Upcoming Events

Jun
25
Tue
2019
9:00 am How to become a Non-Executive Di... @ Cornwall Buildings
How to become a Non-Executive Di... @ Cornwall Buildings
Jun 25 @ 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
How to become a Non-Executive Director – Birmingham 25 June 2019 @ Cornwall Buildings
Find out how you can obtain a Non-Executive Director position by booking a place on this interactive 1-day course.   <img data-attachment-id='2823' data-permalink='https://nedworks.net/become-non-executive-director-manchester-24-september-2014/ned1/' data-orig-file='https://i2.wp.com/nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NED1-e1403709592905.png?fit=600%2C300&ssl=1' data-orig-size='600,300' data-comments-opened='0' data-image-meta='{'aperture':'0','credit':'','camera':'','caption':'','created_timestamp':'0','copyright':'','focal_length':'0','iso':'0','shutter_speed':'0','title':''}' data-image-title='NED1' data-image-description=' ‘ data-medium-file=’https://i2.wp.com/nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NED1-e1403709592905.png?fit=300%2C149&ssl=1′ data-large-file=’https://i2.wp.com/nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NED1-e1403709592905.png?fit=695%2C347&ssl=1′ class=’alignright size-medium wp-image-2823′[...]
Jul
16
Tue
2019
9:00 am How to become a Non-Executive Di... @ 111 Piccadilly
How to become a Non-Executive Di... @ 111 Piccadilly
Jul 16 @ 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
How to become a Non-Executive Director – Manchester 16 July 2019 @ 111 Piccadilly
Find out how you can obtain a Non-Executive Director position by booking a place on this interactive 1-day course. <img data-attachment-id='2823' data-permalink='https://nedworks.net/become-non-executive-director-manchester-24-september-2014/ned1/' data-orig-file='https://i2.wp.com/nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NED1-e1403709592905.png?fit=600%2C300&ssl=1' data-orig-size='600,300' data-comments-opened='0' data-image-meta='{'aperture':'0','credit':'','camera':'','caption':'','created_timestamp':'0','copyright':'','focal_length':'0','iso':'0','shutter_speed':'0','title':''}' data-image-title='NED1' data-image-description=' ‘ data-medium-file=’https://i2.wp.com/nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NED1-e1403709592905.png?fit=300%2C149&ssl=1′ data-large-file=’https://i2.wp.com/nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NED1-e1403709592905.png?fit=695%2C347&ssl=1′ class=’alignright size-medium wp-image-2823′ src=’https://i0.wp.com/www.nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NED1-e1403709558124-300×149.png?resize=300%2C149&ssl=1′[...]
Sep
10
Tue
2019
9:00 am How to become a Non-Executive Di... @ The Waterfront
How to become a Non-Executive Di... @ The Waterfront
Sep 10 @ 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Are you thinking of becoming a Non-Executive Director as part of a Portfolio Career or to develop your boardroom skills prior to taking up an executive director role? <img data-attachment-id='211' data-permalink='https://nedworks.net/how-to-become-a-non-executive-director-bristol-21-january-2013/boardroomlr/' data-orig-file='https://i1.wp.com/nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/boardroomlr-e1403708151819.png?fit=600%2C486&ssl=1' data-orig-size='600,486' data-comments-opened='0' data-image-meta='{'aperture':'0','credit':'','camera':'','caption':'','created_timestamp':'0','copyright':'','focal_length':'0','iso':'0','shutter_speed':'0','title':''}'[...]
Oct
8
Tue
2019
9:00 am The Effective Non-Executive Dire... @ Institute of Directors
The Effective Non-Executive Dire... @ Institute of Directors
Oct 8 @ 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
The effective Non-Executive Director course helps you to be an effective non-executive director. It instils a real sense of what is expected of NEDs, and how you can meet the challenge. <img data-attachment-id='113603' data-permalink='https://nedworks.net/10-things-non-executive-directors-can-do-to-satisfy-their-legal-responsibilities/ned3-2/' data-orig-file='https://i1.wp.com/nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/NED31.png?fit=1500%2C883&ssl=1' data-orig-size='1500,883' data-comments-opened='0'[...]
Oct
22
Tue
2019
9:00 am How to become a Non-Executive Di... @ Institute of Directors
How to become a Non-Executive Di... @ Institute of Directors
Oct 22 @ 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
How to become a Non-Executive Director – London 22 October 2019 @ Institute of Directors
Find out how you can obtain a Non-Executive Director position by booking a place on this interactive 1-day course. <img data-attachment-id='113603' data-permalink='https://nedworks.net/10-things-non-executive-directors-can-do-to-satisfy-their-legal-responsibilities/ned3-2/' data-orig-file='https://i1.wp.com/nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/NED31.png?fit=1500%2C883&ssl=1' data-orig-size='1500,883' data-comments-opened='0' data-image-meta='{'aperture':'0','credit':'','camera':'','caption':'','created_timestamp':'0','copyright':'','focal_length':'0','iso':'0','shutter_speed':'0','title':'','orientation':'0'}' data-image-title='NED3' data-image-description=' ‘ data-medium-file=’https://i1.wp.com/nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/NED31.png?fit=300%2C177&ssl=1′ data-large-file=’https://i1.wp.com/nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/NED31.png?fit=695%2C409&ssl=1′ class=’alignright size-medium wp-image-113603′ src=’https://i0.wp.com/www.nedworks.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/NED31-300×177.png?resize=300%2C177&ssl=1′[...]

