Wednesday 13 August 2008

Defending the Chief Executive

Whilst on holiday I was shocked to see that the Shaw Trust had summarily removed their CEO, Ian Charlesworth. A brief statement from them said he had been put on "gardening leave" and would then be leaving the charity. I was outraged when I saw this. Ian is a great CEO. He has led the Shaw Trust to a position of strength in the employment market and Ian's leadership has been behind that growth. He is widely admired for the way he has put the Shaw Trust on the map as an effective and professional body.

I have been speaking to Ian since my return as I regard it as one of the top priorities of acevo to defend its members, their reputations and their jobs. This is one reason I believe governance is so important and why I think we are often too complacent about good governance in the sector. The actions of the trustees in this case are unacceptable and I am happy to press release my full support for Ian and demand his reinstatement. I have also written to Andrew Hind at the Charity Commission in strong terms asking him to ensure a full investigation of the Trust. I was bemused to see a public statement from the CC saying that they would "address this like any other concern". So that's good to know; disgruntled of Tunbridge-Wells writes to complain about the poor quality toy bought in the Oxfam shop will get the same treatment as a major complaint about the Shaw Trust? Surely not. No favouritism I guess but one thing is for sure, I am on this case and I will be making sure the Charity Commission do investigate thoroughly. The papers I have seen show there is a major concern. And I want Ian reinstated, as the staff of the Shaw Trust do as well. Of course it is the staff who may lose out here. This action has been taken in the lead up to major tendering exercises. The timing could hardly have been worse. And Ian has been hugely successful in this area. The actions of the Director General of the Trust and the Chair and trustees will need close examination. So far they have failed to be transparent in their reasons for this action. They will have to be. They must be held to account publicly for their actions as trustees.

I have known Ian for many years and have huge respect for his gruff, no nonsense approach; which is combined with a clear strategic vision. He has been hugely helpful to aecvo in how we formulate policy on employment and welfare and on commissioning. He played a big role in the MacDonald enquiry into DWP tendering, he remains on the aecvo DWP task force. The Shaw Trust tried to replace him on the taskforce by someone else, but the unanimous view of the members was that Ian remains as a member and the Shaw Trust have been told they cannot send anyone.

Of course it's the personal side of these stories that hurt the most. Ian has put life and soul into the organisation and his reward is this shoddy treatment. A statement that he is on "gardening leave" , which obviously has pejorative overtones. He is deeply upset and hurt, but being Ian, I'm glad to say, is not going to take this lying down. And acevo will fight his corner, as we would for all our CEO members.

I'm also concerned at the wider implications for the sector. It is too easy for Chairs and trustees to act in this peremptory way. This has to be stopped, so I have asked my policy team to look at what we might propose to stop this sort of behaviour in the future. It cannot be right that a CEO has so little protection. I know there are employment tribunals, but this is a very blunt weapon for a CEO who has a strong commitment and involvement in his organisation and whilst maybe feeling sore does not want to harm the people they once led. So there must be a better way.

And I am also clear acevo needs to do further work in building good governance and strong Chair-CEO relations. We have developed a really effective governance review tool for members and their organisations. We will need to push this harder to try to build stronger governance. If you need to ensure a review of governance then act on it soon. You could get more information on this from acevo's Seb Elsworth.


Robert said...

Then why is it will all the money being spent so many disabled people are still without jobs, for god sake I get offered free trips free holidays free DVD players if I sign up with job brokers, we even had one given a government warning for sending out letters that looked like warning letters from the DWP. It stated if you fail to turn up for interviews your benefits will be reviewed, well perhaps in the future right now it's not compulsory.

I lost my legs in an accident at work, no legs, I went to the shaw trust and was offered jobs as a builder, Laborer , window cleaner, taxi driver with words like they cannot refuse, which is rubbish of course they can refuse.


I reported the Shaw Trust through it's on line report, then wrote to it, then phoned it to be fobbed off with words like sorry nobody in the office.

People with disabilities see the Shaw Trust and Remploy as poor quality job providers, I'm now back with the job center.

The problem is the words profits have reached new levels of incompetence within this sector.

Anonymous said...

Shaw Trust is a not for profit organisation, all profits made are pumped back into nationwide projects to help many different people from disadvantaged backgrounds. See the web page for examples of the work that is done there.

Of course some people will leave dissatisfied with some elements of a service but the Shaw Trust in my experience has assisted many thousands of people into work. There are other projects at the trust like supported employment that may have been more of a benefit to give extra support in the workplace.