Governance and Professionalism: Time to Raise the Bar

(By Peter Cross)Last week, I was invited, with 16 others, to help review a Competency Framework being proposed by the Institute of Directors. I commend this initiative, aimed at raising the bar. While competency of itself does not guarantee that any director will be effective, it is a move in the right direction.

During the wide-ranging discussion, several participants suggested that governance should be professionalised, like medicine, accountancy, law and several other professions. I support these calls—strongly. Why? Well, stories like this get under my skin. While the majority of directors fulfil their legal and ethical responsibilities well, sadly there are a few bad eggs that discredit governance in the public's eyes.

The mechanism would be relatively straightforward, involving perhaps:

entrance tests (competency, references and interviews)

maintenance of professional standards (on-going education)

periodic re-registration (two- or three-yearly)

tiering (a general registration, and a higher level for directors of large, widely-held or publicly-listed companies)

a disciplinary tribunal (with teeth and a propensity to act)…

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The Board Director Training Institute (BDTI) is a "public interest" nonprofit in Japan dedicated to training about directorship, corporate governance, and related management techniques. It is certified by the Japanese government to conduct these activities as a regulated nonprofit. Read a summary about BDTI here, and see a menu of its services for both corporations and investors here.

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