It is with great sadness that the IBE records the very sudden death of our colleague, Peter Montagnon, yesterday, June 25th.
Peter Montagnon was a much valued colleague and friend to all of us at the Institute of Business Ethics.
He joined the IBE in September 2013 after an illustrious and fascinating career at Reuters, FT, ABI and FRC as movingly described by Tony Tassell in his FT obituary on June 28th.
The plan for him to join us was hatched in late 2012 when Peter casually mentioned he was looking to move from the FRC to ‘write more’. We were happy to offer him the opportunity to do so and to further the IBE’s aim of aligning business ethics (how business is done) with corporate governance through the board agenda.
His contribution to our work and raising the IBE’s profile in this area has been immense, including introducing a new Board Briefing series to IBE’s range of publications. His 10 publications and collaboration on others (listed below), are testament to his capacity as a knowledgeable, thoughtful and engaging author, always delivering near print ready copy!
His most recent publication was only launched on June 4th Corporate Ethics in a Digital Age. It has been particularly well received, adding a useful perspective for those in the boardroom considering technology and AI related decisions. His recommendation was to look at these through a ‘risk management’ lens considering the ethical risks based on the company’s values to maintain corporate control and not be deterred by a fear of the technology itself.
Another area, to which he brought his thoughtful and challenging approach to bear, was in the IBE’s response to consultation papers. For instance, in response to BEIS’s Green Paper on Corporate Governance in 2016, he countered the reminder that ‘limited liability’ is a privilege, with ‘if that is the case, it could be taken away’. In interviewing Peter on this point, the Today Programme referred to it as the ’nuclear button’. Peter didn’t disagree!
Only last week Anthony Hilton in his article on June 25th picked up on Peter’s suggestion about excluding persistent poorly governed companies from the FTSE Index, as referenced in the IBE’s response to the FRC Stewardship Code consultation and that to Kingman’s FRC Review as well. Potentially another ‘nuclear button’ but as ever, Peter’s aim was to encourage thinking outside of the box, promoting debate and seeking new solutions.
Peter has left us all a legacy of thought to continue the ethics and governance debate with integrity, to challenge our own assumptions, and to do so always with fairness in mind. As the debate continues, we should stop occasionally and ask ourselves, ‘what would Peter have said?’.
In the IBE team he was held with much affection and was often the life and soul with his wit, wisdom and self-deprecating manner. His dry sense of humour came out in his amusing stories. Most recently these involved his experiences whilst canvassing during the May local elections, including chatting to two potential voters in his ward, only to be quietly informed they were police officers on surveillance duties. Our office banter is poorer now.
Many of the lovely tributes to Peter we have received in the office talked of his mentoring and the support he so freely offered, which we echo also. We all benefitted from his wisdom and he enriched our lives in so many ways.
We recognise it was our luck and privilege to have known and worked with him.
Our thoughts are with Isabel, Giles, Tamsyn and their children, whom we felt we knew from his anecdotes and his famous screensaver photo (annually updated) of them all cheerfully sitting together on a particular wooden fence.
This Board Briefing offers both practical advice on how remuneration committees can address the challenge and some pointers to possible reform centered around the need to be clear about the value of what is being awarded and the pace at which remuneration is earned. Fairness and simplicity are the two themes which run through this publication.
10 Feb 2016
This Board Briefing sets out why directors need to be actively involved in setting and maintaining a company’s ethical values and suggests some ways to approach it. It aims to help directors define their contribution to the maintenance of sound values and culture.
21 Jul 2014
Other IBE publications
The Institute of Business Ethics: the next thirty years is the result of a survey of opinion leaders to help identify the IBE's priorities for the coming period, the current business ethics climate and the future challenges to business in regaining trust.
27 Oct 2016
The idea of having a committee dedicated to the task of overseeing culture and ethics is relatively new. This survey report is intended to benchmark what is happening in the UK, providing a valuable insight into how companies are approaching the task.
09 Mar 2016
This report looks at the ethical challenges facing pension fund trustees - ranging from fiduciary duty, investment decisions and conflicts of interest to employing consultants. It poses at twelve key questions which pension fund trustees need to ask to help guide them in making sound decisions, and offers answers that, by applying an ethical approach, aim to cut through the uncertainty and help trustees make the right decisions.
29 Oct 2014