As well as being caught in the grip of Storm Emma, it does also seem that we're also caught in a corporate governance storm, with the latest companies to fall being Toys R Us and Maplin, writes Co-operatives UK's Linda Barlow. While we wait to see if a rescue deal can be found for these companies it does no harm to revisit how a watchful eye on good governance can keep an organisation on track and act as a warning signal to where things may be going wrong.
Riding the storm
Good governance is essential to any organisation - and co-operatives are no exception. We know that reviewing your co-operative's governance can be daunting, time consuming and is often ignored until risks become a reality. However, opting for a pro-active rather than a reactive approach can save costs, time and ultimately reputation in the long term.
To help you along, we' ve set out a few simple steps to help you get to grips with reviewing your co-operative's governance.
Undertake a simple internal governance check
- Your co-operative's governing document. Dust of the cobwebs and ensure those involved in the governance of your organisation know what it is - articles, rules, agreement, constitution
- What is the governing body and who is part of it? You may refer to this as a Management Committee, Board, Directors, Trustees
- What is the role of that governing body? We have compiled a very useful resource on the role of the co-operative Board which can help focus your thinking
- What are the interests of the people that serve on the governing body? Here, we are referring to their relationships with other organisations and people that those people owe a duty to so we can record any interests and check for conflicts. Do you need to refresh your conflicts of interest policy?
- Is everyone on the governing body clear on their role and what is expected of them? Our Directors' Toolkit help start that conversation?
- Do we have specific roles on the governing body (eg) Chair and do those that undertake them understand and fulfil those roles successfully? Consult our handy guides for help
- What skills does our co-operative's governing body need?
- do we need a scheme of delegation in place to enable the Board to focus on governing the organisation rather than day to day operations
Review & Plan
- Review your answers and make a list of the matters that should be addressed over the next six, 12, 18 months. Breaking tasks down into helpful chunks can make the overall task less daunting.
- Plan for and implement the changes highlighted.
Remember you are not alone. Co-operatives UK is here to help. We have a range of services to help sharpen and re-focus your co-operative governance. From governance healthchecks to Board skills audits we can work with your co-operative to address any governance concerns but most importantly highlight any issues that may suddenly result in risks becoming a reality.
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