Board Talk: Your Cultural Legacy as a Non-Executive

We hope that you will enjoy this edition of Board Talk. We are delighted to share insights from Rachel Hubbard, Consultant in our Board Practice. Rachel brings 15 years of expertise working with purpose-led organisations across the social impact space and has a keen interest in good governance. Here she shares her perspectives on how culture plays a critical element in the long-term success of any business and asks how board leaders consider culture as an important agenda item.


Major disasters including war have changed things dramatically, and with them have come significant cultural change previously unthinkable.  We entered the 2020s arguably with some alarming similarities to the changing environment we were facing in Britain one hundred years ago. A transition era around our relationship with Europe and the rest of world;  the huge benefits and significant challenges of technological advancement and the full impact of our global interconnectivity debilitating our well-being and future prosperity from other parts of the world, through a global health crisis and nationalistic ambition.

And what implication does this have for the leadership and decisions made by Boards? New Strategies; use of the word transformation – responding to challenges that pile one on another to create resilience – and even perhaps for some, entrepreneurial growth in a crisis. And what about culture? Clearly responding to and anticipating the headwinds, whatever they might be is vital but where does ownership for culture sit and what effect does culture have on an organisation’s ability to weather crises effectively? Does your Board discuss culture? Or is this viewed as solely the domain of the executive team? Could it be that the past two and a half years have taught us that culture is a central component of the ability for an organisation to succeed and therefore an essential part of the environment in which every decision is taken and in which each discussion is held?

Saxton Bampfylde’s Board practice advise boards about the benefits and risks associated with the quality of leadership and the breadth of the views and experiences of those around the board table. Recent events have led to complications for organisations in the hiring and retention of talents which can have far-reaching and serious impacts on the overall health of an organisation.

We are fully aware of the power of the consumer, and have recognised the power of the customer voice – even those who have much less choice about where their money is spent – but the realisation of the power of our staff is now more powerful than perhaps at any time in the past, particularly in light of digital. If unrecognised, the wrong culture can be toxic.

A Board might be addressing technology issues, the business model, the advances of competitors, the changing needs of customers, as well as looking at the remuneration or flexible working arrangements for employees, but should they also be asking themselves: is our culture creating somewhere where our people and therefore the business thrives?

We are privileged to undertake Board Reviews for a wide range of organisations and from those, and the conversations that we have informally with non-executives on a daily basis, we have put together some thinking for Boards, about this issue:

  • Does your board recognise the value of culture?

  • Are you confident that the culture would withstand a crisis?

  • Do Board members live the culture we want to have?

  • Does culture feature in the discussion on how decisions are made?

  • Are we open and accountable and are enough stakeholders’ views considered? How easy is it for those outside the Board room to see how decisions are made? Is this a risk area for us?

  • Are the importance of the values, culture and behaviours in the boardroom and through the whole organisation articulated well enough?

  • Does our staff group have confidence in us as a board when it comes to culture?

  • Is reward seen to be linked with embodying culture and values as well as wider KPIs?  This might be thinking recognition, not just remuneration.
  • Are we, as a Board, satisfied with the time and investment in measuring and evaluating the culture of the organisation and its impact on the long-term health of the business?

Board members are the stewards of an organisation for a period of time, and create the environment where many others will spend a large amount of their working hours, setting the culture for organisations present and future. They have a duty to the organisation, staff and customers to create a culture that goes beyond a good strategy and a sustainable business model, setting the tone through questions and agendas.

Find out more about our Board Practice


Leadership in the age of AI: CEO Breakfast with Doug Gurr, Director of the National History Museum

Sustainability Dinner with speaker James Cameron, Chair of Crown Agents

What will healthcare look like over the coming decade? Interview with Nigel Edwards

Middlesex University announces its new Vice-Chancellor

SafeLives appoints new CEO

Do the right thing: ESG in 2024 – Interview with Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Lamp House Strategy

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – Helen Buckingham, Nuffield Trust

New GPhC Council members appointed for 2024 and 2025

RICS senior governance appointments

An Independent Mind: Sharpening the role of a law firm NED

CLCH appoints new Director of Strategy, Partnerships and Integration

Into Film appoints Fiona Evans as new CEO

An evening for current and aspiring non-executives with Kenny Imafidon

V&A announces Director of Collections and Chief Curator

RNLI appoints new leader to take charity into third century of lifesaving

Erika Lewis appointed CEO at Connected Places Catapult

Alex Frazer Announced as the New Head of Bancroft’s

Sue Baillie appointed as Woldingham’s new Head

Royal Hospital School appoints new Head

The University of Manchester appoints Professor Duncan Ivison as next President & Vice-Chancellor

