Checklist: A trustee facing a conflict of interest

Trustees should abide by the collective responsibility of the board, says Mike Hudson

Mike Hudson
Mike Hudson

Some board members are appointed or elected because they represent the views of people from particular stakeholder groups such as users, regions and professional groups. These members can bring valuable insights from the groups they represent.

So what should they do when the interests of their electorate come into direct conflict with the interests of the whole organisation - for example, if closing a facility or service?

The law is clear: when entering the boardroom, their role as a trustee of the whole organisation is paramount. They can strongly argue the case of the group they represent and, if they genuinely believe that their viewpoint is in the organisation's overall interest, they can vote accordingly.

However, once a decision has been taken they should abide by the collective responsibility of the board. When possible, they should share the evidence that the board considered in coming to its decision with the people they represent.

They can also remind their electorate that while they will ensure the interests of that group will always be presented at board meetings, as trustees they ultimately have to take decisions in the interests of the whole organisation.

Governance Advice

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