ICSA publishes guidance on improving charity boardroom behaviours

ICSA: The Governance Institute has published a new set of guidance, aimed at helping charities to recognise and improve boardroom behaviours.

The new guidance follows the Charity Governance Code's seven principles of good governance and translates these principles into suggested boardroom behaviours for trustees, chairs, CEOs and governance professionals.

The boardroom behaviours, which have been attributed to the seven principles of good governance, have been broken down for trustees as follows:

• Principle 1: Organisational purpose: committed to the cause; clarity of focus (understanding their role and purpose); being strategic.
• Principle 2: Leadership: leads by example; can operate as part of the team.
• Principle 3: Integrity: integrity; independent thinking; ethical.
• Principle 4: Decision making, risk and control: probing but not controlling; risk aware, not risk-averse.
• Principle 5: Board effectiveness: self-aware; creative, innovative; keen to learn and improve.
• Principle 6: Diversity: open-minded; courageous.
• Principle 7: Openness and accountability: listens; inspires trust; accepts responsibility and accountability.

Each boardroom behaviour has been broken down into examples of behaviour for effective trustees, chairs, CEOs and governance professionals and assigned key questions for the board and individual trustees, so they can assess whether or not they are meeting the principles.

Introducing the guidance at ICSA’s annual conference at ExCel London yesterday, ICSA's head of policy for not-for-profit, Louise Thomson said: “Good governance is about more than just having the right policies, procedures and protocols in place.

"If the people responsible for leading the charity are ignorant of them, or unable or unwilling to adhere to them, governance falls down. This is why boardroom behaviours and the ethical practices, values and culture of the charity are of equal importance. This guidance provides examples of positive behaviours that should help trustees to make constructive challenge and good decisions that further the charitable objects and lead to positive changes.”

She concluded: “Good and professional behaviour is critical to board effectiveness. Getting the right boardroom behaviours is more complex than writing and implementing guidelines, however.

"The recruitment process and the role of the chair are integral to help develop, and maintain, a team that demonstrates the appropriate boardroom behaviours. This guidance should help to focus the mind so that trustees are asking the appropriate questions of themselves and the charity they respresent.”

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