The Australian Institute of Company Directors held its second Australian Governance Summit in Melbourne early March 2017, and the sentiment was unanimous; shareholder primacy must make room for social cohesion. We spoke with the considered and well-respected triple 2015 Telstra Women’s Business Awards Winner Kate Thiele about good governance, leadership and how having clarity of purpose can help NFP and private sector organisations thrive where there is a healthy tension between profitability and social responsibility.

By Joanne Leila Smith

When the Chairman of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Elizabeth Proust, AO, delivered her opening address to Australia’s top 1,000 directors in Melbourne earlier this month, her message was clear – ‘the way we do business, can’t be the way we’ve always done business’. Unpacking this statement involved an acknowledgement of millennials now making up the largest proportion of the workforce and the kind of cultural shifts needed to accommodate a generation that seek out values-based organisations that offer more agile working environments over profitability, adopting a ‘speed over scale’ approach due to rapidly technological advancements, and most importantly, tackling public backlash against short-term thinking over long-term holistic planning.

According to Proust, business has never been more unpopular, institutions so distrusted and NFPs met with such deep public cynicism.

“It is not reasonable or credible to grumble that government doesn’t listen to the needs of business, if business isn’t acting as a partner in helping find solutions. We cannot point to government and say the problems and concerns being shown on the streets, at the ballot box, indeed even at some AGMs, are government’s problems to solve alone…Solutions need the engagement of all stakeholders, and to do that we need to take collective responsibility in hearing and addressing the valid frustrations and concerns that people share if we are to regain their trust… business does not operate in a vacuum. After all, society’s expectations change over time…so must those of businesses and organisations. The choice is whether we are at the fore of those changes and help shape them, or forced by regulation or legislation to comply with them. The choice is being part of the conversation, or being shut out from it altogether. We may

Kate Thiele – Clarifying Business for Purpose

The Australian Institute of Company Directors held its second Australian Governance Summit in Melbourne early March 2017, and the sentiment was unanimous; shareholder primacy must make room for social cohesion. We spoke with the considered and well-respected triple 2015 Telstra Women’s Business Awards Winner Kate Thiele about good governance, leadership and how having...


Jason Hincks, Joanne Leila Smith, INDVSTRVS, shared value, Karrikins Group

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