- Because the Board has responsibility for the organisation, it also needs to be accountable to its members, present performance information, answer questions about the organisation’s performance, and accept possible consequences if expectations aren’t met
- The board will also have accountabilities to external organisations, like regulators, and who this is will depend on the organisation’s legal structure and types of activities it undertakes
- Having policies, and procedures helps the Board or Committee fulfil this job
The Board or Committee is accountable to members because it works on behalf of members. compliance and risk management ARE critical, but so is running the organisation so that it does what it set out to do each year, and is being seen to be doing what it said it would do.
Accountability is demonstrated in a number of ways. Good meeting minutes clearly communicate Board decisions. Reporting annually to all members is another tool as this gives the Board the opportunity to present the annual financial information, update on key activities and milestones, outline arrangements with other parties that are helping the organisation meet its purpose, explain how compliance and risks are being managed, and how the organisation is tracking toward its plans into the future.
It is important that communication about the organisation’s performance is accompanied by details – information that explains the actions, decisions and results that are happening and that mechanisms exist for members to ask questions about how the organisation is run. Being accountable also means that there are consequences if organisational performance expectations aren’t met.
Boards may also have additional accountabilities to regulatory bodies and so it’s important to understand what external accountability obligations exist too.
Another area to consider is ensuring that the social, ethical and environmental impact of all activities are acceptable. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria are fast becoming a hot issue in many boardrooms that are now looking closely at how to devise and operationalise their ESG strategies to achieve sustainable value creation.
To boost your accountability, have clear policies, procedures, keep good records, have complaints and whistleblowing policies, and be aware of your obligations to both your members and other organisations.
Want more? ... check out these resources
Factsheet – Institute of Company Directors – 2 minute read
Click on your home state to find out the laws about annual reporting which apply to you in this state-by-state factsheet.
Webpage - Australian Institute of Community Directors - 10 minute read
This is a more detailed webpage that explains what accountability and transparency are, as well as talks about the main ways a Board or Committee remains accountable including annual reporting, financial reporting and general meetings. It also lists five questions Board or Committee members can ask themselves to make sure they are on track with accountability.