FTSE100 chairmen back renegotiation of European Union membership
Almost four in ten (39%) chairmen responding to the survey said they want Britain to remain part of the EU unconditionally, while over half (52%) want it to do so only if certain aspects of the relationship are renegotiated. Just 9% said they wanted Britain to leave the EU.
The findings mark a shift in the direction of support for unconditional membership. In July 2014, 81% of chairmen responding to the Boardroom Pulse believed that Britain should renegotiate its relationship with Brussels and just 15% backed staying unconditionally.
The findings also paint a dismal picture of the Shadow Cabinet’s traction with British business, with 30% of respondents believing the composition of the Shadow Cabinet – and in particular the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer – is “very damaging” for business, and a further 55% believing it was “worrying”. 9% were neutral on the issue and 6% believed the Shadow Cabinet’s composition was positive for business.
One chairman stated that, “Labour has turned down a path that seriously threatens UK business. If they become more electable, business would be damaged”. Another suggested that, “If Corbyn and his Shadow Cabinet ever got into power, it would be catastrophic for business”.
Regulation is the issue affecting UK PLC that business leaders would most like the Government to address, cited by 36% of respondents. Infrastructure-related issues also feature prominently, with respondents citing airport capacity and the need to address “poor delivery of infrastructure”. The affordability of housing in London was also cited as a particular issue, with one respondent suggesting that if not resolved, it could result in significant discontent amongst young people in the labour force.
Dominic Schofield, senior client partner with Korn Ferry’s board practice, said, “Support for remaining in the European Union remains strong at the highest levels of British business, as does support for the Government’s business credentials over those of the Shadow Cabinet. Business leaders still have significant issues they believe the Government should address, however, with regulation and infrastructure delivery high on the list.”
The issue of gender diversity on UK boards was also covered in the latest Boardroom Pulse.
Chairmen were extremely positive about the impact that greater gender diversity has had on the functioning of their boards.
One chairman noted that, “Boardrooms are more balanced and thoughtful with healthy female representation, but the difficult questions still get asked, possibly with a more diplomatic approach.” Another said, “The macho culture&hellipis dampened down by women in the boardroom” and that “women approach problem solving from different angles to most men.” A third suggested that greater female representation has brought “a more diverse set of views on key issues and improved boardroom dynamics resulting in improved outcomes” and another claimed that it had resulted in “better board behaviour and a more mature rounded response to issues.”
Schofield added, “Chairmen overwhelmingly found that having more women on their boards has had a positive effect on boardroom behaviour and effectiveness. Some made the point that increased female representation on boards is providing more role models for women further down the company structure, which is encouraging. We are beginning to see companies focus on encouraging diversity of all forms from an earlier career stage and aiming to identify and develop future leaders from a broader pool of talent.”
The Boardroom Pulse was created in 2012 to give FTSE 100 chairmen a collective voice on the topical business and governance issues of the day and to offer a real-time insight into the boardrooms of the UK’s most powerful companies.