Exporting director training and good governance

For some markets, achieving a level of familiarity is going to be easier than others. If the target market is within a far-distant or developing country, then local business practices may not reflect Western approaches in areas such as corporate governance. Some countries have, over generations, developed practices that rely on locally controlled codes of conduct around business transactions. Navigating these can be extremely tricky, and for some, the risks of getting it wrong aren’t worth the reward.

Governance is one area where the UK is considered ‘world-leading’ in our attitude and approach. Thanks to Britain’s reputation in this field, there is a growing demand across the globe for British expertise to be exported to countries looking to have greater involvement in the global economy, as well as establish trading partnerships, and take advantage of foreign investment opportunities.
 
The IoD runs one of the few dedicated professional director development programmes in the UK. Delegates who complete both the programme and associated exams achieve the status of Chartered Director. 

Around 6,000 course places are filled every year, not just in the UK but also overseas supported by local training partners. It’s interesting to see how Western values and corporate governance principles can be applied to very different cultures to support business growth in emergent markets.
 
Companies from across the world, including parts of Asia, Russia, Continental Europe and the Middle East, have come to the IoD to train their directors to understand their fiduciary duties and governance best practice. Indeed, understanding these are relevant to both private and, in some countries, state-owned companies, and ultimately should improve international investor confidence.   

Each market is different and the training is adapted accordingly – in Russia, it included areas such as shareholder activism and the process of replacement of state officials on the boards of Russian state-owned companies. 

More recently, we have been invited to create a training/evaluation initiative for directors in Chile, and plans are afoot to export it across Latin America. The invitation came from the Chilean organisation BOARD Institute for Corporate Governance & Strategy – an organisation backed by Universidad Adolfo Ibañez and Universidad Diego Portales, and Ernst & Young Chile. The decision to run the IoD programme followed recognition from board members, senior managers, and Investors from Chile and other Latin American emerging economies, as to the growing number of opportunities and challenges arising from rapidly globalizing markets for capital, products and labour.  

The work of the IoD’s training team aims to help overcome the limitations imposed by existing offerings of corporate governance best practices, as well as provide support and training techniques and tools for directors across the globe, thereby hopefully helping to create new opportunities for British businesses overseas.

Dr Roger Barker is Director of Corporate Governance and Professional Standards at the Institute of Directors

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