Governance 2022 – day one highlights

We bring you the best of the first day at our annual conference, Governance 2022 taking place on 5-6 July 2022 at ExCel London.

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There was a definite buzz in the air as delegates arrived at London’s ExCel for CGIUKI’s first face-to-face annual conference since 2019. This year’s theme is the impact that governance professionals have on their organisations – something that has been thrown into sharp relief over the last two turbulent years.

Following Sara Drake, CGIUKI CEO’s, welcome, Lord Callanan, Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility delivered the Ministerial keynote address. It will come as no surprise that the draft audit reform bill was one of the key subjects on which he spoke. Peter Swabey, Director of Policy & Research at CGIUKI, wrote a helpful analysis of the reforms in the June/July issue of Governance and Compliance ­– delegates can pick up a copy at the CGIUKI stand.   

The morning continued with a panel discussion on how we can measure the impact of governance. The discussion around how the interests of business are increasingly intertwined with those of wider society was particularly interesting and will no doubt have provided food for thought for those who attended.

Across the event, breakout sessions have been divided into streams which align with the Competency Framework for Governance Professionals 2.0, which launched today. Each breakout includes a talk focusing on knowledge, values and practice, alongside a partner session. Delegates will have struggled to choose between so many great options, but the sessions on 'Perspectives on best practice in governance' proved to be particularly popular. Speaking to a delegate following 'The Four P's - Purpose, Profit, People, Planet',  they remarked that the employee shareholders driving purpose had provided food for thought. 

The last breakout session before lunch focused on the future, with panellists talking about modern governance requirements including agility, trust and inclusion and compassionate leadership. The theme of emotional intelligence was mirrored in the values stream, where the discussion centred on the importance of understanding how our emotions influence behaviour and how to read non-verbal cues such as body language and micro-expressions.

Fortified by a delicious lunch, we began the afternoon with a session on bullying in the boardroom. The talk highlighted the importance of directors and chairs taking action when they see bullying; failure to do so may impact the organisation’s ability to perform and the board’s ability to fulfil their statutory and fiduciary duties.

It was decision time again as we moved on to the afternoon breakout sessions. The update on the reforms taking place at Companies house following the Government White Paper in February 2022 was undoubtedly welcomed by delegates. The panel on organisational resilience and business continuity also proved popular; this remains a hot topic as it feels as though we’re lurching from one crisis to another with COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and recent air and rail travel disruptions, alongside the cost-of-living crisis and Brexit challenges. Speaking to a delegate after the session, they observed that the discussion around investor relations and governance had reiterated that their voice in the boardroom is essential and and as an enabler can have a positive impact. 

Over refreshments, delegates took the opportunity to catch up with one another and share views on the sessions that they’d attended. It was a pleasure to see so many governance and related professionals together again. Many also took the time to visit the CGIUKI stand where colleagues were able to provide advice on the broad range of support and training that the Institute can offer.

As day one drew to a close, the panel session on the value of the company secretary was well attended. Based on recent CGIUKI research on the relevance of governance, the conversation delved into whether the profession is properly recognised and valued. It was great to hear a range of perspectives on changing perceptions and the increasing profile of the governance professional and their role in helping organisations to understand what should be done rather than what can be done. 

Day one ended with a panel discussion on diversity and inclusion. The focus was on ensuring that EDI initiatives achieve meaningful, lasting change within the organisation. It was an inspirational way to round off a fantastic first day of the conference.

We’re already excited about what’s in store tomorrow, with so many more sessions being led by thought leaders and experts in the field; we hope to see many of you there. 

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