What NEDs mean for business trust

Article by Paul Drechsler – Chair of the NED Awards Judges

Being a board director is not for the faint-hearted. But if society is to put its trust in business as a force for good, people need to trust the leadership in business.

From time to time significant media attention is given to company failures that have resulted in lost jobs and failing communities. We should not lose sight of the fact that the total number of those failures is very small in an extremely large and diverse universe of companies. But we can use these headlines as a reminder of the importance of independent minds, of boards challenging strategy as much as supporting managers.

There are many reasons to be very proud of board governance in the UK. We have developed and we operate to some of the highest standards in the world – and non-executive directors play a vital role within this.

A good NED will show just as much commitment to the success of the business they are part of as their executive colleagues. They will have spent the time and effort to understand the business inside and out. But as they also provide an alternative, experienced perspective of the external factors affecting the company, their value is ever more clear when competition is tough and the political and economic environment is so uncertain.

I believe that to be a Non-Executive Director is an honour and a privilege. But it brings with it an immense duty and responsibility to all in society because we all depend on business success; employees, suppliers, customers, local communities as well as shareholders. So it’s only right that NEDs’ contribution is recognised. In highlighting what the best of the best looks like, we can bring clarity, transparency and awareness to what all companies should look for in those they appoint.

For the second year running, I am chair of judges for the Non-Executive Director Awards. They were established in 2006 by Peel Hunt to recognise the achievements of NEDs who contribute daily to the success and growth of businesses and not-for-profit organisations across the UK.

Among others, previous CBI Presidents Sir Roger Carr and Dame Helen Alexander have held this role before me. Helen was a kind and brilliant advisor to me while I worked at the CBI, and it’s fitting that she is remembered in one of the award’s categories: the NED to Watch Award.

Other categories reflect the broad range of businesses NEDs contribute towards –whether in the FTSE 100 or a public service organisation. And our diverse panel of judges follows a thorough six-stage judging process to ensure the winners for all categories are chosen in an impartial manner.

The nominations for the 2020 Non-Executive Director Awards are now open. If you know a Chairman, Senior Independent Director or NED that has made all the difference for the company or companies they’re involved in and, in turn, the people that work for them or they serve, you can do so anonymously at https://www.nedawards.co.uk/nominate.

Paul Drechsler

Chair of the NED Awards Judges

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