Shaping the boards of the future

future boards, future boardroom

There have been enormous changes in the way organisations and individuals work over the past 20 to 30 years, but the structure of boards has not changed at anything like the pace of the organisations they lead. Fundamental questions need to be asked about whether the traditional board is capable of meeting the expectations placed on it and if this is the most efficient way of working if we are to have boards that are fit for the future.

We have seen an increase in the expectations placed on boards. The law, and the public, expect them to take direct responsibility for an ever growing list of issues. In parallel, the responsibilities placed on individual directors—for example, in the financial services sector—has increased as well.

The range of stakeholders that boards are expected to be accountable to has also expanded, putting greater focus on the board’s duties to employees, customers, suppliers and society at large.

Time pressure on directors has grown exponentially, but little consideration has been given to whether it is realistic or necessary for boards to be on top of everything that happens within their organisations

The volume of information that directors are expected to deal with has proliferated. As research by Board Intelligence and ICSA: The Governance Institute carried out in January 2019 has shown, board papers have increased in size to such an extent that the average board pack for an organisation with a turnover of more than £500 million is now over 300 pages, compared with 250 pages in 2017. Great swathes of information are going unread as directors are confronted with more information than they can reasonably digest.

Time pressure on directors has grown exponentially, but little consideration has been given to whether it is realistic or necessary for boards to be on top of everything that happens within their organisations. This begs the question, do core board functions—such as setting purpose, corporate culture, risk appetite and strategy, approving major financial and other decisions, oversight of performance, governance and compliance, as well as “contributing to wider society”—need to be carried out by a single body? If not, what might work better?

Some people argue that reversing the upward trend and reassigning responsibilities within the organisation would allow future boards to focus on their core functions. Others argue that the board is simply not the right place for certain responsibilities to rest as it is too far from the front line. Some go further and argue that not only should authority be devolved down the organisation but outside it as well, with more direct stakeholder involvement in decision-making.

The evolution of work

With the future world of work and business set to be a very different place from the world we know today, it seems pertinent to question if a division of the board’s strategic, operational and governance functions between different bodies might bring any benefits—and if so, what safeguards might be needed to ensure a consistency of approach.

Technological advancements have led to the creation of entirely new operating models. Changes in working practices have resulted in the rise of the gig economy and flexible working practices, such as remote working. The future nature of work and organisations is of particular pertinence to boards, with artificial intelligence and blockchain set to have as much impact on the world of work as mobile communications and the internet have had in the past 30 years.

With every evolution, new risks occur of which boards need to be cognisant. Outsourcing, for example, while bringing benefits it terms of costs and efficiency, has made organisations reliant on third parties for their performance and reputation and reduced the board’s oversight of those activities.

