BOARD diversity, governance and funding were some of the challenges discussed at a large business leaders' lunch at The Capital yesterday.
More than 200 attended the Australian Institute of Company Directors event chaired by the institute’s Bendigo committee chairwoman, Leah Sertori.
Three Victorian business leaders - Rural Finance chairwoman Sonia Petering, Geelong Football Club director Diana Taylor and National Mental Health Commissioner Rob Knowles – led a panel discussion on what they see as the big issues for boards and directors in 2014.
Ms Petering said It was important directors keep an eye on changes in the social landscape as they had an impact on consumer behaviour.
“I think one of the key things a director could do is to scan the external environment, to understand what are the social and broad trends that are facing the organisation …and bring those insights back into the boardroom and into the discussions,” she said.
She said it was important boards had a diversity of thought, gender, experience, age and industry knowledge.
“If you’ve got a board that’s monocultural - mono gender or mono age - there is a blind spot that directors may not be able to see in terms of some of these emerging business models," she said.
Diane Taylor said the importance of governance was illustrated by the AFL's recent experiences and the need to “keep your brand strong and clean”.
Rob Knowles said recent transformations in the economy presented challenges and opportunities.
“Those of us in organisations that are particularly influenced by public expenditure, confront challenging times,” he said.
There was a “significant evolution” in the way government funds, he said, especially in aged care and the disability insurance scheme.
The relationship was changing from “funder and provider” to “funder and consumer.”
“I think that will present some particular challenges for those organisations who work in those areas,” he said.