What does ‘being a better director’ mean in 2024?

The core responsibilities of a company director are as consistent today as they were 50 years ago.

Legal duties, good governance and company representation remain primary obligations across all sectors.

However, the business landscape has changed and continues to evolve. Digital transformation, employee wellbeing and diversity and inclusion are now part of a modern director’s everyday agenda.

Here, specialist business insurer, Hiscox provides six opportunities to being a better director today.

1 – Adapting to the ever-changing digital landscape and hybrid working

Technology never stays still and is enabling more and more UK businesses to offer and provide remote and hybrid working. Indeed, much of today’s UK workforce demands it.

According to a recent IoD survey, a large majority of business leaders plan to offer their staff remote working in the long-term.

More than 8 in 10 (84%) business leaders stated that they plan to offer some degree of remote working for office-based employees in future.

The combination of remote and office-based working has its advantages, providing employees with flexibility and an improved work-life balance. Others argue it reduces productivity and reduces engagement among the workforce.

However, the hybrid model is here to stay. Today’s most successful directors are those who continue to adapt and embrace change as digital innovation enables different ways of working for the benefit of both businesses and their employees.

2 – Supporting employee wellbeing and mental health

Now, more than ever, recognising and improving employee mental health is a key responsibility of directors.

A survey by UnMind found that for 74% of people, their mental health negatively affected their career and 32% said they received no mental support at work.

The survey also highlighted that work-related stress is a contributing factor to employees’ poor mental health. Investment, therefore, in wellbeing support is vital.

Directors who take measures to promote employee wellbeing throughout their organisation will deliver a more positive and supportive environment.

From 6 April 2024, employees will be able to request flexible working from their first day in a new job. Previously, employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to request flexible working.

Flexible hours are also being recommended for female workers experiencing symptoms of the menopause. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says employers should make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for those going through the menopause.

Reasonable adjustments include flexible working, rest areas and relaxing uniform policies to  allow cooler clothing.

Failing to make reasonable adjustments amounts to disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 if the symptoms have a ‘long-term and substantial impact’ on a woman’s ability to carry out their usual day-to-day activities, says the EHRC.

Providing flexible working hours, recognising people’s need for work-life balance, those with child or caring responsibilities or additional needs all go to supporting employee wellbeing and mental health.

3 – Recognising the importance of diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion begins with directors and their senior leadership teams. It is their responsibility to foster and implement a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Evidence shows that diverse and inclusive workplaces are better for business, improving both productivity and resilience.

The IoD’s report on the McKinsey Diversity and Inclusion survey highlights that businesses with a greater representation of gender were 25% more likely to outperform other companies in terms of profit.

Cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture also helps benefit employee wellbeing and sense of belonging.

The IoD’s  policy paper ‘The Future of Business: harnessing diverse talent for success’ made a series of recommendations to government to bring about the most favourable conditions for businesses and directors to flourish with specific reference to gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation.

The IoD’s five practical steps can help you build an inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued, respected and supported.

4 – Adopting sustainable processes and technology

As the 2020s have been declared the decade of action on climate change and the UK Government’s date for achieving net zero draws closer, you may be wondering what simple steps your business can take to begin its journey to net zero.

Small changes that can be maintained in the long term are the best way to ensure a smooth and successful transition to a more sustainable future.

There is a strong business case for becoming more sustainable. Consumers increasingly expect businesses to take the lead on sustainability; a survey by Deloitte found that 64% of consumers want brands to reduce packaging, and 46% said they want clarity on the sourcing of products. Reducing your carbon footprint can also reduce business costs in the longer term by making changes that reduce energy usage or using less packaging.

But where should you start as a sustainable business leader? The IoD’s Sustainable Business Hub is a great place to start with its best practice advice and wealth of resources.

These include the Sustainable Director Podcast Series and its Sustainable Director course designed to equip directors with the knowledge and skills to strengthen their organisation’s orientation towards sustainability.

The Hub also features 10 ways to make your business more sustainable.

5 – Advocating for corporate social justice and employee activism

As a director, it’s important to be conscious of relevant causes for social justice and how your business reflects these in its work and strategy. More and more big businesses are taking a stand on the various social and cultural issues of the day.

But that’s not to say taking such stands is right for every business. And when doing so, it’s worth checking yourself to be sure you’re doing it for the right reason. As the Harvard Business Review writes, this form of tokenism, where businesses are quick to make an insubstantial statement against social injustice, simply out of the fear of backlash against their silence, is also referred to as ‘woke washing’.

Nevertheless, by supporting people within your business, especially those affected by these topical issues, and providing a platform for their voices to be heard, you can be a champion for positive change from the top of your organisation.

6 – Increasing employee engagement and retention

Employee engagement and retention are among the top priorities for directors and their businesses, no more so than now.

Many have found the key to retention, and to maintaining employee wellbeing and satisfaction, is hybrid and remote working.

These flexible methods allow people to strike a healthy work-life balance and take time to look after themselves and their families.

Offering a good and competitive employee benefits package is proven to increase staff loyalty, boost productivity and help attract the best talent.

Providing a comprehensive package of the best employee benefits will have a long-term impact in increasing employee wellbeing, helping to retain and attract staff and improving overall business outcomes.

In addition to flexible working, such packages can also include access to digital healthcare and financial and mental wellbeing support.


We work with Hiscox, who offer a wide range of policies to protect your business – including employers’ liability, public and products liability, professional indemnity, cyber and data risks, directors’ and officers’ and office cover. As an IoD member, you benefit from a 12.5% discount* on their standard rates for the life of your policy.

Hiscox wants to help your small business thrive. Their blog articles will contain lots of useful information relevant to your growing business. But these articles do not constitute professional advice and must not be construed nor relied upon as such. To find out more on a subject we cover here, please seek professional assistance, specific to your circumstances.

*Any discount is only applicable to policies introduced via the Institute of Directors, whether existing or new, but could not be applied to policies that are being managed by an alternative third party such as an insurance broker. Discount available for the lifetime of your policy applies on renewals while the Institute of Directors remains an Introducer Appointed Representative of Hiscox Underwriting Ltd. Terms and conditions apply. For full terms and conditions see hiscox.co.uk/IoD/business-insurance. The Institute of Directors is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Hiscox Underwriting Ltd. who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. For UK businesses only.

Better directors for a better world

The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.

Running a successful business

Browse valuable business advice resources from the IoD.
Internet Explorer
Your web browser is out of date and is not supported by the IoD website. It is important to update your browser for increased security and a better web experience.