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:
- Keeping of Board/Committee meeting minutes;
- Setting Board/Committee meeting agendas;
- Acting as a governance liaison for the Board and management;
- Reviewing and improving Board effectiveness; and
- Maintaining corporate records.
Governance professionals also reported spending the most time on Board and Committee meeting preparation and support, liaising with Board members and assisting management in preparing Board presentations.
The areas providing the biggest influence include the review and implementation of corporate governance practices, review and improvement of Board effectiveness and the review and selection of Board portal and other governance support technology or solution providers.
What is a common theme around all of the responsibilities and areas of influence highlighted above? Each of them has been impacted by the greater use of technology in recent years. This observation is further reinforced when we asked governance professionals about their use of technology. 94% reported the use of Board portals with 74% reporting the use of technology in conducting board surveys.
The reason for this is quite simple as technology allows professionals to be more efficient in performing their role and is more secure than following a manual process. What used to consist of physical copies of corporate records in a filing cabinet can now be securely uploaded to a secure document repository for board members to access at any time on their laptop, smartphone or tablet. Meeting agendas can be created in minutes and modified in just a few key strokes based on feedback from the meeting chair with related documents uploaded and tied directly to that meeting for ease of mark-up and review by board members as opposed to mailing out large, heavy board packages weeks in advance. Meeting minutes can be taken directly in the platform and saved, removing the need for shorthand. Built-in transcription capabilities can also act as a way to streamline the meeting minute taking process.
Technology also improves the Board Evaluation process by allowing board members to securely complete their questionnaire online with the reporting of results provided to organizations in real-time. This compares to having to collect physical responses from board members and then manually compiling the results by hand before. Even better, with the right software platform governance professionals can be provided with market leading pre-populated questions that all boards should be asking around their performance so they do not have to start from scratch.
The role of the governance professional is constantly evolving with greater demands on one’s time. Technology can act as a powerful enabler by making transactional responsibilities such as the keeping of meeting minutes, setting of agendas and administration of board evaluations much less time consuming and more secure. The technology adopter is a professional who can play a more strategic role in improving upon an organization’s governance practices and acts as a trusted liaison for the Board and management. This is a win-win for organizations and governance professionals as a whole.
For more information on the results of the 2019 Report on Governance Professionals Responsibilities & Remuneration and to request a copy of the report, please click here.