With every evolution, new risks occur of which boards need to be cognisant

The demands being placed on boards are increasing at the same time as their ability to meet those demands is diminishing. While regulators, stakeholders and the public have increased expectations about what boards should be responsible for, many boards have less visibility of parts of the organisation over which they preside and less control over some of the reputational and other risks that they face. So is it still reasonable to expect the job to be done properly, and on a part-time basis?

Many of the most successful businesses of recent years are those that have developed entirely new business models, using technology to transform the way in which they work rather than simply automating their existing processes. When it comes to the role and functioning of the board though, we are still at the “automating existing processes” stage.

Radical thinking

Questions need to be asked as to whether board structures and responsibilities are out of step with the world in which they operate; whether there is a need for more radical thinking about what boards do; and what future boards should look like to enable them to be effective in the new reality. Four overlapping considerations must be borne in mind:

  • Capacity—how much time does the board need to carry out its responsibilities, and how can use it most effectively? If the board does not have sufficient time to do all the work that is expected of it, is the answer to increase the time commitment or reduce the workload?
  • Capability—what skills and information does the board need, and where does it get them from? Do you need all the relevant expertise and perspectives around the board table or can they be obtained more efficiently in a different way?
  • Control—what visibility does the board have over the organisation it leads, and what levers can it pull to influence behaviour and performance? Are they sufficient?
  • Closeness to the issue concerned—is the view from the top necessarily the best view? Is the boardroom the best place in the organisation to deal with all the issues currently on the board’s agenda?

Chris Hodge is policy advisor at ICSA: The Governance Institute, and will be part of a panel discussion about The Future Board at ICSA’s Annual Conference on 10 July.

The post Shaping the boards of the future appeared first on Board Agenda.

[…]

Plymouth CAST – Non-Executive Director

Non-Executive Director – Plymouth CAST Business / Organisation Name: Plymouth CAST Business / Organisation Sector: Public Business / Organisation Website: http://www.plymouthcast.org.uk Business / Organisation Type: School, College or University Role Title: Non-Executive Director Remuneration: Expenses only Role Description Non-Executive Director with Finance Background needed to support a Multi Academy Trust Board. We are looking for […]

The post Plymouth CAST – Non-Executive Director appeared first on NEDworks.

[…]

City of Bristol College – Governor

Governor – City of Bristol College Business / Organisation Name: City of Bristol College Business / Organisation Sector: Public Business / Organisation Website: http://cityofbristol.ac.uk Business / Organisation Type: School, College or University Role Title: Governor Remuneration: Expenses only Role Description Are you interested in Further and Higher Education and Training? At City of Bristol College […]

The post City of Bristol College – Governor appeared first on NEDworks.

[…]

CEO turnover falls as firms seek ‘continuity and consistency’

CEO, CEO turnover, exit, door

It’s official. FTSE 100 chief executives are finding their way to the exit less often than they used to.

A survey from recruitment agency Robert Half reveals that the annual attrition rate has fallen for the first time in three years, while time in office is growing. This comes despite commentators describing leadership movement toward the end of last year as CEOs “falling like skittles”.

So has the quality of CEOs improved? The answer to their increasing longevity in post is probably more to do with the times we live in.

Research from Robert Half says that during the past year CEO turnover has dropped to one in ten, a reduction on the previous year’s 14%. Average tenure has therefore risen to five years and six months, four months longer than in 2018.

The figures also show that 70% of the new CEOs appointed came through internal promotions. This means the number of internally recruited leaders in the FTSE 100 has risen from 40% to 46%.

Whole-career service is also increasingly valued. The number of CEOs who have spent their entire working lives with a company has risen to 15%, up from just 7% in 2015.

Long-term sustainability

Charlie Grubb, Robert Half’s UK managing director of executive recruitment, says the figures represent an “inflection point”.

He points to a number of explanations for the changing nature of CEO tenure. Opinion on boards is swinging in favour of hopefuls with a long track record at their companies. An improved focus on succession planning reinforces the idea that internal candidates are what the board is looking for.

“In times of changes, continuity and consistency can be vital, and it is importance for companies, stakeholders and shareholders to give CEOs the freedom to take a longer-term view of company strategy and results without fearing for their jobs”

—Charlie Grubb, Robert Half

Grubb says: “While workplaces are undoubtedly going through a period of substantial change and demanding new skill sets, it is encouraging that this isn’t resulting in knee-jerk changes of leadership.

