I had earlier posted about the Chartered Director test prescribed by the Institute of Directors in London, which is a qualifying examination for directors on corporate boards. In response, one our readers from Australia, Susie Reece Jones, has been kind enough to provide us with some details about the situation in Australia in this regard.
In Australia, there is almost a de facto pre-requisite that a director seeking board membership should have completed the Company Director’s Education Program with the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). Whilst the program is not mandated, it is considered appropriate that directors have taken and complete the course. Membership of the AICD helps directors as well. The directors’ education course can be undertaken part- or full-time and encompasses a multitude of subjects including, but not limited to, corporate law. The course culminates in an examination for candidates. There are regular and frequent follow up courses (as the AICD website suggests) and these are generally well patronised. The demand for such courses also stands enhanced given increasing liability implications for corporate directors, and the need for awareness of possible risks and mitigating factors (such as directors’ and officers’ liability insurance policies).
On a more general note, Australia also has a strong talent pool of independent company directors. Board seats are indeed hard to obtain, as large public companies undertake a rigorous and transparent recruitment process for independent directors. There is also a focus on recruiting women on corporate boards (although not mandated by law), but this has yet to become the norm on Australian boards.
It is useful to look at such instances in other corporate governance regimes as the Indian corporate fraternity continues to set and improve its own best practices.