What are the principles of good governance for leaders of trade associations?

Often those helping to lead a trade association on a Board, National Council or similar are volunteers as opposed to employees.

If the volunteers are Directors of the registered company then there are legal responsibilities that come with that role.

But for those who are officers, committee leaders or volunteers in other capacities is there a code or principles that will help guide them in their role?

We believe that the Nolan Principles (sometimes called the 7 Principles of Public Life) fit the bill. Created by Lord Nolan in 1995 on the establishment of the Committee on Standards in Public Life these principles are:

1. Selflessness

Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.

2. Integrity

Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

3. Objectivity

Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

4. Accountability

Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

5. Openness

Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

6. Honesty

Holders of public office should be truthful.

7. Leadership

Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

These 7 principles are equally applicable to associations and federations as they are to those in public office.

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