“In times of changes, continuity and consistency can be vital, and it is importance for companies, stakeholders and shareholders to give CEOs the freedom to take a longer-term view of company strategy and results without fearing for their jobs.”

That echoes others recent trends where governance authorities have asked companies to think much more about long-term sustainability of their companies. The UK governance code now says explicitly: “A successful company is led by an effective and entrepreneurial board whose role is to promote the long-term sustainable success of the company, generating value for shareholders and contributing to wider society.” While a high rate of CEO turnover is not necessarily incompatible with “long-term’ success, it would certainly make it harder.

Investors, too, agree that boards should be focused on long-term thinking. When Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, wrote to CEOs at the beginning of this year he said his firm’s engagement with boards would be all about understanding “strategy for achieving long-term growth”.

UK/US divide

That said, some see the CEO recruitment market differently. One reason CEOs may be around longer is that the recruitment process is simply much more rigorous, according to Sabine Dembkowski, managing partner with executive development specialists Better Boards. “Its far more complex to jump from a long list to a short list and be selected,” she says.

But then there is the problem of politics, in the UK and abroad. Dembkowski adds: “Because there is such risk around Brexit and other geopolitical concerns, the last thing organisations want to do is add another risk such as change the CEO.”

Intriguingly, the changing times cited by Grubb seem to have prompted the opposite reaction elsewhere. A US recruiter, Challenger, Gary & Christmas, reported CEO turnover there was up 22% in the first quarter of 2019 compared with the first three months of the previous year.

“There is such risk around Brexit and other geopolitical concerns, the last thing organisations want to do is add another risk such as change the CEO”

—Sabine Dembkowski, Better Boards

With concerns that the US might hit the economic doldrums there was some speculation that the CEO merry go-round was a response to prepare for hard times. Changing consumer behaviour and new tech disrupting old industries were also cited as reasons for bringing in new leaders.

Strategy&, a consultancy, reported that for 2018 as a whole, US CEO turnover reached a record high of 17.5%. However, their report found that more CEOs than ever had been dismissed for ethical lapses reflecting more aggressive intervention from regulators and growing public pressure for accountability prompted by the #MeToo movement. This has produced a growing sensitivity in boardrooms toward misconduct. The increased presence of activist investors could also be a factor.

Elsewhere, academic research has suggested that CEO turnover is related to the time left on a contract: turnover rises the closer CEOs are to the end of contracts, especially if there are sensitive about performance.

Robert Half’s figures identify an interesting development, though it is difficult to know whether this is blip or part of a trend. Either way, boards would do well to keep a close watch.

The post CEO turnover falls as firms seek ‘continuity and consistency’ appeared first on Board Agenda.

[…]

Guidance: Debt Relief Orders: Guidance for creditors

What it means for you if someone who owes you money gets a Debt Relief Order. […]

Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – Chair of the Royal Armouries

Chair of the Royal Armouries – Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Recruiter: The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Location: Nationwide Salary: Unremunerated Posted: 10 Jun 2019 Closes: 19 Jun 2019 Job Function: Chair Industry: Public The Royal Armouries is Britain’s national museum of arms and armour, and one of the most […]

The post Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – Chair of the Royal Armouries appeared first on NEDworks.

[…]

Non-Executive Director – Monarch Solicitors

Non-Executive Director – Monarch Solicitors Location: Manchester Date Posted: 10/06/2019 Closing Date: 01/07/2019 Would you like to be part of a hugely exciting organisation and help to drive its strategic agenda? Monarch Solicitors have a fantastic opportunity in Manchester city centre for a Non-Executive Director with a legal background to their Board. The position of […]

The post Non-Executive Director – Monarch Solicitors appeared first on NEDworks.

[…]

Revised EU Shareholder Rights Directive puts engagement in the spotlight

EU flag, European Union, EU, shareholder rights directive

This is a big week for governance, asset managers and pension fund trustees, with the EU’s revised Shareholder Rights Directive coming into force and ramping up pressure on investment managers to improve engagement and encourage better corporate governance.

