Culture, it all starts in the boardroom


The subject of this episode of the Better Boards Podcast Series dealt with “Culture, it all starts in the boardroom”. Mike Gahir, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Steps to Work, spoke with Dr Sabine Dembkowski.

Mike Gahir

Mike was a winner at this year’s Non-Executive Director Awards in the UK as the ‘NED to watch’. He was praised by the judges for overhauling the leadership and transparency at Steps to Work.

The revised UK Corporate Governance Code places a great emphasis on the importance of culture within a business and is seen as a blueprint for corporate governance around the world.

Mike stressed the importance he himself places on culture in the work he has achieved so far.

Some of the key takeaways of the conversation included:

“Leadership need to reflect the culture.”

Just as strategy is decided at the board level, so too is the culture of an organisation. The board must seek to embody the cultural traits they wish to see replicated throughout the firm as if they speak of values they themselves do not represent, it will be hard for the culture to be implemented throughout the company.

“You need to be able to trust the people.”

Members of the board need to be able to create positions of trust within not just the board, but the company itself. They need to understand that people do no set out to perform badly at work and provide the best culture to encourage workers to show up each day and perform at their best. At the board level, members of the board need to be able to trust each other to share information and ideas. This will create a more transparent working environment which can then be implanted throughout the company.

“Find a mechanism to be able to deliver those type messages consistently.”

The opportunities to share messages that reinforce the desired cultured need to be taken. For the board to do this, they need to develop mechanisms that allow them to communicate with the individuals, departments, or offices throughout the company.

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