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Shout to be heard

08 August 2016 by Alexandra Jones

Ensuring business resilience and responding effectively to change is a key role of the company secretary

In the past month, some significant political decisions have been made – namely Brexit and the resignations of a host of high-profile figures – which have ignited a period of uncertainty for the UK. The full extent of these decisions are, at the time of writing, yet to be realised, however, what we do know is that we are on the cusp of change.

It is important for me to reiterate that ICSA: The Governance Institute, as part of an apolitical organisation, will not be taking a stance on these matters, however, these events do spark some interesting governance debates. Our Policy and Research Director, Peter Swabey, outlines some of the notable challenges in his column, 'Focus on the governance', such as succession planning and rebuilding trust in business. Peter also highlights the recent work that our policy team has done on the nomination committee and new Market Abuse Regulation.

On the topic of uncertainty, this month, in her column 'Embed appropriate values', Bernadette Barber addresses sustainability to ensure future business resilience. She suggests that the narrow mindset of some companies may be jeopardising their futures. It is essential that companies adopt a far-sighted approach to business planning, which actively supports social and environmental initiatives so that they are derisked in the long term.

Ensuring business resilience and responding effectively to change is a key role of the company secretary. Our interview this month with David Venus, International President of ICSA, reminds us of the vital role governance professionals have in ensuring the future prosperity of organisations. In particular, he shares with us his views on what makes the company secretarial profession unique and why it is highly regarded: ‘People do discover the role by chance or later in their career ... but the mature choice many members take does explain the enthusiasm and passion we have for our profession.’

However, David notes that by nature, company secretaries tend to operate as background facilitators, but now they must shout to be heard. He explains: ‘I remember somebody once saying that we do not have to advertise because people will come to us, just because we are ICSA. Those days are completely gone, so we need to be braver.’

I could not agree more.

Alexandra Jones is Editor of Governance and Compliance

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