The revamped directive came about because of concerns about two things: short-termism, and the volume and quality of engagement by investment managers. The reasoning is that if the people who buy and sell shares can be encouraged to get in the face of company directors more often then governance would benefit. Businesses would, as a result, pay more attention to their impact on society and the environment.

Work on the revised directive started back in 2014 when the European Commission undertook an impact assessment looking at the original legislation and its affect on corporate governance. This came in the wake of the financial crisis, and the findings did not instil confidence.

The new rules give asset managers a lot of new work to do. In truth, many of the high-profile operators having been getting to grips with the requirements for some time, given the details were available from an early stage.

Many asset managers have made much of their intensified efforts to engage boards on key issues such as fossil fuels and boardroom diversity. Indeed, some seem to see as a way of differentiating themselves. But not all fund managers have reacted the same way, and there are those in the industry who worry about the lack of enthusiasm for these topics in some quarters.

Increased transparency

The revised directive aims to achieve its governance objectives through increased transparency. Investment managers must now publicly disclose their policies on shareholder engagement. This includes revealing how it is integrated into their investment strategy, and how the policy relates to environment and society. Investment firms, in short, have got to be clear on the good they’re doing.

The Financial Conduct Authority revealed new rules at the end of May, though it has given asset managers a little leeway to get their houses in order. Even so, asset managers should have disclosed their policies by yesterday, 10 June.

Investment managers must now publicly disclose their policies on shareholder engagement. This includes revealing how it is integrated into their investment strategy, and how the policy relates to environment and society

This is not the only pressure on investors. The Financial Reporting Council recently published a new Stewardship Code which shifts attention elsewhere: reporting the outcome of engagement. That means asset managers should be keeping a tally of whether their engagement efforts are working—or not. This is important. A review of stewardship by Sir John Kingman described it as “not effective in practice” and in need of a “fundmental shift” to focus on results.

Pension scheme trustees cannot escape their own responsibilities. New government regulation introduced in October last year asked them to publish their own policies on ESG topics.

This should all add up to a sea change in thinking with mounting pressure to improve governance. However, last week we heard warnings from work and pensions minister Guy Opperman. Lauding efforts so far, Opperman said pension schemes and asset managers had “tilted” their portfolios away from fossil fuels and toward renewables; more engagement is taking place. But he also said others are “hoping this might go away”. He cautioned they need to understand they are “simply wrong”. Opperman also noted that most pension fund managers do not have published policies to combat climate change or promote gender or ethnic diversity.

That’s disappointing. Despite all the talk and publicity for these issues some in the investment chain remain either intransigent or ignorant of the need to change. If corporate governance is to work effectively investors need to be behind it. Let’s hope the revised Shareholder Rights Directive and all the other pressure helps them up their game.

The post Revised EU Shareholder Rights Directive puts engagement in the spotlight appeared first on Board Agenda.

[…]

Broadening board diversity is good corporate governance

diversity, board composition

Good governance lies at the heart of sustainable businesses. It is vital that directors, executive and non-executive alike, work to ensure their board delivers for all stakeholders, including shareholders, lenders, employees, suppliers and communities. Directors’ focus must be on the good of the company, not the interests of the appointing shareholder, allowing multiple stakeholders to be considered.

Responsible investors must focus on all aspects of governance in investment decision-making. Good governance means being aware of the genuine commercial as well as reputational benefits that properly diverse boards bring to a business or organisation.

The topic of board diversity has been rising up the agenda for many years now. Indeed, it is so well established as a governance issue that PwC’s most recent Annual Corporate Directors Survey found that a massive 95% of directors agreed that diversity brings unique perspectives to the boardroom. Moreover, 84% said it also enhances board performance. These high scores show how well diversity on boards has been accepted as a concept.

So far so good in theory. But unfortunately, in practice, despite the advantages of diverse boards and corporate cultures, actually producing genuinely diverse boards remains an ongoing challenge for organisations of all sizes, especially ones in private ownership.

