Trade bodies launch initiative to help employees be heard in boardrooms

Joint initiative will identify existing best practice in industry

Trade bodies launch initiative to help employees be heard in boardrooms
Canary Wharf and the city are seen at sunset in London, Dec. 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

LONDON (Reuters) — Two trade bodies launched a project on Friday to help company boards hear their employees' voices and act on them, following on from British government proposals for corporate governance reform.

The joint initiative between the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) and the Investment Association would identify existing best practice in the industry and publish guidance outlining approaches for companies to consider while managing employees, customers and suppliers.

To be published in the second quarter of 2017, the guidance will address issues such as the processes by which boards can receive stakeholder views and how training can be used to enhance directors' understanding of their duties to stakeholders.

The guidance would draw on approaches already outlined in government proposals published in November, which included designating non-executive directors to represent key interested groups, and strengthening reporting requirements on the performance of directors' duties.

"We agree with the government that the views of stakeholders need to be heard by boards," said Peter Swabey, policy and research director at the ICSA.

"Many companies already do this effectively, but our guidance is intended to assist those boards that feel the need to act now to improve their engagement," he added in a statement.

During her Conservative party leadership campaign, Prime Minister Theresa May hinted at implementing worker representation on company boards, part of a broader push against "out of touch" elites. She later backtracked on the proposal. 

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