As the Barbados economy continues on the road to recovery, the private sector is being told it will need to play a larger role in ensuring accountability and trust.
This from officials of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Barbados Corporate Services during a directors’ breakfast session on Wednesday.
Regional Corporate Services Leader Ronaele Dathorne-Bayrd told the meeting the road to economic recovery would be a challenging one.
“Our private sector’s resilience will continue to be put to the test. Our boards and the management teams they oversee have an important role to play in setting the benchmark, leading the way in driving accountability and trust for the benefit of all owners and other stakeholders,” she said.
Results of PwC’s Corporate Governance Survey for Directors of Barbados companies were also shared at the event.
“We have a chance to make sure that this recovery is built on a strong foundation, one that inspires the confidence of owners, other local stakeholders and international investors in Barbados. This approach must also set the standards for the Government, public sector, legislators and regulators, reinforcing our demand for accountability, trust, independence of thought and a forward-thinking economy that faces emerging risks in a proactive manner,” said Dathorne-Bayrd.
“We have to set these goals for ourselves. This survey helps us understand how our business leaders view their performance, and what areas we need to improve on. We believe is a very good place to start,” she said.
The survey found that majority of boards in Barbados were being led by chairpersons who did not hold a management position. In fact, 82 per cent of respondents confirmed that their boards were led by non-executive chairs.
PwC said while there was a general satisfaction regarding with chairpersons’ performance, directors were concerned by how they chose to challenge executives such as managing directors and chief executive officers on important issues including past failures and future challenges.
A release from PwC Wednesday evening said respondents “overwhelmingly acknowledge the value of diversity, but little action is being taken to bring change”.
Seventy-six per cent of respondents were male, reflecting the boardroom composition in Barbados.
The survey revealed that boards were worried about cybersecurity and natural disaster risks but felt ill prepared to handle them.
Only 40 per cent confirmed that company escalation policies existed and only 26 per cent confirmed participation in crisis management scenarios.
“Awareness is there, but ownership and responsiveness are lacking, as is the drive to hold management accountable in these areas,” said the release.
Sixty-two per cent of respondents said the issues of plastics, marine pollution and climate change should be taken into account when forming company strategies.
“Governance ultimately asks boards to govern management in a manner that allows for striking the right balance between accountability and the encouragement of enterprise. This is invariably a difficult balance to strike,” said Dathorne-Bayrd.
“Our private sector has to accept the mandate of driving the right behaviours in their own companies, and just as importantly, in Barbados generally. This makes sure that accountability and ethical behaviour are demanded at every level of society, both private and public. We have to drive the pressure to create a business environment of trust and accountability, rather than waiting for an international body to determine that we’re not getting it right,” she explained.
She recommended the use of a “more modern view of governance that is less check-the-box”.
She said it should instead, “focus on real action within a sensible governance framework, that is founded on forward thinking, long term value creation and that sets the standards for how Barbados moves forward”.