President's Report to Members - September 2020 International Council Meeting
As foreshadowed in my July 2020 report to you, the International Council, the global governing body of The Chartered Governance Institute, held its second 2-day Council meeting of 2020 by Zoom on 30 September and 1 October 2020. Prior to the pandemic outbreak, this regularly scheduled meeting was to be held face to face in Zimbabwe in conjunction with the Division’s annual conference.
As the Council meeting has only just concluded I would like to take this opportunity to outline progress with the 2020+ Strategic Plan as well as some important initiatives being undertaken by the Professional Standards Committee (PSC).
2020+ Strategic Plan
The serious global pandemic with which we are all grappling with has necessitated a close look at our strategies and priorities and we have re-shaped various aspects of what we do as a result.
The 2020+ Strategic Plan was necessarily formulated in the context of the current environment, but also looking to the future, and with a view to taking all possible steps to ensure maximum productivity, communication and co-operation across the 9 Divisions which make up the international Institute. This involves promoting the international Institute’s brand as well as complementing the 9 Divisions’ own profile building to assist with member and student growth within those Divisions and into possible new territories.
The 2020+ Strategic Plan is structured around 6 key elements: financial stability (including a Covid-19 response); business growth for students and members; brand enhancement; qualifications; thought leadership and finally, governance.
The aim of the Council is to ensure that our strategic stance is looking outward to our members and students and forward to the growth of the Institute making the most of all identified opportunities.
- Financial stability
The current health and economic circumstances around the world have highlighted the financial pressure on Divisions, as is the case in almost all associations. In this context the Council agreed to capitation fee relief in recognition of the financial pressure on Divisions and will continue to monitor the financial health of Divisions that may be in need of assistance.
As mentioned in the July 2020 report to members, the Institute created a Reserve Fund from retained surpluses generated last year and forecast for this year. The Reserve Fund has been put aside to support major strategic initiatives but may also be used to underpin the delivery of services by Divisions.
The current situation also increases the importance of looking for opportunities to share resources and identify more economic and productive ways of doing what we do. Accordingly, the Council and the Divisional Chief Executives are committed to taking a proactive approach to look for operating synergies wherever possible.
- Business growth
There are a number of projects in the 2020+ Strategic Plan that support business growth revolving around how we bring in new members in new territories, how we increase the rate of new members joining in existing Divisions (including younger members) and how we retain the members we already have?
From the discussion Council agreed that the Divisions will work together to evaluate growth opportunities in a select set of countries where there is an existing emergence of company secretaries and governance professionals. There has been good groundwork in several countries and Council now wants to build on this. In addition, Council has agreed to evaluate how to make it easier for members to move across Divisions and to see that all members have access to a well-developed set of member services.
In regard to existing members, the Council recognises that loyalty in belonging to member associations is viewed differently than it may have been a generation ago. How the international Institute configures its operations to maximise the delivery of services is critical if existing members are to be retained and new members, particularly younger members, are to be encouraged to join.
Historically, the Institute has designated the world into fixed geographic regions with Divisions delegated the responsibility to provide services to members in a particular country or region. However, the resources of Divisions vary considerably and, as the services that a member receives in one Division can differ from what a member receives in another Division, it is recognised that all Divisions should work toward a convergence in service delivery capacity.
- Enhancing the brand
It was acknowledged by Council that there is further work to do in order to grow awareness of the role of the international Institute across the world and to reinforce that the Institute is very much a global organisation in its reach and focus made up of its 9 Divisions. The individual Divisions will consider what relevant aspects of the global brand to adopt over the coming year. In addition, it was agreed that an information programme with members be undertaken that clearly enunciates the value proposition that stems from the international reach and activities of the international Institute.
- Thought leadership
The Council has previously agreed that the international Institute’s mission is to become ‘the shining beacon’ in governance. To underpin the mission, the Institute depends, amongst other things, upon the work of the Thought Leadership Committee (TLC). This Institute must have a voice on important governance issues around the world, which our members expect, and by doing so we aim to influence regulators, policy makers and the business community.
Whilst the TLC is able to draw on professionals across the Divisions to produce work that can be complementary to that of the local Divisions, the Council recognised that it is now time to increase the resources that can support the TLC. Over the coming months work will be undertaken to determine how best to fund technical support to the TLC so that its volunteer members can continue to contribute and at the same time see a greater output stemming from their experience and thought leadership ideas.
As with any organisation it is important that the governance framework of the Institute is fit for purpose so that it can effectively serve the interests of members. Council has agreed to undertake a review to identify current skills needs, identify any gaps and determine future needs to guide succession planning. In addition, Council has asked all Divisions to develop gender, skills and age succession plans for their representatives on Council.
A standing agenda item for every international Council meeting will be devoted to identifying systemic blockages and to develop strategies to alleviate them so we can work more productively and seamlessly together. And finally, the Council has agreed to ensure even greater clarity concerning the role of Council, the Honorary Officers, International Council committees and the Director General and the relationship of the international governing structure with the Divisions so as to help drive member and student growth.
Professional Standards Committee
The Council has agreed to a set of provisional guidelines for conducting on-line examinations remotely that was developed by the Professional Standards Committee (PSC). With a majority of Divisions moving from conducting examinations face-to-face to conducting examinations online and remotely starting in November 2020 it was important that a set of minimum standards were agreed to protect the quality of the education being provided for students and the reputation of the Institute.
The principal concerns are possible impersonation (another person sitting the exam, not the student), copying and plagiarism, data protection, procedural fairness and student equity.
As conducting examinations remotely is relatively new and practices are always being improved, it was agreed that compliance with the provisional guidelines at this stage be on an “if not, why not then how” basis in order to enable the Divisions to take into account their own circumstances and those of the students in their Division. After the participating Divisions complete the end of 2020 exams the PSC will work to finalise the guidelines taking into account the actual examination experiences of the Divisions.
The international Institute conducted its second global webinar for 2020 on 8 October 2020 on the subject of The changing role of the governance professional: Post Covid. It was a strong brand statement for the Institute that it was able to have panellists from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Hong Kong and Australia, all being very experienced Fellows of this Institute. The webinar attracted over 2,400 participants from every Division, and from many countries beyond our Divisions including a significant proportion of non-members that will now hopefully better appreciate the value of the Institute. You can now watch the webinar on-demand here.
As always, I close with a note of sincere appreciation of my fellow Council members, Divisional CEO’s, the Director General, Tim Sheehy, and the Institute Secretary, Cynthia Mora Spencer. I am sure that everyone reading this is well aware of the challenges of running meetings over a Zoom-like platform as opposed to face to face. I can honestly say that all present at the most recent International Council meeting gave their full commitment which enabled the Council meeting to be a very productive one.
I am confident that our Institute and our profession has a very bright future and is well-positioned to be of service to members in these difficult times by being there for them with a significant range of information, support, education and the ability to be part of a global ‘’family’’.
Peter Turnbull AM FCG
13 October 2020
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