A string of scandals has damaged the reputation of companies across a range of sectors, and firms are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of good governance.
But what does that involve? ‘Often people think of governance only as compliance and processes. But actually governance is vibrant, it’s about the leadership of the organisation,’ says Pat Cleverly, director of strategy at employment charity Tomorrow’s People.
‘You have to operate to a high level of integrity,’ adds Howard Kerr, chief executive of standards firm BSI. ‘The reputation of BSI – and indeed any organisation – is fundamentally made or broken by whether they actually live up to the value of integrity, and they can demonstrate it. It’s easy to say but it’s difficult to do.’
The next challenge is to spread the message to all members of an organisation, which can be difficult if you’re running a big firm says Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia’s UK executive president. ‘Corporate governance isn’t just about the values, but how you cascade those values through the whole company.’
‘It’s about the tone from the top,’ adds Carol Bagnald, HSBC London’s director. ‘It’s about setting the agenda. Regardless of where we operate in the world, we have the same standards. So you could argue, that’s simplified our governance strategy.’