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Blog : BOARD TALK

A Business Initiative To Be Applauded In UK Boardrooms

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 3:15 PM

The CBI is the UK's powerful business lobbying group - so it's exciting to report on its latest initiative that could make a real difference to our plc boardrooms.


Sir Roger Carr, whom I interviewed recently for the Financial Times, was its last President. The new one is Sir Mike Rake, chairman of BT Group plc.


In a nutshell, this leadership programme aims to support succession planning by ensuring senior business talent is ready to make the step up to the C-suite or boardroom. Participants are intended to be from a diverse background and to be up to five years from an organisation’s main board. In practical terms, the course is for ten days which will take place 'in a variety of contextual learning environments over the course of eight months.'


It also involves exposure to government circles, so to the cynics, this could be the CBI extending its lobbying influence. But to anyone interested in better boardrooms, I believe it offers a real opportunity, backed by the most credible sponsor, to move towards more diversity and businesses better equipped for the challenges of a changing world - with many of its target emerging markets in their own private mayhem.


This programme is not about theory. It offers the following:

  • tackles real-time current issues
  • contextual, and about different policy and political environments: "By taking participants out of the workplace and giving them direct experience of Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels, regional government, Scottish Parliament and Washington, it allows participants to understand for themselves how influencing government differs depending on the context (my emphasis)
  • led by real business leaders and policy professionals
  • utilises the CBI’s 'unique relationship with government and key stakeholders to expose participants to the dynamics of government and business relations' (can't argue with that)
  • a selection process 'chaired by the CBI President, Sir Mike Rake, ensuring that all participants genuinely have the capacity to be board level within five years and that the overall mix of the cohort reflects the diversity of business by size, sector and the personal characteristics of the individuals' (my emphasis)
  • diversity : 'The diversity of the cohort supports innovative thinking, the sharing of different approaches and the opportunity for critical challenge and debate. It also enables business leaders to develop a wider perspective' (oh yessss please)
  • group seniority - all must be deemed to be five years from the boardroom


There is more- what are you waiting for ? Take a look and apply, I say....and a pat on the back for those plcs that know which of their staff are, indeed, 'five years from the boardroom.' If you don't know now, time to find out.


But while I have your attention, there's one more thing dear to my heart: cross-fertlisation of ideas between business and government. There has been a lot written recently about UK civil service reform, not least by the highly regarded clever think-tank the Insititute for Government. 


I would argue that the CBI's leadership programme sounds like it might go some way towards further two-way communication between business and government, which can only be a good thing, if done in a transparent and open manner with the potential of win-win all round. 






Categories: Leadership, Appointments, Engagement