A busy month kicked off overlooking a magnificent view of the football grounds of Reading’s Madejski Stadium.
I was attending our IoD South roadshow event - this was the second such event I took part in and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was held at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre, which sits inside the football stadium. Having arrived a few hours early, I had a great opportunity to spend time with employees and members in advance of the meetings, and speak to them personally. Everyone was super enthusiastic and put in a lot of effort to make it a good event. The spirit, interest and warmth I encountered has underlined to me what a great organisation the IoD is, because of its members.
This interest was also evident when I travelled later in the month to Newcastle, for our IoD North East Roadshow, where I met the Chair, Dr. Joanna Berry, the North East team and members there. My thanks go to them, along with the IoD South team, for having me at these events. All the feedback we have had is helping us immensely as we move forward.
Our discussions in Newcastle touched particularly on how we can increase the relevance of the IoD to members throughout their life journey. I see no reason we should not attract members at a young age and be an active part of their personal and professional development throughout their life, and the kind of open conversations we had in Newcastle are crucial to help us understand how to achieve this.
Open conversations are a necessary part of the operation of every business. One we have had to have recently regards our own cost base. We are in the process of considering what savings we might make to ensure we continue to be able to provide the services that matter to members. Of course, any decisions we take in this regard will be communicated to you as soon as is possible.
Back at Pall Mall, I was able to take part in one of our regular Business Barometer Breakfasts. These events, which are free to members registered on Policy Voice and Advance, are usually quite informal and a chance for members to raise any policy-related issues that they are facing.
At this month’s breakfast we welcomed Paul Uppal, the Small Business Commissioner, and our discussion focussed on late payments, which is an area the Commissioner leads on - we also covered topics such as Wellbeing and Governance. I really can highly recommend these events to members.
One of the great benefits of getting to talk with so many members face to face like this is that when I attend meetings as a representative of the IoD, my voice can be even stronger. It’s not just me in these meetings, raising issues like Brexit planning, and business rates - it is all of you, in spirit. This was the case when I met the Secretary of State for Business ahead of the Budget, where I questioned him on the issues you have brought to our attention, particularly through our Policy Voice surveys.
It was also the case when, towards the end of the month, I had the opportunity to take part in a meeting with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), alongside our corporate governance team, including Dr Roger Barker.
METI was highly interested in the IoD’s input around several areas of the corporate governance debate, and wished to learn from the UK’s experiences. At the same time, we ourselves benefit from discussing the topic with representatives from other countries, which not only provides insight on how the area is developing in other places, but also shows us a different perspective.
I came away from the meeting with little doubt that the UK Corporate Governance Code - and how our businesses implement it - is highly regarded around the world. This is also true of the IoD itself, which we can all be proud of.
In everything, however, there is always room for improvement. This is certainly the case at the moment with the gender balance on FTSE350 boards and leadership teams. It was, therefore, a pleasure to be invited to represent the IoD on the advisory panel of the Hampton-Alexander Review, a government report which looks into exactly this issue, with this year’s Review published in November.
In my view ideally this is not just a consideration for FTSE350 companies but for all businesses that want to excel and ensure they have all the talent at the table to help them do so.
I wish you all a happy November preparing for the busy month of December.