Margaret Casely-Hayford, Chair, Shakespeare's Globe – 2 February 2022
Margaret delivered a lecture as part of the Bristol Distinguished Address Series titled 'Trust and Governance: where to now?'
Trust and Governance: where to now?
The climate emergency and social inequality are profound and pressing problems, thrown into sharp relief by the COVID-19 crisis, that can only be solved if we harness the enormous potential of entrepreneurs, innovation and enterprise.
Margaret explains that the world needs business at its best – creating good jobs, helping to fix pressing problems and adding value to society. Three quarters of the UK public think business has a responsibility to protect the environment and the majority favour brands that do good in the world. But at precisely this point in history, trust in business is low and examples abound of poor governance leading not just to poor business outcomes but harmful damage to communities and the environment. We don't need to accept these outcomes as inevitable, but rather strive to do better in our boardrooms. Research shows that UK voters and consumers want business to do better.
How do we do better? Margaret says that this means freeing decision-makers in business to act in everyone's long term interests – combining traditions of good stewardship and responsibility with new ideas to meet the challenges of the 21st century. There is evidence that business in the UK has taken the lead in reforming its practices around purpose, but we need the statutes and policies to ensure these become the norm. Specifically, this means putting purpose at the heart of company law and the fiduciary responsibility of directors.
A small change in the law will make a big change in the world. It will allow businesses to make decisions in all of our long term interests, helping to create a fairer, greener future.