CORPORATE GOVERNANCE – THE MYTH
There is a misconception that Corporate Governance exists purely in the world of Listed Companies and large Corporates. An additional view is that it embraces mainly bureaucratic and regulatory principles, and compliance provides its primary focus.
Whilst it is indisputable that structure, resource availability and systematic focus lends itself more to larger Corporates, the principles of robust Corporate Governance help to put into practice a worthwhile, effective and flexible control model for most companies, irrespective of size. Such principles encourage positive engagement between a business and its stakeholders and provides the foundation for a sustainable business growth strategy.
PRINCIPLES V BUREAUCRACY
A dynamic Corporate Governance model facilitates pragmatic and practical tools through utilising proportionate principle based approaches, acting as a vehicle through which companies can develop and retain the confidence of both stakeholders and shareholders as they progress through the various cycles of their development.
At Breeze we understand that governance is not about adhering to restrictive, time consuming compliance with legal or regulatory requirements – it is fundamentally about culture, rather than procedure.
APPLYING THE FOUNDATIONS OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
A pragmatic approach can be adapted for use by privately owned companies who wish to adopt good governance practices.
Key areas will benefit substantially by having the right people performing the right roles and doing the right things in collaboration across the business:
- The Board of Directors have a crucial role to play by maintaining a positive and consistent culture throughout the organisation, making robust decisions and managing risk. It is fundamental that they communicate a real focus on performance and what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviourally within the team.
- A medium to long-term view on sustainability will alleviate any short-term, crisis management approach which can bring inconsistency and instability – effective communication of that longer term view is essential to promote a bond of trust between the team, shareholders and stakeholders.
- Clear communication between the Chair and the Board, whilst time consuming, is essential – particularly at the smaller end of the business market where public scrutiny is less likely to provide a restrictive and accountable framework.
OUR EXPERIENCE OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE IN ACTION
When the founder members of Breeze, Paul Bevan and Pete Wood, asked me, on joining the business, to review Corporate Governance as a mechanism to support our rapidly growing team, I identified a number of aspects that clearly needed to be prominent in our thought processes.
I’ve heard it said so often throughout my long career that “the client is at the heart of all that we do” – well, at Breeze that phrase really does encapsulate our whole philosophy on how we want to run our business. Whatever we do, whoever we interact with, our clients are always at the forefront of our intentions. What is vital for us is that we are relentless in getting better and better in our service, support and guidance for all of our clients.
I’ve never believed that world class performance is, of necessity, linked with being big, complex or corporate in composition and we work very much “under the radar” in line with the wishes of most of our clients – that confidentiality is, and always will be, sacrosanct.
Even though we started up in 2018, we have developed a framework which supports us in ensuring that our client base comes first. This is aligned to a sustainable growth strategy which depends on a flexible, dynamic management approach and interaction.
The areas we need to address are tailored to our regularly changing circumstances and are reviewed half yearly when the Board get together for a Strategy Day – these are in addition to our Board Meetings which are also held on a quarterly basis.
Breeze has established a business model, designed to promote long term value to our clients, team, stakeholders and shareholders, underpinned by a clear set of values aimed at protecting our company from unnecessary risk, thereby securing its future.
We are very focussed on taking into account wider stakeholder and social responsibilities. We have a detailed Stakeholder Management Programme, each segment overseen by a Business Head. These programmes review, on an ongoing basis, the interactions we enjoy with our internal and external stakeholders/ partners – the key resources and relationships upon which our business relies and our stakeholders are encouraged to provide us with feedback, upon which we take action. These Stakeholder Groups are – Clients, Staff, Suppliers, Professionals and Communities.
As Chair it is also essential that I look to guide the Board on what we need to do to identify, assess and manage risk to enable us to put in place effective management and control systems.
I believe our Board to be well balanced and individually and collectively fully aware of clear and relevant objectives which are designed to promote continuous improvement.
In addition, the Board understand that it is the responsibility of each member to lead and drive clear expectations around our business culture, ethics and standards which are at the core of what we do and how we maintain our competitive advantage.
Our Corporate culture is founded upon clear values of integrity, resilience and confidentiality and is supported by a platform of teamwork, inter-dependence and commitment.
At Breeze we continue to review our approach to governance – the views of our stakeholders are pivotal in this as we undertake our regular business reviews.