Between January 24th and May 16th of 2016, a managing director at Jefferies International Limited shared confidential client information with his peers through the popular instant messaging app, WhatsApp. The intel included but was not limited to the client’s identity, the mandate, and fees Jefferies charged for their involvement in the transaction. Consequently, this director was forced to resign from Jefferies and faced €53,140 in penalty fees.
We at Global Governance Advisors (“GGA”) just completed work on our 6th annual Report on Governance Professionals Responsibilities & Remuneration, in partnership with the Governance Professionals of Canada (“GPC”), and observed the ever increasing impact that technology is having on the role of the governance professional in Canada. As part of our survey, we asked governance professionals to rate, on a 1-5 scale, the primary responsibilities in their role. Some of the highest ranked responsibilities included:
I have a daughter, and as the father of a young girl, I naturally worry about her future. How I might protect her; help her develop skills; and prepare her for a successful and fulfilling career? When I think about these things, I worry about what she might endure along her journey and how can I protect her from negative experiences like bullying and harassment? The reality is that, unless the two of us are employed in the same company or she is sitting on the same Boards that I sit on, I will rarely be able to protect her once she is an adult in the professional world.
It is 2016 and Wells Fargo had just “survived” one of the biggest scandals of the decade. The creation of millions of fraudulent checking and saving accounts in the names of clients who had not given their consent. This event resulted in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars and over 5,000 employees. A hit like this is not easily resolved or swept under the rug. But how? How did this company, one of the biggest banks in the world, dig itself into such a deep, expensive hole?
Human Capital Management or “HCM” is becoming an integral part of an organization’s stated priorities as they seek to successfully utilize their people to attain individual as well as organizational goals. In order to achieve this objective, organizations must view their employees as assets with value that need to be retained, as opposed to resources that can be exploited. HCM involves hiring, managing, training and retaining talented and high performing employees. While this has always been challenging, the adoption of technology has proven to be beneficial and essential in streamlining this process. Companies such as Workday and Ultimate Software have created software systems that Human Resources professionals have started to leverage more and more to manage their HCM challenges, below the executive level, in this ever-evolving environment. However, there is still a disconnect and lack of attention when it comes to leveraging technology to manage Executive level human capital.
There’s a slight spring in your step as you saunter to the door after a grueling, but productive 3.5-hour AGM. For the time being, your reality is a harmonious world in which your company’s board of directors and shareholders are in sync and the mystic rivers of communication are flowing openly. This world is built upon a foundation of trust - trust that shareholders’ give to their board of directors, because they hope that the board is doing what they can to protect their financial interests. Despite a universal standard of trust, every once in a while, a breach may cause a shareholder (or two) to go rogue. Rogue, activist shareholders may attempt to use their influence to bring change for or within the company.
Most of you should be (figuratively or literally) familiar with Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong,” and throughout history, this saying has been validated time and time again. Therefore, if you ever wonder if or when corporate governance should be considered important, the simple answer should be “ALWAYS.”
In 2011, Hewlett Packard (HP), was one of the most recognizable names in technology and at the forefront of the technological world. However, when the board decided to bring on a CEO with a spotted history, as well as relieve four other board members publicly, the company’s stock began to plummet. This entire fiasco could have been avoided if the board had practiced one very important skill. That skill is doing your due diligence.
Everything will change. If you come away with anything from this blog, it is an understanding that it is critical that Boards of Directors and Executives understand that to succeed in today’s business environment, they must take a giant leap and embrace the digital transformation. Boards and executives are facing a myriad of challenges and can only successfully address them by leveraging artificial intelligence, data analytics, and digital communications. Everything will change – how board members interact with each other; how they make decisions; how they address issues from governance to corporate social responsibility; how they recruit and retain high performance executive teams; and how they will communicate with both shareholders and stakeholders.