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4 OCT 2021

GOVERNING COUNCIL PUBLISHES VALUES STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO LEVITT REVIEW

The Governing Council of RICS is publishing a statement setting out the values expected of the institution in response to the independent review conducted by Alison Levitt QC.

The statement, which commits RICS to far-reaching cultural change, is a key element of Governing Council’s reform agenda, alongside the commissioning of an independent review into governance, the introduction of a new whistleblowing structure and a shake-up of executive remuneration.

Governing Council accepted all 18 of Alison Levitt QC’s recommendations and is today providing a detailed update on the progress made in their implementation.

The values statement, published here (insert link), is intended to set the tone for the leadership’s vision, restoring pride in the institution and laying out the behaviour expected of all those who represent RICS in line with the forthcoming Rules of Conduct for Members and Firms. It identifies six key values:

  • Integrity
  • Transparency
  • Inclusion
  • Collaboration
  • Advocacy
  • Passion

Governing Council expects these values to be embedded into the organisation through agreed policies and actions, measuring their success through independent benchmarking, regular feedback and reporting against clear targets. Accountability, providing value for money, championing diversity and creating a sustainable future are integral elements.

Publishing the statement, which Council committed to do by September 30th, was one of Alison Levitt QC’s recommendations. Another recommendation was a public apology to the four NEDs who were wrongly dismissed, Amarjit Atkar, Bruce McAra, Simon Hardwick and Steve Williams, and to former members of Governing Council who had been improperly threatened with legal proceedings. These apologies were made privately, immediately before the publication of the independent review, and have now been made publicly by RICS (insert link).

Governing Council has also reaffirmed its determination to prioritise the establishment of the independent review of governance, purpose and strategy recommended by Alison Levitt QC. Council sees the work to be undertaken by this review as critical to the rebuilding of trust and confidence in RICS. To achieve this, Council is committed to a truly robust, transparent and independent process in which the views of members and other stakeholders will be heard.

Council will be working with Gatenby Sanderson to identify the best possible candidate for this work. Once selected, the reviewer will be invited to review and settle their terms of reference with Governing Council and appoint their own secretariat to support their work.

Governing Council believes these processes will be completed in time for this independent review to commence before the end of November.

Governing Council has also provided a timeline for its response to other recommendations:

  • A review into reward structures and levels for senior executives will be undertaken and a procurement process will take place to select the external advisers who will undertake it.
  • An agreement to deliver a best-in-class whistleblowing process is being drawn up with Protect, the charity which supports employees and businesses in raising concerns at work. A member of Governing Council will have ultimate responsibility for overseeing whistleblowing, with all investigations conducted by a third party, and the publication of an annual report and benchmarking against similar organisations.
  • Wide-ranging governance reforms are already under way ahead of the independent review. All minutes of Board and committee meetings will be shared with Governing Council, Management Board, Audit Committee and Standards and Regulations Board by the end of October. Management Board will now meet eight times a year, with members of the Presidential team excluded from meetings, and any member of a RICS board can now raise any matter directly with Governing Council.
  • No new instructions will be given to legal advisors Fieldfisher. A new framework is being drawn for procuring legal advisors and a tender process is expected to begin in January 2022.

Governing Council will provide further updates on its key recommendations at the Annual General Meeting on November 25th, which will be followed by regular updates.

Nick Maclean, Temporary Chair of Governing Council, said:

“Ethical culture and behaviour are at the core of RICS’s identity and we believe our new values statement will be an important step in restoring pride in our institution. However, we are aware that we will be judged by our actions, not our words, and that is why we felt it was important to give an update on our response to Alison Levitt QC’s recommendations, with a clear timeline for each one”.

Protect, said:

“Protect wants a world where no whistleblower goes unheard or unprotected. We are therefore very pleased to be working with RICS on their commitment to progress and to help demonstrate best practice with their speak-up arrangements”. 

ENDS

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