Walking the walk — why good governance is fundamental to a business’s culture
A conversation on embedding purpose into business as usual.
Good governance is to business what strong foundations are to houses. We ought to be just as concerned with the bedrock of businesses as we are with that of our homes.
The Governance section of the B Impact Assessment evaluates a company’s mission, ethics, accountability and transparency. A fundamental part of this section is the “mission lock” question, which requires every B Corp in the UK to make a legal commitment to mission aligned governance, requiring their boards to consider all stakeholders when making decisions.
We spoke to Geraldine Gallacher, CEO and Founder of The Executive Coaching Consultancy (ECC), a Best for the World (BFTW) Governance Honouree and an independent leadership coaching provider, to learn more about how mission-aligned governance informs how their business operates.
We’ve been spotlighting UK BFTW B Corps. These businesses are recognised for a score in the top 5% of one or more of the 5 sections of the B Impact Assessment, showing that competing not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world, is a winning strategy!
Hi Geraldine! From a top level, what are you doing to ensure that your whole organisation is aligned to your mission?
Geraldine: Bringing the whole team with us on our journey is so important. We host regular learning events for our coaching community to develop the skills that align with our goals. This year we’ve been investing in our diversity intelligence, so that coaches integrate principles of inclusion and belonging into every conversation with clients. Twice a year we host strategy events where all of our coaches, consultants and employees are invited and all views are welcomed.
Transparency, a key component of good governance, is as much about understanding as it is about visibility. With this in mind, our finance team takes the time to regularly help other teams to contextualise the numbers and make sense of the money side of the business. This year, revisions to our mission statement have been led by two members of staff who are not on the leadership team, as we feel it’s essential for the whole team to engage in the company’s strategy, goals and values. They are recrafting the statement after consultations with the whole company.
Can you tell us more about your non-profit arm, The Good Business Initiative, and the impact this is having?
Geraldine: The Good Business Initiative helps us support communities and businesses who could not otherwise afford our services. Our coaches give their time at low or no cost to these programmes, allowing us to have a greater impact on the lives of underserved individuals. The impact of delivering the Accelerate and Restart programmes through the GBI has been inspiring to witness.
Our ReStart programme is an annual employability programme delivered in partnership with a Magic Circle law firm for over 50s who have been unemployed for 6–12 months. It aims to support participants back to employment.
The Accelerate programme aims to empower these leaders to pursue their career aspirations and be new role models for other women in the future. Last year, we delivered the NHS Accelerate programme to a group of women working at an NHS trust who belong to underrepresented ethnic groups.
We felt it was important for the coaches delivering this programme to represent the women taking part, so we chose coaches who were ethnically diverse in order to create a space of psychological safety. We continue to support these women through one-to-one coaching which is delivered on a pro-bono basis. At the end of the programme, we conducted an impact survey in which all participants agreed (58% strongly agreed, 42% agreed) Accelerate helped to explore how to amplify their impact as a female leader at the NHS.
We’ve heard about your Parental Fog Index. What is this, and how can it be used to increase transparency around parental benefits?
Geraldine: We know that many prospective employees want to know about parental leave benefits, long before considering starting a family, however, they are less keen to ask about these benefits during the interview process. We aim to provide transparency on family benefits by publishing these publicly. Our index scores organisations from “Beacon” to “Foggy” to “Invisible”, depending on the availability of their benefits information. We fund this index and run roundtables and webinars so that clients and featured companies can share best practices and make simple improvements. Many have excellent benefits, but just don’t display any information publicly or accessibly, so we help them see the benefit of doing this.
We published findings from these rountables in 2019 and again in 2020. We have also just released a Parental Fog Index Report 2021 law Firm Report where ECC reviewed the websites of firms based in London in February 2021 to evaluate each organisation’s support of working parents.
You’ve got a range of resources built from your own experience and expertise. Are there any others that you’d be willing to share with our readers?
Geraldine: We have a dedicated Insights team who us keep up to date on the most current research and thinking in the areas of workplace equality and diversity. We also produce our own resources that are designed to break down complex and topical conversations through articles and podcasts to allow staff and other stakeholders to learn by their preferred medium.
Additionally, we have recently launched a new free area of our website for working parents, carers, and managers. Here, we have given access to some of our favourite resources, such as Work, Family & You which provides critical insights and resources to working parents, carers and managers free of charge.
How will you be celebrating your BFTW status?
Geraldine: We’re excited to create a buzz around our BFTW status on social media! We’re planning to capture some candid responses from staff about what this means to them which we will publish onto our external channels for the public to see. Watch this space!
If you are a B Corp, get in touch with Geraldine on the B Hive with any questions and share any tips or experience you have on supporting good governance.
If you aren’t yet a B Corp, get started on the B Impact Assessment today and start measuring what matters most! Use this tool to assess your impact on your workers, community, environment and customers.