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Corporate governance lessons from Bell Pottinger

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The PR disaster that unfolded from Bell Pottinger’s behaviour in South Africa is a salutary lesson in corporate governance and how not to do it. Indeed, an independent report by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills stated that senior management had failed to put in place appropriate safeguards that would have alerted them to what staff were doing.

You may be thinking that corporate governance is a highfalutin term applicable only to multinational businesses, but actually it’s simply the responsibility of all organisations, large and small, to behave properly (legally and morally).

For all business leaders, the challenge of corporate governance is significant: overseeing and monitoring the behaviour and output of staff, ensuring that company protocol is followed, catching any rogue activity before it happens, not to mention managing the information flow around the business…it can be a full-time job (witness the growth of the compliance industry).

While omniscience may not be achievable for senior managers, there are ways to make it easier to have oversight of key functions and information within your business and dramatically reduce the chance of a major slip-up.

One crucial aspect of corporate governance is keeping your wider team informed and up-to-date so that everyone is on the same page. Rogue behaviour or misinformation malfunctions often happen as a result of an information vacuum, so a central resource which everyone can access easily makes a huge difference.

We believe that an app is invaluable for performing this function. Communicator is designed to be ‘your company in your pocket’ as it enables you to share company news, create staff training modules, centrally store logos, images, video content etc., as well as carry out employee surveys and much more. Particularly useful for businesses with multiple sites or lots of remote workers, Communicator acts as an important ‘glue’ to create a watertight team and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

One of the most difficult aspects to monitor can be the sheer volume of documentation being produced by staff.  Reports, presentations, evaluations, proposals, letters and more, it’s important that each item is up to scratch in terms of content, design and format, from the correct font and logo to the company information therein.

Again, an app is a great way to ensure you have eyes on everything. For instance, Presenter is a tool for managing all your sales and marketing materials, storing all materials centrally and enabling easy quality control as well as monitoring activity of your staff.  Review any new presentations which are created, see who’s editing what, regulate which templates are available, and have total command over the content of all the materials produced, all at the swipe of a screen or click of a mouse.

Corporate governance is not about being Big Brother, but it is about accountability and oversight. There will never be a failsafe system but if any good can come out of the Bell Pottinger debacle, it must be that other businesses take a fresh look at their systems and see where improvements can be made.

If you’d like advice on how our apps can boost compliance and governance in your business, please contact us via info@companyapp.co.uk.

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