December 5th, 2017

Peer learning helps social enterprise trustees get to grips with governance

Good governance was the focus of an event held last night by Social Business Trust (SBT) for trustees of social enterprises in our network.

Over 50 attendees from social enterprises including Brightside, The Challenge and London Early Years Foundation, were welcomed by Stephen Lambert, Partner, EY, who hosted the evening.

They heard Sir Richard Lambert (pictured), Chair of The British Museum and former Director General of the CBI, speak about the important role trustees play and the need to have diverse boards: “Diversity really matters. You want people around the table who will challenge you and bring different ideas,” he said.

Moving between breakout groups, trustees discussed topics such as: the role of the Chair; board reporting and management; and how to build effective relationships between trustees and the executive team.

Expert group facilitation was provided by: Caroline Mason, CEO of The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation; highly experienced non-executive directors Elizabeth Rantzen and Liz Meek; Andrew Studd partner in the charity and social business team at solicitors Russell-Cooke; and Andrew Hobbs, Partner and EMEIA Public Policy Leader at EY.

Key discussion points were highlighted by each facilitator at the end of the evening.  They included the:

  • Importance of building trust both between trustees and with the executive leadership team
  • Benefits of clear, simple, timely management reporting
  • Recognition that the perfect Chair does not exist and the need, therefore, for a Chair to delegate those things that play to the strength of other trustees

Adele Blakebrough MBE, CEO of SBT said: “Good governance is absolutely vital for a social enterprise to thrive.  It was great to have so many trustees join us to learn from each other and our experts. The room was buzzing as what can be a dry subject was brought to life.”