Corporate governance isn’t just for businesses legally structured as corporations. They’re a set of guidelines that the leaders have to go beyond execute effectively on well-developed strategic plans. They must also be accountable and fair to all stakeholders. Regardless of whether your business has one or many stakeholders–shareholders, employees, clients, students or the community–your company’s approach to governance will change over time and depend on your unique needs and context. But there are a few general principles that can be applied to any business, large or small:

Transparency is among the most crucial aspects of good corporate governance. Transparency is crucial for management and board members to be transparent to auditors, shareholders and the public about financial reports, accounting, major decisions and internal practices. This means that your business should make information about its environmental and social impacts easily accessible to anyone who may be interested.

Another aspect of corporate governance is setting clear roles and responsibilities for your board. This can be done by creating job descriptions for the board as well as its chairperson and vice-chairperson, committees, and their chairs or by creating terms of reference for directors in their individual roles. This will ensure that there are clear boundaries and limits to authority, as well as a standardised set of responsibilities. It can help to foster a culture of collaboration and open communication and help to reduce mistakes and ensure compliance with law. It can also provide more opportunities for growth as your company expands and diversifies.

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