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News December 2017 A sharper UK Corporate Governance Code to achieve long-term success and trust in business

A sharper UK Corporate Governance Code to achieve long-term success and trust in business

05 December 2017

Today the FRC publishes proposals for a revised UK Corporate Governance Code (PDF) to reflect the changing business environment and help UK companies achieve the highest levels of governance. The Code is shorter and sharper and builds on the findings from the FRC’s Culture Report published in 2016. The revised Code focuses on the importance of long-term success and sustainability, addresses issues of public trust in business and aims to ensure the attractiveness of the UK capital market to global investors through Brexit and beyond.

The revised Code sets out good practice so that the boards of companies can:

  • Establish a company’s purpose, strategy and values and satisfy themselves that these and their culture are aligned;
  • Undertake effective engagement with wider stakeholders, to improve trust and achieve mutual benefit, and to have regard to wider society;
  • Gather views of the workforce;
  • Ensure appointments to boards and succession plans are based on merit and objective criteria to avoid group think, and promote diversity of gender, social and ethnic backgrounds, cognitive and personal strengths;
  • Be more specific about actions when they encounter significant shareholder opposition on any resolution, including those on executive pay policies and awards; and
  • Give remuneration committees broader responsibility and discretion for overseeing how remuneration and workforce policies align with strategic objectives.

Sir Win Bischoff, Chairman of the FRC, said,

“The UK is globally renowned for its corporate governance framework, which is underpinned by the UK Corporate Governance Code. At this critical time and as the country approaches Brexit, a revised Code will be essential to restoring trust in business, attracting investment and ensuring the long-term success of companies for members and wider society. We have engaged with many stakeholders and incorporated suggestions from the Government’s Green Paper on Corporate Governance Reforms, to produce a Code which is shorter and sharper and fit for purpose.”

“A Principle promoting the importance of the intrinsic value of corporate culture is a new addition to the Code. Building trust in business has to start in the organisation and forming a healthy corporate culture is integral to the credibility of a company. Engaging with and contributing to wider society must not been seen as a tick-box exercise but imperative to building confidence among stakeholders and in turn the long-term success of a company.”

Business Minister Margot James said:

“Firms that are alive to the concerns of their workers and shareholders see the benefits on their bottom line and the Financial Reporting Council’s proposals will ensure our largest companies benefit more from the experience of their workforce, suppliers and customers."

“This will ultimately help them to achieve long-term success by strengthening corporate accountability and build on our reputation as a world-leading business environment – a key foundation of our Industrial Strategy.”

The revised Code is built on an updated set of Principles emphasising the value of good corporate governance to the sustainable growth of a company. By applying these Principles, following the more detailed Provisions and using associated guidance, companies will be better able to report how their governance structure contributes to its long-term success and achieves wider objectives. The Code is supported by the revised Guidance on Board Effectiveness. The consultation also includes questions to inform the future direction of the UK Stewardship Code, which will be published for consultation in late 2018. 

Responses to the consultation should be sent to codereview@frc.org.uk by 28 February 2018.

Appendices

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