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How we made the New Boardroom Agenda for ICAEW


Our recent thought-leadership content series for ICAEW has transformed the way its members think about corporate management.

We collaborated with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales on a large multimedia content campaign that’s going from strength to strength.

At Sunday we’re lucky to have several professional membership organisations as clients, and what makes them all brilliant to work with on ‘big picture’ thought-leadership content is that their whole reason for existing is based on a strong social purpose. This means we can create films, podcasts and written content that has immediate relevance for a large audience, even if some of the more technical topics have niche appeal.

Many membership organisations in this country were set up in the latter half of the 19th century as the industrial revolution matured into a series of professions, such as law, medicine, surveying, engineering, accounting. These organisations were needed to record, codify and teach the advances made in each field, so that all professionals would work to the same high standard. They were given royal charters as the governments of the day realised the new and vital role they held, and assured a sceptical public that the company building the new rail bridge in the middle of town or the doctor operating on their nearest and dearest could be trusted.

Start with real life and join the dots

Whenever we embark on a new thought-leadership content series, we begin with real life – with stories and challenges that a lot of people can relate to – and then we join the dots back to whatever message the client wants to convey. This became The New Boardroom Agenda.

With this project, the ICAEW was keen to communicate that the accounting profession has a strong role to play in improving corporate governance (the way in which a company is structured and managed, or ‘governed’), and that the Institute was beefing up the support it provided to the profession, including the creation of a new position, head of corporate governance and stewardship.

In an initiative conceived by the ICAEW content team, we collectively decided to explore why long-term stewardship is vital to good management of companies, and the role that boards of directors play in doing so. Many ICAEW members either sit on boards, work with boards in their day-to-day roles or aspire to sit on boards at some point in the future. With this in mind, we designed a content series around three ‘hero’ films that showcased inspiring board members who think differently and who have prioritised long-term decision-making in managing their businesses. We chose both board members that have broken the mould – such as Karen Hester, chief operating officer at Adnams, who started her career at the brewer as a cleaner and is now an executive member of the board – and those with more traditional careers – such as Graeme Pitkethly, CFO of Unilever, an ICAEW member and holder of one of the most prominent finance jobs in the word – but all with a story to tell.

Alongside those films sits a raft of content including profile interviews, podcasts and a series of articles, as well as a set of in-depth practical guides to help boards – and the management teams that work with them – make the right decisions for the long-term.

So, how’s the campaign performing?

We have had some great results so far. We’ve had more than half a million views of the film content, and have re-energised the ICAEW’s corporate governance community by sending a series of email newsletters and social posts, and have seen a significant uplift in sign ups to the Corporate Governance community compared to the same period the previous year.  And we are only three themes into our series of five, so there’s more to come.

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