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The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has announced plans to force companies to list their true owners on a public register. The plans as announced would open to public scrutiny details of those shareholders with more than 25% of the voting rights; alongside a measure to scrap “bearer shares” which can change hands anonymously.
In announcing the plans, Vince Cable said that “for consumers, investors and the wider public to really trust a company they need to know who is really in charge,” adding “no longer will UK companies be able to use complex structures and trails of paperwork to hide information and keep the public in the dark.”
Complex structures, trails of paperwork; it’s not just company ownership which can confuse and mislead consumers and others. Every complaint which becomes lost in a maze of paperwork; every ‘not my job” response; every process which is designed with the company rather than the consumer in mind, signals an organisation with a poor company culture.
Limiting the use of corporations as directors, scrapping bearer shares, opening up share registers may help in untangling complex tax affairs or enabling consumers and investors to understand who really is ‘the power behind the throne’ in an organisation. But unless and until organisations shake up their culture to put ethics and people first, the “darker side of capitalism” will still prevail.