Checklist: How do US and UK boards differ?

By governance expert Mike Hudson

Mike Hudson
Mike Hudson

The latest annual survey of governance by the US non-profit organisation BoardSource shows that boards in the US and the UK are grappling with similar issues.

In both countries, people are striving to create more diverse governance by attracting more women, younger people and minorities to join boards and working to focus board meetings on strategic rather than operational matters.

Boards in the US have made more progress on the use of 'consent' agenda items to approve standard matters without discussion - 60 per cent now use them, compared with less than a third in the UK. But UK boards have made more progress on conducting board performance reviews.

The biggest difference is the expectation that US board members make donations to their organisations. Three-quarters of US organisations require contributions, whereas in the UK less than a quarter of board members are reported to be donors.

Looking to the future, US boards report growing use of phone and videoconferencing, whistleblowing policies and web-based communication for board members. These are matters that UK boards might be wise to consider.

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