In my last post, I promised I’d turn my focus to the Trustee in the Stewardship Trust agreement. As a reminder, the Trustee is the entity entrusted to run a Stewardship Trust on behalf of the Company. The Company is the collection of Stewards (employees), which we should not conflate with the assets or activity (the business) of the Company. In all practical terms, the Trustee is the Stewardship Council a new body that will be the primary focus of the next article. However, before we get to that, I should first explain the concept of the Corporate Trustee. A Corporate Trustee is essentially a company that acts as a Trustee. Using corporate trustees produces several benefits, but the most useful one to focus on is analogous to a firewall.
As you read this article, your computer, or phone, is connecting to a router somewhere on which there is (hopefully) a firewall. You will usually be completely unaware of the existence of the firewall as traffic passes through it uninterrupted. However, should a malicious website try to infect your device, the firewall will hopefully detect the infected packets of information and block them. The firewall can also act in the other direction, preventing your children from accessing undesirable content.
For this reason, the Stewardship Trust has only one actual Trustee, a Corporate Trustee that acts as a firewall to the Stewardship Council. Many existing companies can be engaged to provide such a service, but Stewardship Trusts are a new concept. So we needed a new company to be that firewall – one that understood the purpose behind a Stewardship Trust. We created Egisly to promote greater Stewardship and, as a Not-For-Profit Company Limited by Guarantee, being a Corporate Trustee for Stewardship Trusts fits comfortably in its wheelhouse.
Egisly was formed, knowing one of its purposes is to act as a Stewardship firewall for Stewardship Trusts. Its constitution insists that, where it operates as a Corporate Trustee for a Stewardship Trust, it delegates almost all decision making powers to a Stewardship Council. It forms an independent Stewardship Council for each Stewardship Trust for which it is the Corporate Trustee. The ‘almost all’ hints at its role as the firewall. Just like your router firewall, almost all traffic passes through unimpeded. Further, as almost all of the work involved in being a Corporate Trustee is delegated to Stewardship Councils it is a very scalable model and allows Egisly to act in such a way for any organisations considering the Stewardship Trust model.
Anyone attacking the Trustees of a Stewardship Trust has to target Egisly, which is the only Trustee. In this way, it protects the corresponding Stewardship Council from many of the jeopardies facing Trustees. In return, it ensures that decisions made by the Stewardship Council are legal, enforceable, and in keeping with the terms of being a Stewardship Trust. What it doesn’t do is make any decisions concerning the Stewardship Trust itself – that power it delegates to the Stewardship Council. Again, just like a firewall doesn’t browse the web for you!
This added, but necessary, complexity means that the Stewardship Council is formed and maintained by Egisly rather than the Stewardship Trust. For that reason, the Egisly constitution makes it clear how that process works. In particular, it ensures that two-thirds of any council is made up of members of the Stewardship Trust. Specifically, one third is made up of directors (executive councillors) and one-third of non-executive members (steward councillors). The final third is made up of entirely independent councillors, one of which Egisly appoints to act as a Chair to support the council and ensure that the ‘firewall’ knows what is going on.
As a Corporate Trustee, it is vital that Egisly is transparent about its values and motives so that the Trust can be confident it is in the right hands. That is why the articles on this website are so important. Not only do they explain the concepts of Stewardship Trusts to anyone interested in pursuing greater Stewardship in their own companies, but they also act as a public declaration and commitment to a series of principles and values on which Stewardship Trusts, and their Stewards, can depend. As a Corporate Trustee, Egisly is not an owner of the Trust in any form, instead, it has clear fiduciary responsibilities to the Trust. In a very real way, Egisly acts as a Steward to the Trust, caring for it and protecting it. It uses Stewardship Councils to ensure that care is effective.
The Stewardship Council will be the focus of the next article. However, the Koderly Stewardship Council is already in operation and preparing for the day when Koderly joins the very first Stewardship Trust – the Koderly Stewardship Trust.