction.
After years of austerity in Britain there is a danger too that all the talk of corporate governance and the proliferation of events and publications on the subject create a sense that this is yet another business elite talking to itself, while nothing changes for the person on the street.
We could change that - by making sure that corporate governance events too, do not fall into the trap of working in silos. Those who create and participate in such events could simultaneously offer a platform to social enterprise.
Not only is social enterprise in the UK growing strongly, the leading social enterprises are growing at a phenomenal rate. They provide thousands of jobs for people who want to make a difference. That is increasingly true of the younger generation as well, those who are wrestling with the UK's decision to leave the European Union.
Prime Minister Theresa May has made corporate governance a platform, but the reality of that commitment remains to be seen. This is particularly true among those cynical about the way that senior figures have escaped being held to account for banking scandals that date back almost a decade.
Corporate governance has at last shed its 'anorak' status. Isn't it time it not only connected to other streams of thought on better business but asked the 'great and the good' to share the visibility they can generate to good effect ?
The Institute of Directors, the UK's largest membership organisation for business leaders (Twitter following 51.6K) revealed its good governance index and ranking last week. Its Chair is described on its website as the "best connected woman in Britain." Deputy Chairman Ken Olisa was for years the Chairman of Thames Reach, the homelessness charity.
When I was approached by SocialBox.biz, a practical social impact business offering technology to the homeless for digital inclusion, I had no issue in taking the time to promote the initiative briefly on Twitter @dinamedland. Then I found out that not only had they attended the IOD event, they had written to all the speakers, asking for support.
All they are asking for is 1,000 laptops by 2020, to be distributed via Thames Reach to the homeless.
We hear a lot about 'diversity' and 'inclusion' and much of the talk only benefits those who speak it. If this initiative doesn't represent true inclusion, I am not sure what the word means.
We have also heard a lot about it being '25 years after Cadbury.'
Isn't it high time to ensure that corporate governance starts to feel a bit more real for the man on the street by changing how we structure the events and the money that is spent in its name?