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Start As You Intend To Continue: And Other Thoughts On #CorpGov

Posted on May 20, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Since the financial crisis, we have become obsessed with talking about corporate culture. But have there been any changes to ensure that corporate governance - widely recognised as the 'essence of a business' - is understood throughout any organisation?

Judging by the UK's business schools - assuming they are the breeding ground for future business leaders - apparently not.

Chris Hodge, ex- Director of Corporate Governance at the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and now a consultant within the policy team at ICSA: The Governance Institute, carried out an assessment of the published syllabuses of the UK’s leading business schools. He found that less than one third of them offer modules on corporate governance on their Master of Business Administration (MBA) programmes.

 Looking at the top 20 business schools, there are just three offering core modules with 'governance'in the title -  Cass Business School (City University), Cambridge Judge Business School and Strathclyde Business School). Just a further three have dedicated optional governance modules : Birmingham, Nottingham and Warwick.


Several business schools - including Leeds and Bath - apparently make no mention of corporate governance in their summary of course content at all, according to ICSA.


"Leading UK business schools appear to be failing in their duty to instil in the future business elite the principles of effective governance. Businesses are ultimately only as good as the people who provide leadership and direction, and it appears counter-intuitive in the wake of recent and ongoing governance failures, that the providers of business education have not adapted to prepare their students to fill future positions of business leadership responsibly”says Mr Hodge.

Quite. As for boardrooms - they too, need to recognise that corporate governance involves a living and changeable set of values, instilled into processes and decisions. And no, it is not for 'geeks', 'nerds' or 'anoraks' alone, endlessly splitting hairs around process and regulatory compliance.

Perhaps we need to change the language around corporate governance, to change the thinking.That the thinking can be fresh and innovative was apparent to me last night, at the #LightingTheFire Awards held by LEAP confronting conflict (@leap_cc) in London. This is a charity that works with young people to manage conflict and, by extension, reduce violence in communities. Its experiences - and the way it articulates them - could hold lessons for many boardrooms.

Certainly, LEAP's Values and Core Principles puts the 'mission statement' of many plcs to shame.

From last night, a lesson on accountability to self, and being a leader.

Anthony, last year's Young Leader winner, 'this is your life, no one's going to lead it for you' #lightingthefire pic.twitter.com/xDbT97oJ7L

CEO of LEAP, Thomas Lawson, provided much needed perspective for all on the need for inclusion in society and that surely includes boardrooms.

The good news is that there are business leaders willing to chat casually and openly about the importance of corporate governance - and Richard Buxton, CEO of Old Mutual Global Investors, which sponsors LEAP for the second year running, was one of them last night.

Perhaps he will now have business schools flocking to his door. Live in hope. And have a great weekend.

With Richard Buxton, CEO Old Mutual Global Investors at LEAP #LightingTheFire awards

(I am the one looking somewhat rumpled)

London May 19, 2016

Categories: Behaviour, Transparency, Inclusion