One look at some recent statistics of larger public companies, which are normally in the vanguard of best corporate governance, shows the scale of the challenge. In the US, according to the Equilar Index, only 17.7% of Russell 3000 board seats are held by women, and only 15% of board seats at the top 200 companies in the S&P 500 are held by racial minorities.

Actually producing genuinely diverse boards remains an ongoing challenge for organisations of all sizes, especially ones in private ownership

With many boards slow to diversify, some legislators have begun to act. In the state of California last year law makers mandated that every publicly traded company headquartered in the state must have at least one woman on its board by the end of 2019, and companies with at least five directors will be required to have two or three women, depending on the board’s size, by 2021.

Norway, Iceland, Spain and France all require boards to be 40% female. But without the compunction of legislation, what are best ways to broaden board membership?

A road map for change

First, it’s important to stress that when we are investing in a business that has its own, well-established board, it’s important to recognise its strengths. While some of the directors might not be quite as socially progressive as others, many have invaluable knowledge about the history of their business, its customers and products and the sector in which it operates. It is absolutely essential that this value is not lost while the board evolves its membership. A board should therefore establish a clear road map for evolutionary change over a defined period.

Second, firms should be looking to train from within their own ranks candidates that one day might be board directors. This can be an excellent opportunity to ensure that women and diverse ethnic and skill set candidates are trained and actively mentored, so they too have every opportunity to attain a board seat.

In addition, there should also be active training of existing board directors, and under the role of the chairperson, annual assessments of individual director performance. There are many external organisations that can help prepare directors for their roles and improve their performance once on a board. Training and annual reviews are both good opportunities to look at the issue of diversity and reflect on its benefits.

It is absolutely essential that [existing] value is not lost while the board evolves its membership. A board should therefore establish a clear road map for evolutionary change over a defined period

There are many networks that specialise in non-executive director recruitment. In Africa, we are lucky to be working closely with a not-for-profit organisation called The Boardroom Africa. It promotes talented women to boards across the African continent with the aim of improving gender diversity and actively recruiting women to company boards. Through its contacts and membership, it also connects peer-endorsed, board-ready women with CEOs and board executives to serve on their boards and investment committees.

There are equivalents to The Boardroom Africa both in and outside of Africa, including the SIRDAR Group, whose aim is to “guide boards of directors to reach new heights”. But it’s also useful to speak to other advisers, such as recruiters and management consultants, about board diversification. Many larger practices often run their own NED networks and can help find suitable board candidates.

International business schools such as Insead also have networks of alumni for board positions. Again, these are worth exploring, as is actively networking at events and using personal contacts for recommendations. But be aware that there are limitations to networking. People working in specific industries can move in small circles, and these might not offer the sorts of candidates your board needs to make it more diverse.

Lastly, I think it is worth noting that board diversity cannot be solved only through the Independent Non-Executive Director role. I return to my opening remarks about good governance adding value for all stakeholders and ensuring your business is not simply ticking “diversity boxes” to be compliant. The business must be acting for its own long-term, sustainable future where there are real and measurable benefits from diverse board membership.

Dean Alborough is head of ESG at Old Mutual Alternative Investments.

The post Broadening board diversity is good corporate governance appeared first on Board Agenda.

[…]

NGO governance: finding solutions to future challenges

NGOs, NGO governance, global

Recent scandals have placed national and international NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and NGO governance in the uncomfortable glare of press scrutiny. Whether it is over misuse of funds, inappropriate behaviour or high-pressure tactics, trust in NGOs has been undermined.

Public outcry has placed a focus on reforming NGO governance. This has tended to concentrate on topics such as accountability and transparency. But there are more strategic challenges to NGO governance, particularly international NGOs (INGOs) as they become ever more complex organisations attempting to deliver increasingly critical services, operating in multiple locations around the world during highly challenging events.

NGOs are not, however, without solutions. A recent brainstorming event—billed as the first ‘INGO Governance Hackathon’, devised by London-based governance advisory Nestor Advisors—brought together some of the sector’s brightest minds to explore how to address the governance challenges of the future.

The event, which was supported by Board Agenda, uncovered key insights and some potential solutions. The options that emerged provide a starting point for further discussion on how the sector might develop governance thinking to put itself in the best shape to adapt to changing circumstances, but also restore trust.

