There will be information chiefs around the world thumping their heads on their desks at the news that Hillary Clinton, the former US Secretary of State, never once used a government email account, instead favouring her own private server.

It doesn’t send a good message, when companies and other organisations are working hard to instil security discipline and regulatory and legal compliance needs into their staff, that a key member of the world’s most powerful government felt she could sidestep such matters.

Hillary Clinton

Hands up, Hillary. You didn’t follow email policy, did you?

There are good reasons for keeping an organisation’s communications within accounts it controls. It can set the parameters for security, right down to how strong passwords should be. With suitable systems, lost or stolen phones can be locked, even wiped if they can’t be located. There can be irrefutable records of email exchanges that might be crucial to have access to for financial or legal reasons in the future.

Oh, and it’s also important to maintain the company image – even if you’re a country!

This is a two-way street. It’s not just for the good of the organisation. If an employee wants to demonstrate that they did everything they should have done, email trails are often the route to do so. It’s a form of protection for everyone who is doing things properly.

Mrs Clinton says, at this point, that the contents of her server will remain private, though the Government-related messages are to be made public once they’ve been through probably months of sifting. What that doesn’t account for is anything that has been deleted which might have been important, or might become relevant in the future.

There’s no ‘I’ in team

Someone slipped up by not making sure the correct secure government system was being used. They should have insisted upon it. Secretary of State of the United States or not, no-one is bigger than the team.

Of course, this being the USA, the matter is not over yet. Still seen as a potential candidate for the next Presidential race, this issue could be brought up again and again for Mrs Clinton, especially if anyone can dig up some scandal related to missing emails that she can’t produce.

For the ins-and-outs and for fans of US political comings and goings, this piece might make fascinating reading.

For everyone who runs a business, this is a salutary lesson about systems and training. Have a system in place to index and keep secure your company emails – we may be able to help and it doesn’t cost as much as you might think to implement. And staff policies and training go a long way to ensuring that your IT practices are part of the organisation’s culture.

Company communications are sacrosanct. For everything else there’s a personal email account.