Governance Watch

Governance Watch - Issue 35

Governance Watch - Issue 35

Conflict of interest

It’s a recurring theme, and one that needs urgently to be addressed to resolve the many issues around better corporate governance in the United Kingdom. To even attempt to talk about ‘restoring trust in business’ without doing that appears to demonstrate deep underlying commitment to the maintenance of the status quo.

Governance Watch - Issue 34

Governance Watch - Issue 34

Carillion: The Fall Out

There’s a limit, surely, to how often you can plead an exception to the rule when assessing whether something is fit for purpose. When the ‘rule’: in this case, ‘best practice’ in the running a UK listed business adhering to highly esteemed standards of corporate governance, appears to have been ignored more than once within a few years, it’s time to re-think the components of that best practice.

Governance Watch - Issue 33

Governance Watch - Issue 33

Data and Governance

Events in the last week across the public and private sectors in the UK have made it quite clear that major issues with technological transformation and the handling of data are not being dealt with from a governance perspective. 

Governance Watch - Issue 32

Governance Watch - Issue 32

Company Accounts

The accuracy of the numbers in company reports lies at the heart of the corporate governance of any business. Institutional investors and shareholders burnt by unexpected company revelations will have welcomed the news that the UK government has just launched an independent review of the accountancy watchdog the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), to be completed by the end of the year. 

Governance Watch - Issue 31

Governance Watch - Issue 31

Gender Pay Gap

It was quite dramatic in the way it was reported in the UK media, but it came as no surprise. As the midnight deadline – set eight years after the law was tabled to compel companies across the country to reveal the extent of the difference between what men and women are paid – came and went, we learnt that women are paid a median hourly rate that is on average 9.7% less than that given to male colleagues. 

Governance Watch - Issue 30

Governance Watch - Issue 30

Audit

It is a little difficult to consider something to be a ‘radical’ idea when it was first proposed seven years ago, in the immediate shadow of the financial crisis – to no avail. A snapshot of business media headlines cast a light on some of the complexities as well as the powerful forces at work that can prevent truly radical ideas from becoming reality.

Governance Watch - Issue 29

Governance Watch - Issue 29

#IWD2018

In 2018, International Women’s Day turns a spotlight on the need for better corporate governance as never before. It is about dealing with inequality, and the gender pay gap, about ending discrimination and focusing on the lack of opportunity for women across business, about recognising double standards when it comes to progression, about remembering the importance of reputation, and more. 

Governance Watch - Issue 28

Governance Watch - Issue 28

Scrutiny

Many of the revisions and proposed revisions to the UK corporate governance code have been about closer scrutiny for accountability and to raise the bar on standards of behaviour - as have moves on regulation. 

Governance Watch - Issue 27

Governance Watch - Issue 27

Equality

This week in Britain we celebrated the centenary of women’s suffrage and (some) women getting the vote. For those of us who have been on social media for years it was also a moment to note how things have changed. Whereas Twitter used to be a useful disruptive tool for the relatively few, it is now a place full of megaphones and businesses and government departments too, who are adept at using it to roll out the marketing and the ‘thunderclaps.’ But who could be churlish about cheerleading for the suffragettes in grim grey February? 

Governance Watch - Issue 26

Governance Watch - Issue 26

#TimesUp And Reputation

Boardrooms all over the world are having to come to grips quickly with the wave of female anger that has been unleashed as women unite to tell their stories of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. The #MeToo on Twitter -  representing a ‘hands up’ by those who relayed their experience of sexual predators – was fast followed by #TimesUp after Hollywood came together in a bid to exorcise the sexual workplace ethos now associated with Harvey Weinstein

Governance Watch - Issue 25

Governance Watch - Issue 25

Audit, Advice, Governance – And Giant Squids

A warning bell rang out last week with media headlines around audit, consultancy, legal services and governance. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), the country’s securities regulator, banned global accountancy firm PwC from auditing listed companies in the country for two years after failing to spot a $1.7bn fraud at Satyam Computer Services. “The order comes nine years after the scam at Satyam Computer Services came to light and after two failed attempts by PwC to settle the case through the consent mechanism” wrote Live Mint. 

Governance Watch - Issue 24

Governance Watch - Issue 24

Watch List

As the year comes to a close, the business media headlines offer clear warning of the need to keep a close eye on the human dimensions of better corporate governance in the challenging environment around Brexit.

Governance Watch - Issue 23

Governance Watch - Issue 23

Far-reaching revisions

The UK’s corporate governance watchdog, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) on December 5th revealed its proposals for a revised Corporate Governance Code and as promised, it is “shorter and sharper.” I covered the release in my blog Board Talk with the headline UK Looks To The Future With New Corporate Governance Code.

Governance Watch - Issue 22

Governance Watch - Issue 22

Transparency

Good corporate governance requires transparency. In South Africa, the latest corporate governance code or King 1V, has put transparency at its heart. By contrast, we talk about transparency in corporate governance in the UK, but we keep coming up against walls of silence. Knocking on such a wall may well reveal that it is, in fact, a door. But it is firmly shut because the powers that be think that it’s “best.” 

Governance Watch - Issue 21

Governance Watch - Issue 21

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE: THE ESSENCE OF A BUSINESS

The demands of rapid technological transformation are casting fresh light on the urgent need for every business to be able to ‘join the dots’ into a clear line on how it functions on multiple fronts through its own corporate governance.

Governance Watch - Issue 20

Governance Watch - Issue 20

Culture

On a fundamental level, good governance is about good behaviour, and conduct contributes to culture – whether it is business culture, or what is considered acceptable in civil society. In Britain, in corporate governance circles we talk about the need to ‘tone from the top’, with the implication being that those in leadership roles set an example by their behaviour. But when the media headlines are full of revelations about sexual harassment in the corridors of political power, and the country has a female Prime Minister, it all starts to get interesting in terms of the winds of change.

Governance Watch - Issue 19

Governance Watch - Issue 19

Listing Rules

The mutterings have been getting louder since the UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority first proposed changing the premium listing rules to entice Saudi Aramco to the London market. The pretence of its consideration as a general rule change for ‘state-owned companies’ evaporated even as the announcement was made and hit the media headlines.

Governance Watch - Issue 18

Governance Watch - Issue 18

Trust

'Trust' is a word we have heard a lot of in Britain since the 2008 financial crisis. It has been commonly uttered and muttered by senior names in business, analysed and spun by corporate governance experts, corporate communications, consultancies, think-tanks and politicians. It is well-established as a subject that commands attention, inspires conferences and events, and is an essential component of the relationship between business and society.

Governance Watch - Issue 17

Governance Watch - Issue 17

Audit and Regulation

The reprieve of KPMG, cleared of misconduct by the audit watchdog the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) in relation to its work for the UK lender HBOS will not go unmarked. It is likely to take its toll in the ongoing battle for public trust in the financial services sector and in those responsible for its regulation. 

Governance Watch - Issue 16

Governance Watch - Issue 16

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

What a nasty shock for the UK’s publicly listed companies. Those they entrust to help tell (and sell) their stories to the world don’t all operate with the same moral compass, it seems. Anyone who thought it was like casually looking into a mirror and then being reflected on with added glory will be reconsidering. No, it’s potentially downright dangerous, this vast corporate expenditure on public relations, or #PR.