As you may be aware, over the past couple of months we have held a series of events right across the UK to help gauge members’ views as we carry out a strategic review to strengthen the IoD’s offering to members. Through these meetings we have received feedback from around a thousand members, which has provided an immense amount of insight for our review. On a personal level, I greatly appreciated the opportunity to speak directly to so many IoD members and hear their ideas, as has the rest of our leadership team.
If you attended one of the events, I would like to thank you for giving up your time to contribute to shaping the future of the Institute. If you couldn’t make it, the conversation isn't over:firstname.lastname@example.org is still open for your thoughts and suggestions. I promised members that we would collate feedback from the events and share it with you all, which is the purpose of this email. I appreciate there is a great deal of information in this email, but I want to make sure you are fully informed.
Building upon extensive research, as well as the hundreds of emails sent to our Ideas inbox, the events tested proposals grouped into three main themes: Connectivity, Professionalism and Localisation. These areas encompass crucial questions about the IoD’s offering to members and the Institute’s underlying purpose.
The first theme, Connectivity, relates to one of the core reasons members have for joining the IoD: to connect with other leaders, to learn from each other and do business. We are eager to provide more opportunities for members to find like-minded contacts and to create a community-based membership.
One proposal in this area we sought input on was the creation of a membership app. The reception for this was positive, with members suggesting that an app should be launched with a limited number of functions so that it is simple to use and understand, and further features can be added based on demand. Common features desired by members included the ability to message other members, ask business-related questions and book events, with an emphasis on configuring the app to personal preferences, and ensuring that the underpinning philosophy was ‘share not sell’. The app is, of course, only one part of improving our digital offering for members.
The second specific proposal put forward was for the IoD to provide a mentoring facilitation service. This proposal was enthusiastically received, with many members at the events volunteering to provide their time. There was general recognition of the value for both mentor and mentee, and the convening power of the IoD as a trusted brand. At the same time, emphasis was placed on the need for vetting, guidelines, and a level of support.
The second theme, Professionalism, touched upon a fundamental question for the IoD. Directorship is not a profession in the same sense as accountancy or law; there are no legal training requirements, nor is it necessary to be a member of a professional body. And yet, the requirements and expectations on directors (and other similar roles) are growing all the time and increasingly becoming a matter of public and political interest.
There are no straightforward answers to this question, but previous feedback from members, endorsed at the events, suggests that members remain keen for the IoD to champion for good leaders and good governance. In this light, we identified and put forward some practical proposals to help us make progress in this area.
The first was internal: to create a tier of membership with minimum requirements in terms of director qualifications or CPD, as is common in membership bodies for both regulated and non-regulated professions. This received a mixed response, with some seeing it as a natural expectation for a professional body, while others felt it a hindrance to the IoD’s goal to promote entrepreneurship, with the concern that members who didn’t qualify could be seen as ‘second-class’. Many members volunteered, however, that the IoD should review and strengthen its code of conduct for members, repositioned as a code of ethics or behaviours, to show the Institute leading from the front on governance standards.
Combined with this specific feedback was a strong sense that the IoD’s membership and professional development wings should be more integrated from the member’s perspective, with suggestions including more events with a CPD element, and more opportunities for learning that do not involve taking a formal course.
The second element of the professionalism theme was externally-focussed. As an active force in the regulation and oversight of corporate governance, the IoD could advocate for the creation of an industry-led Professional Standards Board for Directors, which would draw up a code of conduct for directors of large organisations. In the event of breaches, the Board would be able to convene a panel of expert practitioners, who could censure directors, and in extreme case recommend disqualification to the Secretary of State for Business.
The explicit aim of this proposal is to address the gap between the law on governance, which is often criticised for being unenforceable, and the desire among members for directors who bring the name into disrepute to feel the consequences. This is a complex policy area, and the proposal drew mixed views from IoD members: many wanted the IoD to push for greater consequences for directors who failed in their duties, but there was caution about the impact where business failure was not the result of malpractice.
Under the theme of Localisation we asked members about how you wanted to interact with the IoD at different levels (national, regional, branch, and internationally), and in particular what you wanted to see more of on a local level. While the events highlighted that members want a good personal experience in terms of high-quality local content and well-attended events, what you are really looking for is personalisation and relevance.
This feedback was woven through all of our discussions with members. The need for personalisation was backed up at the events when I heard members saying they would like services from the IoD, such as being able to feed in their views to government, find information or access learning content, which are in fact already services we provide.
The IoD has always been a champion for directors and for a competitive and open economy and we will continue to do all we can to represent you. I regularly meet with senior politicians including the Prime Minister, Chancellor, Business Secretary to put forward your views. Through our monthly Policy Voice surveys, you can help to shape policy on business. From securing a transition period to cutting business rates in the Budget, I can assure you that your voice is being heard.
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Support and Guidance
If you haven’t used our Information and Advisory Service, please don’t forget that our team is here to help you with tailored research, advisory sessions with experts on everything from HR issues to Intellectual Property law, and we also have legal and tax helplines – all as part of your membership. (A quick reminder that your credits renew in the new year, so don’t forget to use them!).
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Boost your skills
We have responded to members’ need for easy-to-access learning content through our new digital academy, which allows you to assess yourself against our competency framework for directors, and then browse bite-sized CPD resources to help you develop as a leader. It’s a great resource, which again comes part of your membership.
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This is, of course, just a summary of the feedback and does not cover everything we heard. I would just like to take this opportunity to say that we are truly passionate about developing the organisation so that we can help you thrive. I hope you have found this feedback useful and I will endeavour to update you regularly as we progress.
Once again I would like to express my gratitude to all those who attended our events or fed back via email, which were both highly constructive. It was a real pleasure to meet and hear from so many members who share our enthusiasm for what the IoD can offer leaders, whether established or aspiring.