Définir l’intégrité au sein du conseil d’administration | Deloitte *


Quel est le rôle du conseil d’administration en matière d’intégrité ? Un récent document du Centre de la gouvernance d’entreprise de Deloitte montre comment l’intégrité constitue l’une des grandes responsabilités du C.A., comment on peut l’évaluer au niveau de l’organisation et, surtout, quel modèle les administrateurs peuvent adopter afin d’assumer leur fonction de surveillance de l’intégrité.

Ce court article sera sûrement d’une grande utilité aux membres des conseils. Vos commentaires sont toujours les bienvenus !

Définir l’intégrité au sein du conseil d’administration | Deloitte

« Un conseil d’administration efficace se soucie de l’intégrité tant au sein du conseil qu’à l’extérieur de celui-ci. Il donne l’exemple. Le conseil aide le chef de la direction à donner le ton en matière d’éthique au sein de l’organisation. De plus, il favorise et surveille le respect des lois, des règlements et des politiques propres à l’organisation. L’intégrité au sein du conseil d’administration est fondée sur des facteurs comme les valeurs organisationnelles, le besoin de respecter les responsabilités fiduciaires du conseil ainsi qu’une volonté de rendre des comptes.

English: The Deloitte Centre in Auckland City,...
English: The Deloitte Centre in Auckland City, New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

L’engagement envers une performance empreinte d’intégrité est largement reconnu comme étant un attribut indispensable d’une organisation. Toutefois, bon nombre de personnes et d’organisations éprouvent des difficultés à mettre cet idéal en pratique. Les structures et les pratiques de gouvernance des conseils doivent favoriser une culture d’intégrité dans l’entreprise en plus de promouvoir la responsabilité d’entreprise ainsi que les responsabilités environnementales et sociales. Le conseil d’administration doit aider à forger des relations de confiance à long terme avec les actionnaires, les clients, les autorités de réglementation et les employés.

Le rôle du conseil dans le maintien de l’intégrité consiste à travailler avec le chef de la direction pour donner le ton, comprendre les exigences en matière de conformité et fixer les attentes à l’égard de la haute direction qui sont ensuite transmises à l’ensemble de l’organisation. De plus, le conseil demande aux membres de la haute direction de rendre des comptes sur les résultats par rapport aux attentes fixées ».

* En reprise

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Quel est le cadre juridique du fonctionnement d’un conseil consultatif de PME ? *


Quel est le cadre juridique du fonctionnement d’un conseil consultatif de PME ? Voici quelques éléments d’information en réponse à une question souvent posée dans le cadre de la formation en gouvernance de sociétés.

Cette question a été soumise à la considération de Me Raymonde Crête, professeure de droit à l’Université Laval et de Me Thierry Dorval, associé de Norton Rose.

Je reproduis ici la réponse de ces deux experts juridiques en gouvernance :

Palasis-Prince pavillion of the Laval Universi...
Palasis-Prince pavillion of the Laval University, Quebec, Quebec, Canada, October 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 « Dans une PME, il est possible de créer un comité consultatif. Il n’existe pas de règles spécifiques concernant la création de ce type de comité. Les membres du comité consultatif ne sont pas, en principe, assujettis aux responsabilités qui incombent normalement aux administrateurs de sociétés, à moins qu’ils agissent, dans les faits, comme des administrateurs. Si les membres du comité consultatif agissent, dans les faits ou de facto, comme des administrateurs de sociétés, ils pourraient engager leur responsabilité, notamment en matière fiscale ou d’environnement. L’article 227.1 de la Loi de l’impôt sur le revenu impose aux administrateurs une responsabilité solidaire en cas de non-paiement de certains impôts. Pour éviter d’engager leur responsabilité, les membres du comité consultatif ne doivent donc pas exercer des fonctions analogues ou des pouvoirs similaires à ceux exercés par les membres d’un conseil d’administration, tels les pouvoirs décisionnels en matière d’émission d’actions, de déclaration de dividendes, etc ».

Concernant les responsabilités du conseil d’administration, vous pouvez consulter le document ci-dessous publié par Norton Rose.

Identification et gestion des risques que comporte le rôle d’administrateur de société

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Quelle est la valeur ajoutée d’un « conseil aviseur » efficace ? *


Ce texte publié par Barry Reiter, et paru dans Ivey Business Journal, explique très bien en quoi consiste un « conseil aviseur » pour une PME en développement. En quoi les entreprises trouvent-elles avantage à se doter d’une telle structure et, surtout, quels sont les étapes concrètes de sa création ainsi que les conditions d’un bon fonctionnement.

Cet article couvre vraiment tous les angles de l’établissement d’un « comité aviseur » et il répond aux questions que les entrepreneurs et les dirigeants d’entreprises en développement se posent eu égard à la valeur ajoutée d’un tel comité.

