BusinessPeople In BusinessOn the money with Gavin Hinks

On the money with Gavin Hinks

Those of you with a keen eye for this sort of thing will have noticed that the long running row between Standard Life and its former finance director Alison Reed has ended with Reed emerging much better off

Gavin Hinks, AccountancyAge

Standard Life has coughed up £1.36m to settle the legal dispute and £97,000
towards her legal costs.

Anyone who ever had any doubts that she had a case, can now put them to bed.
Reed clearly felt aggrieved after being ousted from the Scottish pensions and
insurance giant.

She had been hired to see the company through flotation in 2006 and took the
City by surprise just three months later when she resigned–a decision she made
clear was not her own decision.

It’s difficult to tell what really lay at the heart of this conflict because
both parties were reluctant to comment publicly.

Reed did indicate that a demand for compensation meant that it would ‘suggest
there is a reason to pay one,’ but little else emerged.

What’s clear, though, is that Reed wasn’t in the mood for backing down and
has proved beyond all doubt that she is one very tough lady. And that’s
something the business world lacks at the moment – tough, uncompromising women
who speak frankly and are honest about what they see, especially at the level at
which Reed was operating.

Perhaps male-dominated boards have difficulty with that. Perhaps the
temptation to close your mind and unfairly brand them as ‘difficult’ becomes,
well, difficult to resist.

That’s a sign of substantial weakness, a sign perhaps that things really need
seeing to. It will be interesting to see what happens to Reed. It would be an
enormous shame if people allowed the spat with Standard Life to colour their
opinion.

Gavin Hinks is editor of Accountancy Age

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