Championing the Mission – Interview with Jonathan Morgan

Quadrant Chambers appoints Sarah Longden as new COO

New Oasis Community Learning Chief Executive Announced

Rachel Kent made Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner

Steering the family business forward: Interview with Paul Drechsler CBE

Indhu Rubasingham appointed as Director of the National Theatre

Northumbria University, Newcastle appoints new members to Board of Governors

Professor Tom Crick joins DCMS as Chief Scientific Adviser

Norwich Theatre appoints Tom Sleigh as new Chair

MOSL announces Cliff Kamara as new Board member

Saxton Bampfylde welcomes Partner Hannah Scarisbrick back to the firm

Saxton Bampfylde ranked in Financial Times UK’s Leading Recruiters 2024

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation and Association Welcomes Martin Houghton-Brown as Secretary General

Royal British Legion Announces New Director General

English Heritage announces New Blue Plaques Panel Members

Paul Ridd named Director of Edinburgh International Film Festival

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra announces Lord Tony Hall as new Chair

Team Consulting appoints new CEO

UK Civil Aviation Authority Appoints Rob Bishton as the new Chief Executive

The Box appoints Rebecca Bridgman as Head of Collections and Programme

English Heritage appoints Dr Nick Merriman as its new Chief Executive

Breadth and depth: leading across the regulatory landscape

Who’s Moving in Healthcare – August-September 2023

Wise counsel: bringing an external perspective to Higher Education

Looking through a different lens: a scientific scope from academia to government

Outside In: Leveraging External Perspectives in Higher Education

Samori Gambrah announced as Chair for New Art Exchange

Chris Auty appointed as new Director at London Film School

Cherian Mathews appointed as new Chief Executive of HelpAge International

Dr Dave Smith takes helm as UK’s National Technology Adviser

Now Teach appoints new CEO

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – David Hare MBE, CEO of Independent Healthcare Providers Network

Dr Paul Thompson appointed as British Council Chair

Appointment of new CEO for GLF Schools

Bas Javid appointed new Director General of Immigration Enforcement

New CEO appointed for the UK’s national synchrotron, Diamond Light Source

University of Nottingham appoints new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for its Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Béatrice Butsana-Sita appointed new CEO of the British Red Cross

Michael Plaut OBE announced as new Chair of Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Will Gompertz announced as the Soane’s new Director

Who’s Moving in Healthcare – June-July 2023

Dr Ghazwa Alwani-Starr appointed as new COO at University of Bath

PA Housing announces five new non-executive members to join board

Storyhouse appoints new CEO: Annabel Turpin

Claire Wood Hill announced as new CEO of The National Brain Appeal

OnBoard Programme broadens the horizon for board membership

James Williams announced as the next Director of the Royal College of Music

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – Sam Jones

#7 Road to Recovery: Integration, inclusion and innovation in the Healthcare sector

Who’s Moving in Healthcare – April-May 2023

SCIS appoints new Chief Executive

Talk with Sir Stephen Wall to celebrate Pride 2023

Celebrating Volunteers’ Week 2023

Celebrating the Contribution of Trustees from Underrepresented Backgrounds to the Arts: Launch Event

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – Nick Costa, UK CEO at Ramsay Healthcare

Challenging Crisis: Learning lessons in Leadership – Charlotte Hill OBE, CEO at The Felix Project

#6 Road to Recovery: Integration, inclusion and innovation in the Healthcare sector

The Air Ambulance Service appoints new Chief Executive

New Director of Tate Modern appointed

BBC News announces new senior appointments

Hosting Panorama’s Global Researcher Conference 2023

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – James Tugendhat, CEO at HC-One

George Watson’s College announces New Principal for August 2024

Iain Conn to chair EngineeringUK

Eunomia appoints sustainability change-maker as inaugural CEO

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra appoints new CEO

Build better places with people at the core: Interview with Neil Sachdev

New Director appointed at The Foundling Museum

Jesse Jones announced as new Artistic Director at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate

New Headteacher announced for Aylesbury High School

St Aloysius’ College appoints Patrick Doyle as Head of the College

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2023

Our future in our hands: creating lasting and shared prosperity for the nation

The anatomy of effective regulation leadership – Jonathan Morgan on The Regulation Podcast

Department for Business and Trade appoints new Chief Scientific Adviser

#5 Road to Recovery: Integration, inclusion and innovation in the Healthcare sector

Opportunity to thrive and responsibility to sustain: Interview with Richard Moriarty, CEO of the Civil Aviation Authority

Octavia announces the appointment of Stephen Jack as new Board Chair

Making Lemonade: regulatory leadership during challenging times

St John’s School appoints new Head