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Alison Kay, Group General Counsel and Company Secretary at National Grid, and Victoria Whyte, Company Secretary at GSK, joined our FTSE350 breakfast to share their thoughts on one of the key board questions of the day –“who are the board accountable to?”

As Vice-Chair and Executive member of the GC100 group respectively, Alison and Victoria drew on the 2018 GC100 Group report (Guidance on Directors’ Duties: Section 172 and Stakeholder Considerations) as they explored directors’ responsibilities and section 172 of the Companies Act 2006.   

As in the past, directors continue to be duty bound to “promote the success of the company”, typically considered to be long term value creation –but in these times of disruption, both economic and political, can long term success only be considered an accumulation of short term events?

And if so, as the architects of these events, directors must be prepared to be firmly, and harshly judged with 20/20 hindsight, by an increasingly informed population of stakeholders; from activist investors to regulators.

In this paper we summarise insights from the event which include a director’s responsibilities with regard to taking proportionate action, identifying and balancing stakeholders, documenting the journey, culture and reporting ‘Who are boards accountable to?’