This week before I begin our discussion on Governance, I wish to congratulate the nine calypsonians who will be joining King Dice on March 1, 2014 to determine who will be the Calypso Monarch 2014. I am perfectly satisfied with the judges’ decision. While I have heard or read persons arguing who should or should not be there, the competition was tight and I am pleased. Nadine Riviere provides a beautifully written description and analysis of the night. It is worth a read.
I remind you of the “Blow Your Horn Campaign,” organised by the Bureau of Gender Affairs, this coming Saturday, February 22, 2014. The Campaign leaves the Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard at 8:30am. We must all be part of this Campaign to sensitise and draw awareness of the effects of domestic violence on our society and to commit to eradicating it. It is also a call to protect our children.
This week, we look at Governance. I think this is very timely given our upcoming elections, the likely intense political race and more currently, all the calypso controversy. At the heart of it all, the issue is one of governance. Governance is defined as a “method, system of government or management.” In the other ways, it is about how organisations are governed, managed and operated. It is part of the cultural landscape of the organisation or nation; the way things are done here.
In recent times, Governance has taken centre stage as calls are made for good governance, greater transparency and accountability. What is this “good governance,” people are calling for? Is there a common understanding of the term? Is good governance only about transparency and accountability? Let us examine the concept a bit more deeply.
According to Governance Pro, there are eight elements of Good Governance:
- Rule of Law – there must be rules, which govern how things are to be done. In the context of a nation, the Constitution, other acts and policies provide the legal framework; for an organisation, policies, procedural manuals, codes of conduct, employee handbooks provide the legal framework, for non profit organisations the constitution and polices; for groups and clubs, constitutions and rules provide the legal framework. The legal framework is critical for it sets up the context for what is acceptable and not, what is right and wrong. It is meant to provide a level playing field for all. Rules can be changed, however, there has to be a process prescribed for that and the changes once made needs to be communicated to all concerned so that the level playing field is always maintained.
- Transparency – This is part of the last sentence above. It is not enough that rules are established. Rules and other relevant information must be communicated and easily accessible. The process of decision-making and outcome of decisions must also be available.
- Responsiveness – Organisations are meant to function in the best interest of their stakeholders and so must have systems in place to ensure that stakeholders voices can be heard as well as listened to.
- Consensus–Oriented – Consultations are important to obtain the views of the stakeholders and to provide an opportunity to inform policies and decisions of the organisation. This will then foster an environment whereby decisions reflect the best interests of the organisation and are implemented in a sustainable and prudent way
- Equity & Inclusiveness – The organisation is to provide equal opportunity for all stakeholders to have their say, to participate in the decision-making and to be part of the organisation, meeting their needs as well.
- Effectiveness and Efficiency – Decisions are to be made in the best interests of the organisation, however it must also make the best use of the available resources.
- Accountability – Without accountability, there can be no governance. Accountability is one of the key tenets of governance. People are accountable to stakeholders as well as to the rule of law. Accountability is likened to the steward giving account of his stewardship. What has been done with the talents entrusted to the decision makers? Those who have given good account will be called, “good and faithful stewards,” and those who fail, will be castigated and punished, and will be called, “Wicked and slothful.”
- Participation – Participation of all is encouraged and facilitated. Clear rules strengthen the participation.
Governance Pro claims that good governance is an ideal, which is difficult to achieve in its totality, however, I maintain that it is one, which we must continuously strive to achieve. It comes from a recognition and acceptance that when entrusted to lead a family, group, organisation or nation, one assumes a fiduciary responsibility, with a responsibility to serve in the best interests of those in one’s care. If this were recognized, there would be better efforts and success at good governance. It would not be a difficulty. It would be seen as the only way of governing. While the organisations may have several procedures to foster a culture and climate of good governance, it inevitably boils down to the individuals, for “there can be no good governance without men and women of integrity” (Henry, 2004).
Until we meet again, May the Lord continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands. Blessings Aplenty