ICD Releases Guidance on Culture Oversight for Boards

Oct 15, 2019
To guide directors in their role of overseeing corporate culture, the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) has released The Culture Imperative, a resource with insights on understanding, monitoring and measuring culture at the board level.

“Boards play a critical role in overseeing corporate culture,” says ICD President and CEO, Rahul Bhardwaj. “Several high-profile examples of reputational crises point to the critical importance of culture, but a recent ICD survey indicates that only one-third of directors have agreed on and monitor culture oversight measures. This is a sign that boards need to do more work in this area.”

The ICD gathered insights on culture oversight by hosting four cross-country roundtable discussions with experienced directors and governance professionals, in collaboration with the Governance Professionals of Canada, Mobilis Strategic Advisors and The David and Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation at the Rotman School of Management.

The ICD guide distils these insights into three key areas of culture oversight:
  • The interdependence of culture and strategy
  • Challenges in understanding your organization’s culture
  • Measuring and governing culture for effective ongoing oversight
“Directors need to understand that a strategically aligned culture can help build a thriving and sustainable organization,” says Françoise Bertrand, Chair of the Board at VIA Rail and a roundtable participant. “We can’t be ‘noses in, fingers out’ about culture, especially as the war for talent heats up. The younger generation wants to work for organizations where culture aligns with their values.”

In addition to sharing the perspectives of various participants, the guide provides 12 concrete actions boards can take to better oversee culture – such as creating opportunities for the board to interact with non-management employees and to ask questions about the organization’s culture, and understanding compensation structures below senior management and how they align desired behaviours with the strategy.

View the guide.

Pre-reading for ICD course on board oversight of culture

The Culture Imperative is also on the pre-reading list for the ICD’s limited-run course, Board Oversight of Culture.

About the ICD
The Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) is a not-for-profit, member-based association representing Canadian directors and boards across the for-profit, not-for-profit, and Crown sectors. The ICD has more than 14,700 members and 11 Chapters across Canada and fosters the sharing of knowledge and wisdom through education, professional development programs and services, and thought leadership. ICD members across all sectors of the economy oversee well in excess of $1 trillion in market capitalization and institutions that impact the lives of virtually every Canadian.