Accountability & Openness
Accountability and openness
Openness is one of the hallmarks of good governance. It is imperative that the board ensures that the organisation acts in an open and transparent way in order to gain the trust of its customers, employees, suppliers and others. Openness helps ensure that boards, management and organisations as a whole are accountable to their stakeholders and can be supported by having clear policies, procedures and meeting guidelines, which can help clarify and justify decisions.
What is a stakeholder?
Every organisation will have different groups of stakeholders. Stakeholders are essentially parties or individuals that have an interest in your organisation and how it behaves. These may include employees, customers, regulators, local and central government, local charities, and the general public, many of which will often have competing priorities and ideas about how the organisation should be run. It is the board’s responsibility to understand each stakeholder’s role and influence and work out how to be accountable to each group (this is often known as Stakeholder Management).
What can organisations do to ensure openness and accountability?
Ensuring the right amount and type of information about the organisation’s dealings is made available is an important part of being open and accountable. The types of information that might be published include organisational policies, annual reports, press releases and Corporate Social Responsibility reports. Such information should be accurate, accessible and understandable, with the aim of giving as much information to your stakeholders as is commercially viable. Obviously, there will often be commercially-sensitive information that should not be made generally available. Ascertaining what information should and shouldn’t be given to stakeholders can be a tricky business and this is where Bridgehouse can help.
If your organisation is required to hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) (either as a legal requirement or as required under its governing documents) it is imperative that this is conducted not only in accordance with legal requirements, but in an open and transparent manner. Depending on the size and type of organisation, AGMs can be time-consuming and complicated to arrange and deliver. Bridgehouse has a wealth of experience in organising AGMs of all types and sizes, from the preparation of meeting documents, to shareholder communications to minuting the meetings and will be delighted to assist your organisation at its next AGM.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) concerns the need for organisations to act as good corporate citizens, taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities and other stakeholders. It can be described as “the deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision-making”.
The first step is to determine whether you should have a documented CSR policy and if so to determine its scope and features. Some organisations are legally required to have CSR policies in place whereas others may consider that having one helps support their culture, values and outputs and it is therefore important to have one for commercial reasons.
Some organisations are required to regularly account for their actions and ‘social accounting’ is a large part of CSR. Several reporting guidelines and standards have been developed to measure performance in this area.
What can Bridgehouse do to assist?
There are many ways Bridgehouse can help you achieve your goal of an open and transparent organisation. These include:
- Identifying stakeholders and developing a stakeholder engagement strategy
- Reviewing published information
- Assistance with arranging and delivery of effective Annual General Meetings
- Establishing and implementing Corporate Social Responsibility policy
- Measuring the effectiveness of the CSR policy
Many organisations, including public limited companies, some charities, certain limited companies, member organisations or public interest organisations, are required by their governing documents or statute to hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM). As the name suggests, these are held every year and carry out such business as the election of the board of directors (or individual directors), presentation of accounts and to inform their members of previous and future activities. It is an opportunity for the shareholders and interested parties to receive copies of the company’s report and accounts, as well as reviewing performance over the past year and asking any questions about the direction the organisation will take in the future. It is the chief opportunity to hold the organisation and its management team to account. Bridgehouse provides a range of AGM services to help ensure your meeting runs smoothly.→ find out more
Stakeholder Management Services+
Stakeholders are what keep an organisation running. They are its employees, its customers, its regulators, its potential customers… As every organisation is different, every group of stakeholders is different. Your stakeholders may also change and evolve over time, so it is important to ensure that your stakeholder management is fluid and up-to-date. It is the board’s responsibility to understand each stakeholder’s role and influence and work out how to be accountable to each group.→ find out more