The idea that trust has been undermined is now well established. When the Charity Commission undertook research last year it found that trust has been steady since 2016, but has fallen since 2014. The commission found a long-term increase in the number of people who report falling trust in charities, from 18% in 2014 to 45% last year. People reported that they suspected charities have fallen short of “good financial stewardship”, failed to “live their values” and of not having a “demonstrable impact”. “For the public,” the report said, “recent news stories have shown charities exemplifying the opposite of the characteristics they want charities to display.”

Governance, however, underpins NGO operations. When Nestor polled participants ahead of the hackathon they found four key issues in need of attention: network governance, balancing global and local presence, effective accountability and board effectiveness. Each issue was brainstormed by a small team of practitioners.

Network governance

Expansion means many INGOs have operations in distant locations, as a result prompting difficulties for less well-established network members in having their voices heard. The experts concluded this required a “shift away” from a mindset that relies on a hierarchy of network members to recognising all branches as having strengths and a responsibility to support members elsewhere.

Three essential ingredients were identified for building a successful network. Firstly, NGOs should learn how to build a community of network members open to constructive disagreement and discussion. This should be supported by communications across the organisation rather than only coming from the centre.

Secondly, INGOs should work in ways that allow all network members to participate equally in building organisational culture that enables support between locations.

Lastly, to build an effective culture, local standards must be fed into a global processes, alongside minimum standards that can be “domesticated” in ways that allow members to be accountable for their own culture. There should be peer reviews for monitoring compliance with global policies. Stakeholders could be used as “reality checks”.

Global vs local presence

Here the question is how a global organisation can govern efficiency, consistency and relevance in a multitude of locations, and how local operations can remain connected to global governance given diverse cultures and aspirations.

Three options emerged. Organisational values should be set by all members to secure buy-in from local organisations. A global board should ensure values are observed and should set a tone from the top. But there was movement away from using newsletters, online platforms or webinars to support these values. Instead it was proposed that INGOs develop mobile teams—as flexible as a “drone”—to work across an international network. The team—dubbed a DVDD, or dynamic value-driven drone—would investigate when locations hit difficulties, drawing on expertise from other locations or the board. The individual team members might differ depending on the expertise or experience required.

Accountability

NGOs—whether national or international—must answer to a wide range of external stakeholders, some of whom may even have competing interests. This makes accountability difficult, but NGOs must nevertheless ensure that have solid accountability mechanisms and functioning sanctions if things go wrong.

One proposal for improving accountability was sharing more information and participation of stakeholders in performance assessment, strategic development, learning or even providing representation boards. NGOs could also consider inclusion of alumni—previous programme participants or beneficiaries—in decision-making bodies.

When it comes to accountability between an NGO’s network members, boards should consider clarifying to whom and for what people are accountable; submit to performance assessments against agreed benchmarks; provide a clear escalation process for managing problems; and identify top performers and foster a culture of positive peer pressure for continuous improvement.

But there was also a more radical proposal for accountability: NGOs could consider switching from a donor-focused model to one in which accountability is first and foremost to programme beneficiaries, who would become a “decisive feedback source”. Such a move would address public doubts that charities have failed to have an impact.

Board effectiveness

The concern identified here is that boards can become weighed down by trying to represent all stakeholders—so-called constituency boards—and in the process sacrifice effectiveness. NGOs should therefore properly define the role of directors and ensure regular assessments take place looking at the board’s role, tasks and practices. Internal discussions should be used to identify gaps in a board’s skills or knowledge.

NGOs should also consider other ways stakeholders can be heard at board level. This could include direct engagement, either face-to-face or virtually. NGOs should also investigate the increasing use of tech, such as board portals, as a means of improving effectiveness.

There are no easy answers to NGO governance. Recent scandals have raised the stakes and undermined trust. Addressing those issues is important. A charity that loses the faith of its donors could soon find itself out of the picture. Those who suffer most are beneficiaries whose lives would otherwise be worse off without the intervention of effective NGOs. At the root of trust, however, is good governance. Put that in place and the good work can continue without distractions.

This article has been prepared in collaboration with Nestor Advisors, supporters of Board Agenda.

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