UK: UK Government Salutes ICSA's Good Work
Last Updated: 6 October 2017

Our guidance is part of the government's reforms, says Peter Swabey.

On 29 August, the government published its response to the feedback it received on the green paper on corporate governance.

We have been working hard over the summer on the issues that the green paper raised and have been discussing them with officials at both the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Financial Reporting Council.

I was delighted to see this work recognised in the government response, with one of their twelve actions being to ask ICSA and the Investment Association 'to complete their joint guidance on practical ways in which companies can engage with their employees and other stakeholders'.

By the time that you read this article, the guidance will have been published – on 26 September – and will be available on our website. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chris Hodge, our policy advisor, who has led this work for ICSA, and the team at the Investment Association who have, between them, brought this work to fruition.

This guidance represents the first of the government's twelve reform package actions to be delivered and we look forward to working with them and with the FRC as the other actions develop. I will not go into detail about the guidance here, as there is a great article from Chris that tells you all about it.

What I will add is that although this guidance has been drafted using a corporate vocabulary – boards, companies, directors, shareholders and so on – that is because it forms part of the response of ICSA and the Investment Association to the green paper, and includes specific reference to the statutory duties of directors under section 172 of the Companies Act 2006.

However, many of the principles are applicable for the governing bodies of all types of organisations and if the guidance helps them to think about how they understand and weigh up the interests of their key stakeholders when taking strategic decisions, it will have fulfilled a valuable purpose.

We will have a presentation available on the guidance shortly and will be able to take that, or the one on Andrew Kakabadse's research on conflict and tension in the boardroom, out to branch meetings if requested.

"It is really encouraging to see, and to recognise, those companies that think about how they can make their annual reports more meaningful"

In my last column, I mentioned our forthcoming data governance conference – 'the risks and opportunities of GDPR' – on 3 November. This time, I would like to draw your attention to the subsidiary governance conference on 20 October – another core topic for or profession and an event to which I am very much looking forward.

We also have academy and sports governance conferences, and a charity leadership workshop on 6 October, 24 November and 8 December respectively.

My next major focus will be the ICSA Awards – the shortlists are currently in preparation and tables are selling well, but there is always room for more and it is a great evening.

I am looking forward to the judging process for company reports; we often read about the use of boilerplate, but it is really encouraging to see, and to recognise, those companies that think about how they can make their annual reports more meaningful and the innovative ways in which they do so.

Soon we will all know the result of the Institute's annual general meeting and the fate of the resolutions on constitutional change. I have now finished my share of the member briefings and it has been a pleasure meeting so many engaged members, whether or not they agreed with the Council proposals.

It was an opportunity to re-engage with old friends – I had a letter from my first boss, from more than 30 years ago and an inspiration to me throughout my career, which was lovely to receive – and to meet new ones.

I have been impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment so many of our younger members have brought to our conversations; many of them not even born when I was in that first job. They are the future of ICSA and, from what I have seen, it is in good hands.

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