Bonne lecture. Vos commentaires sont appréciés.

THE ROLE AND VALUE OF AN EFFECTIVE ADVISORY BOARD

An effective advisory board, properly composed and structured, can provide non-binding but informed guidance and serve as a tremendous ally in the quest for superior corporate governance. This author, a lawyer with significant experience on boards of directors, offers a helpful blueprint for establishing an effective advisory board.

PM Harper participates in a question and answe...
PM Harper participates in a question and answer session with the Ivey Business School (Photo credit: pmwebphotos)

Nobody can build a great business alone, and whether it’s a start up or an established industry leader, having access to high-quality advice can enhance an organization’s odds of success. Entities seeking advice can obtain it from a board of directors, consultants or networks of one sort or another. Increasingly, attention is being given to advisory boards. This article discusses the role of these boards, how they should be structured and organized, and their value to an enterprise.

Why have an advisory board ?

Enterprises considering setting up an advisory board must answer a key question: “Why are we establishing an advisory board and what do we want out of it?” The enterprise may be seeking assistance with anything from marketing to managing human resources to influencing the direction of regulators. Thinking carefully about an advisory board’s purpose will ensure that it will be structured to maximize its contribution to an organization’s success.

Commitment of Management/Leadership

An enterprise that wants to have an effective advisory board must spend time determining the mandate of that board, recruiting members, addressing compensation issues, organizing for and orchestrating effective meetings, paying for the services of advisory board members and dealing with the other matters noted above. The commitment must come from an appropriate point in the enterprise. If the advisory board is set up primarily to advise the CEO, the CEO’s involvement must be obvious and constant. If an advisory board is set up to assist in science or marketing, an appropriate individual, one who is willing to lend his or her name to the recruiting effort and to spend the time required to address the other issues, must be identified from that group. An advisory board that senses that there is an absence of commitment (whether by virtue of poorly organized meetings, frequently cancelled meetings, a leader who cancels his or her own attendance at the last minute, advice that is not transmitted or is ignored) will quickly become ineffective, as members will not prepare for meetings, not attend meetings or will not apply the degree of rigour required to provide their best advice.

 

Un autre document très intéressant est le suivant : 9 Tips for Creating an Advisory Board

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Énoncés de principes de bonne gouvernance 2012 | Business Roundtable *


Voici un document publié par l’organisation américaire Business Roundtable qui est la plus importante association de PCD (CEO) aux É.U. et qui regroupe les plus grandes sociétés avec un total de $6 trillion en revenus annuels et plus de 12 million d’employés. Ce document présente le point de vue des hauts dirigeants de ces sociétés sur les pratiques de bonne gouvernance. Le rapport est représentatif de ce que les membres pensent que devraient être les pratiques exemplaires en matière de gouvernance. C’est une lecture vraiment très pertinente.

English: Corporate Governance

Principles of Corporate Governance – 2012

« Business Roundtable supports the following guiding principles:

First, the paramount duty of the board of directors of a public corporation is to select a chief executive officer and to oversee the CEO and senior management in the competent and ethical operation of the corporation on a day-to-day basis.

Second, it is the responsibility of management, under the oversight of the board, to operate the corporation in an effective and ethical manner to produce long-term value for shareholders. The board of directors, the CEO and senior management should set a “tone at the top” that establishes a culture of legal compliance and integrity. Directors and management should never put personal interests ahead of or in conflict with the interests of the corporation.

Third, it is the responsibility of management, under the oversight of the board, to develop and implement the corporation’s strategic plans, and to identify, evaluate and manage the risks inherent in the corporation’s strategy. The board of directors should understand the corporation’s strategic plans, the associated risks, and the steps that management is taking to monitor and manage those risks. The board and senior management should agree on the appropriate risk profile for the corporation, and they should be comfortable that the strategic plans are consistent with that risk profile.

Fourth, it is the responsibility of management, under the oversight of the audit committee and the board, to produce financial statements that fairly present the financial condition and results of operations of the corporation and to make the timely disclosures investors need to assess the financial and business soundness and risks of the corporation.

Fifth, it is the responsibility of the board, through its audit committee, to engage an independent accounting firm to audit the financial statements prepared by management and issue an opinion that those statements are fairly stated in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, as well as to oversee the corporation’s relationship with the outside auditor.

Sixth, it is the responsibility of the board, through its corporate governance committee, to play a leadership role in shaping the corporate governance of the corporation and the composition and leadership of the board. The corporate governance committee should regularly assess the backgrounds, skills and experience of the board and its members and engage in succession planning for the board.

