John H C Colvin discusses how Company Directors will continue to advocate policy reforms and lift its service for the benefit of the “broad church” of its membership.
While in Canberra recently, I had the pleasure of meeting the new federal Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson, and took the opportunity to raise with him a range of important issues for business owners and directors of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including start-ups.
In addition to advocating policy reform in areas vital to many of our members in these sectors – including cutting regulation and red tape, easing the compliance burden and complexity of the tax system, reducing director liability, insolvency reform, dealing with the problems of employee share schemes and many other issues – I was able to inform him about the education courses, programs, events, services and information we provide to our members.
Billson, an untiring supporter of small business, acknowledged the important role Company Directors plays and we discussed ways in which we can work together to further support and advance the SME sector and, more generally, help create a more entrepreneurial culture in Australia.
As I discussed these issues with him and other ministers, I was reminded that so many of the issues on which we advocate have an effect on the whole gamut of our “broad church” of membership, from the largest listed companies to SMEs, business owners, not-for-profits (NFPs) and the public sector.
While it is sometimes suggested that issues like director liability are only important to the “big end of town” and listed companies, they are, in fact, highly relevant to all directors of all types of organisations, big and small. The director liability on insolvency is a good example of this.
Of course, we also advocate on issues that are specifically relevant to small businesses, NFPs or other particular segments of our membership. The purpose of our advocacy is to positively influence the legislative and regulatory environment in which all of Australia’s 2.2 million directors operate. That role is all the more important in the current tough economic circumstances.
For example, the last thing our members need in such times is excessive or poorly designed regulation making things even more difficult. Our strong push for a better, more efficient system of regulation, and the removal of unnecessary, redundant or excessive red tape, is therefore vital for every member, regardless of which sector they operate in.
We will continue to be very active in seeking to influence government, making submissions to various government inquiries and contributing to the policy debate across a range of issues of relevance to directors. I will also continue meeting ministers, both federal and state, and senior Opposition figures to ensure they are aware of our issues and to press our case for reform.
More generally, we want to ensure Company Directors continues to provide the best services and support possible for all members, whether it be our world-class director education courses, professional development, events and other learning and networking opportunities, the essential information we offer through our website, Company Director magazine and other publications, career advancement through Directorship Opportunities, or facilities such as our Member Lounges and Learning Centres. And, many of these are free!
We want to ensure we are doing the best we can to support, inform and help you to be the best director you can be. In other words, we want to provide you with real value, and in the process, help make you more valuable as a director.
Another important aspect of this is our director professional development (DPD) system.
DPD will not only assist in helping to lift the skills and capacities of our members, but also enhance their value in the eyes of boards looking to recruit new directors. It will also help raise the perception of member directors held by shareholders, the media, government and the general public.
Certainly, in my recent meetings with ministers in Canberra, the move to adopt DPD was singled out for praise and acknowledged as an example of the quality and increasing professionalism of our membership and the Australian director community.
It is important to remember that DPD credits can be earned in many ways, not just through our formal education courses or webinars. Points can be accrued by attending relevant courses, conferences and events provided by other professional organisations, or by coming to free events we provide – for example, attending the free Essential Director Update in your state will earn you 10 DPD units.
Informal learning from expert peers and advisers on governance and directorships – for example, at briefings or events – also counts. Similarly, you can add to your DPD tally by simply reading the Company Director magazine or other professional reading.
The DPD system is designed to allow members to complete their DPD requirements for free. (Please check the website or with your local member relations executive.) I hope that as it becomes better understood, the DPD system will be seen as a positive change by all members, regardless of which part of our “broad church” they come from.
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