Positive societal impacts and business challenges should be heard
It is the time for all board members and company heads to seize the moment and share how their organisation makes a positive contribution to society, says a UK-based group secretary.
Speaking to a full crowd at the Governance Institute of Australia’s national conference for 2018, Marks & Spencer’s group secretary and head of corporate governance Amanda Mellor said that “in a world of instant use where attention spans are reducing, and society's attitudes are more and more easily influenced by headlines and sound bites, governance has a more important role to play than ever before”.
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Speaking of her own knowledge around “economic and societal devastation from bad cultures and values over the past decade, she believes “it will take a venture between investors, companies, regulators and government” to stimulate the restoration of confidence and trust, especially in the UK, to “drive performance for the benefit and prosperity of all”.
Ms Mellor emphasised the need to address corporate issues both in Australia and overseas “through authentic values” or risk “profound and negative” consequences.
In response to a question about the biggest mistakes being made by boards in a context of culture and values, Ms Mellor’s response was an “easy one.”
“Not listening, and not being prepared to listen,” she said.
Calling it “transparency” and “being open,” Ms Mellor extrapolated that “if we're not open about what we've done wrong, we're not going to know and we're not going to be able to give insight into what investors tell us [that] they want to know.
“They want to know what's going on inside the heart of the business and what's going on in the boardroom,” she continued.
“They want to know how the board takes decisions, how tough are the challenges and what are the considerations.”
“I think it’s a duty to do that,” she explained.
“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also share how it makes a positive contribution to society,” Ms Mellor urged.
“Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”