2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the IoD Chartered Director qualification.
Described as a ‘world first’ by the Guardian, the Chartered Director programme sets a gold standard for director training. Its launch in 1999 marked a ‘milestone’ for the IoD, which remains the only Institute to offer qualifications for directors under Royal Charter.
The course has been compared by those who have taken it to a PhD in corporate leadership. In the words of Sir Tim Melville-Ross, the IoD’s Director General at the time of its inception, the “CDir” label ‘sends the strongest possible signal that we mean business.’
Since then, the IoD has developed almost 2000 Chartered Directors in the UK and beyond. We have continually developed the qualification to get it settled as a natural part of what boards need, work that continues as we seek to fulfil our vision of having a chartered director on every board.
Recently, I contacted Sir Melville-Ross about his role overseeing the qualification’s launch. He was delighted with the progress over the last twenty years, saying that the number of CDirs was ‘testament to the value that senior people attach to the qualification.’
‘In a fast-moving world,’ Melville-Ross argued, ‘it is very important to know what you are doing and what the rules are. The Chartered Director qualification will be an important asset along the way.’
Corporate Governance and director’s duties have developed considerably since 1999, and organisations are increasingly seeing the need for director qualifications. Meanwhile, debate in the UK around broadening participation on boards has intensified the need to develop employees, enabling them to take their place at the top table.
At the IoD, we are currently seeing an increasing demand for our courses from large organisations. This hasn’t been limited to business, with public sector bodies – in sectors such as healthcare, defense, police and education – all looking for a thorough grounding in governance. Nor has the demand been restricted to the UK, with a steep increase in take-up as far away as the Middle East and China. Meanwhile, we are also looking to further develop our presence in Africa and the Commonwealth; 2020 will be the year in which we begin a solid international strategy for promoting the qualification.
The UK is a world-leader on Corporate Governance. We intend for this to continue. Our current Chartered Directors are a large part of this, feeding directly into our goal of embedding director qualifications as best practice for board composition. More widely, as proposed recently in our recent corporate governance manifesto, we believe that UK plc could benefit from the development of an industry-led Code of Conduct for Directors and minimum requirements for governance training, both areas in which Chartered Directors are trailblazers.
Our large group of Chartered Directors will have an important role in developing the pipeline of tomorrow’s “CDirs”. Alongside the IoD, they are working in groups across the UK and beyond to promote the qualification, and shift the expectations of boards, moving the dial on director qualifications.
As an Institute, we are very proud of all our Chartered Directors, who have invested significantly in raising the standards of corporate governance and are role models for their peers in their commitment to lifelong learning. They will be central to taking the qualification to the next level in the years ahead.