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Government proposals for a more trusting, transparent economy

In the wake of the economic downturn, much has been made about how trust has been damaged in the business community and for its leaders. To address the central question of how to rebuild trust, the business secretary Vince Cable has recently set out proposals to improve corporate transparency and director accountability.

His discussion paper 'Transparency and Trust' outlines measures to promote growth by 'improving confidence in the UK as an open and trusted place to invest and do business'.

The proposals include making company ownership more transparent through a central registry of owners and controlling shareholders, and by abolishing bearer shares and the use of nominee directors, both of which can be used to obscure the identity of business owners.

The paper also seeks to make company directors more accountable for misconduct or failure. Regulators would be given greater powers to disqualify directors in certain sectors, and allow courts 'to take more account of the social impacts of directors' actions'.

Other possibilities put forward include forcing disqualified directors to compensate creditors directly; offering a way back into business for negligent directors through training or education; and barring directors who have been disqualified overseas from holding similar positions in the UK.

Commentators say that the proposals are unlikely to become law this side of the 2015 general election.

Trust is at the heart of good workplace relations. Evidence shows that employees who trust their leaders and organisations are more likely to share ideas and information with each other, communicate better, and work more co-operatively. These employees are more likely to be satisfied with their job, more likely to stay on with their employer, and more likely to understand and support change.

Acas can help your organisation improve its levels of trust. It has put forward advice in its publication pdf icon Placing Trust in Employee Engagement [120kb], and offers practical training courses aimed at boosting trust and engagement, such as Skills for supervisors and those listed under Staff retention.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects page for more information.

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