Being a company director requires much more than simply knowing the law, says David Doughty.
In the 1870s, company directors were not very highly regarded. In 1871 Temple Bar magazine refers to them as “Guinea pigs” – “the pleasant name for those gentlemen of more rank than means who have a guinea and a copious lunch when they attend board meetings”.
This derogatory term for a board member persisted. In 1895, AJ Wilson said: “A man who lives by getting himself placed upon the Boards of a number of companies whose business he can have neither the time nor the qualifications to assist in directing, is a ‘guinea pig’.”
For thoughtful journalism, expert insights on corporate governance and an extensive library of reports, guides and tools to help boards and directors navigate the complexities of their roles, subscribe to Board Agenda