Boardroom Culture: An Argument for Compassionate Leadership

Charlotte Villiers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
365 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper I present an argument for introducing compassion into the boardrooms of large corporations. A series of corporate scandals and failures have led the UK’s government to investigate what has been going wrong in some large corporations. These investigations have identified destructive corporate cultures emanating from greedy and self-serving leaders in boardrooms. Problems in the economic and corporate system in which lack of trust is paramount point towards a need for change. Our economic landscape has also shifted from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy bringing about changes from industrial models and economies of scale towards a global, digital and more creative and changing economy that focuses on continuing innovation. The old ways of running a company are no longer appropriate and we require different skills and characteristics in our CEOs. Increasingly, it is becoming necessary to adopt a more compassionate way of running businesses. CEOs need to be more emotionally and socially intelligent. Compassion is a potentially progressive way forward in the world of business. It is already recognised in the medical world – the NHS has an embedded culture of compassion. Corporate actors might also learn from feminist ideals of caring and compassion that could provide direction for developing compassionate leadership models. Some progressive corporate leaders have shown the potential for successful alternatives. Already in law there is a recognised role for compassion in numerous fields which may signal some new approaches to be adopted in the company law and corporate governance context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-278
Number of pages26
JournalEuropean Business Law Review
Issue number2
Early online date23 Apr 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Apr 2019


  • Boardroom leadership
  • CEO
  • Compassion
  • Conscious capitalism
  • Corporate culture
  • Corporate governance
  • Feminist ethic of care
  • Servant leadership
  • Trust


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