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How can the board encourage an open culture?

by Stephen Conmy on Nov 30, 2021

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Dr. Simon Mac Rory

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The board plays a significant role in fostering the right culture in a company. In this member’s session, Dr. Simon Mac Rory (CEO of The Odd Company) discusses the challenges boards face when encouraging members to speak up, if and when they see a bad company culture developing.

Key takeaways:

  • Simon discusses the topic of developing an open culture and how a board should hold executives to account if they don’t speak up.
  • Speaking up at work and having the freedom to speak up at work, is now essential in terms of good governance but also in terms of competitive advantage.
  • Closed cultures, where staff are not heard, can lead to disastrous results. [Examples included]
  • There has been a historic shift where organisations are creating an environment of psychological safety where people feel safe speaking up. These firms have very good competitive advantage.
  • Poor culture can have very severe financial consequences for an organisation.
  • Boards are responsible for all the behaviours in their organisation. This is what oversight of culture means.
  • People turn to social media when they experience bad company culture.
  • There is no place to hide from criticism these days.
  • As a board, you must look at any reported grievances, examine them. They will tell you an enormous amount about the culture of the organisation.
  • Non-executive directors need to understand that they must hold the executive to account. Having a ‘speak up’, open culture is part of this.
  • It is the executive’s job to ensure there is a good culture and it is the non-executive’s job to ensure the executives are held to account if the culture turns bad.
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