We’ve just celebrated our 50th issue of Governance Watch, written by Dina Medland and we’ve learnt many things from covering the news. Governance Watch started as a simple idea – to give anyone involved with boardrooms, a place to read and digest the latest articles and headlines in one place. It’s important for people who shape corporate governance to consider the wider business landscape and to stay informed with events that may affect their decisions.
There certainly was a pattern in our coverage. We started covering the news in February 2017 and we noticed that the same topics came up again and again – diversity on boards, unethical governance and executive pay were common topics. There is often a feeling that change can seem slow and at times imperceptible. People tend to look back at events and cast heroes and villains – as a way to make sense of the past. When we started Governance Watch (GW1), the pressing issues of the day was diversity, cybersecurity and ethics in business. Royal Bank of Scotland and Sports Direct were cast as the bad actors with Sports Direct being considered a “poster child” for corporate governance failings. Issues like these still make the headlines today. So, in light of these “villains” it is important to press for a high standard in corporate governance. Sports Direct or more recently Patisserie Valerie (GW 45) are just further examples of these high standards in governance not being met.
It’s easy to get lost in the negative headlines but it’s important to remember that “calling out” the bad actors can be a force for change. Yes, at times it can seem that there isn’t much evidence that Britain’s boardrooms are listening. There are good actors and bad actors, but the nature of reportage tends to highlight the negative. Our headlines were full of examples of companies like Carillion (GW26) and their accounting failures. Yet in that same issue of Governance Watch we also covered the “#metoo movement” and how boards across the country have a responsibility to end sexual abuse in the workplace. On the surface the fact that we have to have a movement like #metoo is horrible. We shouldn’t have sexual misconduct in the workplace – however, it exists – and #metoo is a clarion call for change. Hopefully with time and effort conditions will change for the better. Let’s just say, we’re watching.
So, after two years of covering corporate governance in the news, we feel bold thinking is still needed. Having boards adhere to a code of practice is a good starting place but isn’t the only answer. The pattern of highlighting excessive executive pay, lack of diversity on boards and ethics only goes to show that there are still many challenges ahead. The news is never static and you can be rest assured that if its related to the boardroom, we’ll cover it.
We want to thank you for reading Governance Watch for the past 50 issues. We hope you have enjoyed reading each issue as much as we’ve enjoyed producing it. We want to wish you all a happy and constructive 2019 and beyond.