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Celebrating the best in governance

07 November 2017

Celebrating the best in governance - Read more

This year’s ICSA Awards has been a challenging judging process

The main task for me this month has been the judging process for the awards on 28 November (tickets still available, although selling fast).

I will write more about some of my impressions of this year’s reporting in a future article, but I have been struck once again by the innovation and imagination that some companies have brought to the process, with board disclosure being the area in which we saw the greatest improvements this year.

Many congratulations to all those who were shortlisted – listed online – you made the judges’ job very difficult, which I always think is an excellent sign.

Our guidance on ‘The stakeholder voice in board decision-making’ was published on 26 September and is freely available on our website. Feedback has been positive and we believe that it is an important contribution to the governance debate. I commend it to you.

Both the Investment Association and ourselves have been talking to a number of interested groups following publication and we will be continuing this in the new year. I have a presentation available for use at branches and we are currently finalising arrangements for CPD events in the first part of 2018 – with the first taking place on 16 January – so keep an eye out for that on the website.

Combining stakeholders and reporting, I attended a session with the Financial Reporting Lab on how investors are looking for companies to report on their ‘human capital’. This was a fascinating session, although I think that the wishes of some investors may yet run ahead of what many companies will feel able or willing to say.

I have a feeling that we will be hearing more on this subject in the coming year. There is a continuous appetite from some investors for additional metrics and we must ensure that companies only have to report on those issues that are actually material for each individual company. One size does not fit all.

The policy team continues to liaise with the Financial Reporting Council around the forthcoming consultation on the future of the UK Corporate Governance Code.

We understand this will be launched in November. This will necessarily affect the daily lives of many of our members working in the corporate sector – and naturally we will be seeking feedback to help us respond to the consultation.

I can also now reveal that we have been asked to serve on a coalition being established by the FRC to develop a set of corporate governance principles for large private companies. This is in response to a request from the government following the green paper on governance reform.

We have also responded to the FRC’s consultation on strategic report guidance, to the FCA’s consultation on the creation of a new premium-listing category for sovereign-controlled companies and to the Takeover Panel consultation on statements of intention. These responses are available to read on the ICSA website.

In other events, I chaired the ICSA’s Subsidiary Governance Conference on 20 October. I found it a fascinating morning, hearing first-hand how some companies manage subsidiary governance issues.

By the time you get this magazine, our guidance on GDPR will have been published at the Data Governance Conference on 3 November and will, I hope, be of practical use to members in all sectors. Liz Bradley, our policy manager for the corporate sector, has set out some of the important information from that guidance in her article this month.

In the non-corporate world, the Code for Sports Governance continues to make an impact, but still we see on the back pages of our newspapers the need for some sports bodies to take a long, hard look at themselves and their governance structures.

We have a conference on sports governance on 24 November, and in December we will be launching the next in our series of papers on the future of governance – this time focused on sport.

Academy governance has also been in the news for the wrong reasons. We are developing guidance to improve understanding of the ‘company limited by guarantee’ model used by academies which we will publish in the new year.

Finally, I had a holiday. While exploring the ruins of roman villas in Pompeii and the surrounding area, I was struck by one particular mosaic (pictured), which appeared to be of a secretary bird about to pounce on a snake. Was this the home of a Roman chartered secretary?

As always, I would be happy to receive any feedback or suggestions as to what the policy team can do via policy@icsa.org.uk.

Peter Swabey FCIS is policy and research director at ICSA: The Governance Institute

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