Private businesses are raising their game in governance reporting

Insights from PwC’s Building Public Trust Award 2018 for Reporting in Private Business, by Suzi Woolfson, PwC Partner


Privately-owned businesses can be categorised into three broad groups – family-owned businesses, partnerships and mutuals. Our shortlist for this year’s awards had one of each type of organisation, showcasing best-in-class reporting across all three categories.

As in previous years, we used a rigorous screening process to identify the shortlist. This included an assessment of the reporting from the Sunday Times “Top Track 100” ranking of UK private businesses, supplemented with a review of the UK’s largest partnerships and mutuals.

While we assessed each organisation’s reporting based on our established criteria – including the openness, transparency and accessibility of their reporting on strategy, risk management and societal contribution and impact – we placed particular emphasis this year on their reporting on corporate governance.

In recognition of the current public focus on corporate governance reform for private companies, we chose companies for the shortlist that all voluntarily apply a corporate governance code. All three businesses went beyond the regulatory requirements, demonstrating their commitment to putting strong and effective governance at the heart of their business and communicating it clearly to their stakeholders.  

However, while they all had this in common, the nominees differed widely in terms of size and complexity. Assessing the reporting from private businesses is made more difficult by their diversity, which often makes it hard to compare them directly. The judges were eager to give a special commendation to the family-owned business on the shortlist, feeling its reporting was particularly comprehensive and engaging for a company in that segment.   

More generally, the judges were impressed with the reporting from all three nominees. They all provided a strong articulation of their purpose and the societal contribution, and focused clearly on the stakeholders they were seeking to engage and address. And their reporting was frank and honest, including being open about areas where they had missed targets or could have done better.

Overall, our review and judging process for this year’s awards confirmed once again that the best reporting by private businesses would not be out of place in the FTSE. To read more about out what the leaders are doing right, please click through to read the judges’ comments.

And if you’d like feedback on how your private business scored in this year’s assessment, please feel free to get in touch by sending an email to:


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Suzi  Woolfson

Suzi Woolfson

UK Private Business market leader, PwC United Kingdom