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A simple definition of corporate governance

by Stephen Conmy on Aug 16, 2022

definition of corporate governance

A simple definition of corporate governance is ‘the management of an organisation at the highest level and the systems involved’. Good governance is primarily the responsibility of the board of directors, however, you don’t have to sit on a board to work in corporate governance. 

What is corporate governance?

A much more detailed definition of corporate governance is given by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

In 2021, the ISO published a new standard, ‘The ISO 37000:2021 Governance of Organisations — Guidance’, which says: “Good corporate governance not only fosters an environment of trust, transparency and accountability, it also helps align an organisation’s purpose with the interests of society, building strong stakeholder relationships while effectively managing and maintaining its resources. In this way, good governance lays the foundation for the long-term success of organisations. It ensures they contribute to protecting and restoring social, economic and natural environmental systems.”

What do corporate governance professionals do?

Globally there is an increased demand for people with corporate governance skills. Many corporate governance professionals sit on the boards of organisations. However, you don’t have to be a board member to work in corporate governance. 

Typical corporate governance job functions include:

  • Maintaining and updating the governance framework.
  • Monitoring compliance with framework requirements.
  • Coordinating meetings of the governance committee and board of directors.

Corporate governance professionals often handle specific business processes, such as maintaining operational procedures manuals and analysing monthly reports.

Fulfilling the requests for information from board members will be a big part of any corporate governance role. Facilitating the flow of information is another critical component. Managers, board members, and committees need access to crucial data. 

Qualifications in corporate governance 

Corporate governance professionals come from various backgrounds, and their primary degree isn’t necessarily significant; their understanding of corporate governance matters.

While some employers may only require a bachelor’s degree, others will seek a certified qualification in corporate governance, like the Diploma in Corporate Governance. 

Having three to five years of legal, governance, or business experience is typically desirable. In addition, previous board experience and strong organisational skills may be necessary.

Corporate governance skills

Aside from education and previous work experience, employers want people who can think critically, who are super organised, who can keep confidentiality and who are detail-oriented.

A corporate governance professional interacts with a broad range of people, including executives, board members, and external stakeholders. Forging and maintaining relationships, as well as solid communication skills, are essential.

Salary information

As of August 2022, a corporate governance manager in the UK can earn between £40,000 – £70,000 a year. In the US, salaries for governance professionals are typically $80-100k.

For example, the job description for a corporate governance manager in the UK says: ‘The principal function is to manage the corporate governance framework in the UK and International subsidiaries including providing the “G” in ESG, looking at the impact of corporate governance reform, and supporting boards and committees as necessary.’ The salary for this role is £65,000 a year.

Further reading:

  1. The best governance training
  2. What skills do you need for the boardroom?
  3. How to join a board of directors and get paid

To discover more about becoming a governance professional you can download the course brochure for the Diploma in Corporate Governance below.

Download brochure
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