Seventh, it is the responsibility of the board, through its compensation committee, to adopt and oversee the implementation of compensation policies, establish goals for performance-based compensation, and determine the compensation of the CEO and senior management. Compensation policies and goals should be aligned with the corporation’s long-term strategy, and they should create incentives to innovate and produce long-term value for shareholders without excessive risk. These policies and the resulting compensation should be communicated clearly to shareholders.

Eighth, it is the responsibility of the corporation to engage with longterm shareholders in a meaningful way on issues and concerns that are of widespread interest to long-term shareholders, with appropriate involvement from the board of directors and management.

Ninth, it is the responsibility of the corporation to deal with its employees, customers, suppliers and other constituencies in a fair and equitable manner and to exemplify the highest standards of corporate citizenship.

These responsibilities and others are critical to the functioning of the modern public corporation and the integrity of the public markets. No law or regulation can be a substitute for the voluntary adherence to these principles by corporate directors and management in a manner that fits the needs of their individual corporations ».

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Articles reliés au sujet :

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Suggestions en vue de renforcer la gouvernance des OBNL *


Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, un article publié par Dr Eugene Fram sur son blogue Nonprofit Management. L’auteur énonce plusieurs propositions susceptibles d’améliorer la gouvernance des entreprises, plus particulièrement des OBNL.

Ces suggestions sont issues des 40 recommandations que Richard Leblanc a récemment publiées à propos des entreprises cotées en bourse. (Voir mon billet du 12 juillet 2013 à ce sujet : Renforcement des règles de gouvernance | Une proposition de Richard Leblanc).

Voici donc les onze suggestions retenues par Eugene Fram qui s’adressent aux OBNL. Bonne lecture.

11 Ways to a Stronger Nonprofit Board

1. Reduce the size of the board

2. Limit director over-boarding

3. Increase the directors’ knowledge of the nonprofit’s field(s) of operations

English: Carol Chyau and Marie So, co-founders...
English: Carol Chyau and Marie So, co-founders of Ventures in Development, a nonprofit organization that promotes social enterprise in Greater China. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Enable directors to have access to information and to managers reporting to the CEO

5. Select directors who can contribute directly to the organization’s mission

6. Hold management accountable

7. Control management’s influence on director selection

8. Address conflicts of interest fully

9. Match management’s compensation with contributions to achieving mission, corporate performance and risk management

10. Stay on message when communicating organizational outcomes

11. Understand the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of replacing elected directors

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* En reprise

Evaluate your nonprofit from a funder’s perspective (fundraisinggoodtimes.com)

Non Profit Board of Directors Checklist (jasteriou.wordpress.com)

Getting the Nonprofit Board Recruiting Process « Right » (powerofoneconsulting.wordpress.com)

Nonprofits need to balance finance and mission (utsandiego.com)

Why Nonprofit Board Prospects Say No (hardysmithconsulting.wordpress.com)

What every nonprofit board needs to know (miamiherald.com)

Histoire récente de l’essor des investisseurs activistes | Conditions favorables et avenir prévisible ? *


Ce matin, je vous convie à une lecture révélatrice des facteurs qui contribuent aux changements de fond observés dans la gouvernance des grandes sociétés cotées, lesquels sont provoqués par les interventions croissantes des grands investisseurs activistes.

Cet article de quatre pages, publié par John J. Madden de la firme Shearman & Sterling, et paru sur le blogue du Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, présente les raisons de l’intensification de l’influence des investisseurs dans la stratégie et la direction des entreprises, donc de la gouvernance, un domaine du ressort du conseil d’administration, représentants des actionnaires … et des parties prenantes.

English: Study on alternative investments by i...
English: Study on alternative investments by institutional investors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Après avoir expliqué l’évolution récente dans le monde de la gouvernance, l’auteur brosse un tableau plutôt convainquant des facteurs d’accélération de l’influence des activistes eu égard aux orientations stratégiques.

Les raisons qui expliquent ces changements peuvent être résumées de la manière suivante :

  1. Un changement d’attitude des grands investisseurs, représentant maintenant 66 % du capital des grandes corporations, qui conduit à des intérêts de plus en plus centrés sur l’accroissement de la valeur ajoutée pour les actionnaires;
  2. Un nombre accru de campagnes (+ de 50 %) initiées par des activistes lesquelles se traduisent par des victoires de plus en plus éclatantes;
  3. Un retour sur l’investissement élevé (13 % entre 2009 et 2012) accompagné par des méthodes analytiques plus sophistiquées et plus crédibles (livres blancs);
  4. Un accroissement du capital disponible notamment par l’apport de plus en plus grand des investisseurs institutionnels (fonds de pension, compagnies d’assurance, fonds commun de placement, caisses de retraite, etc.);
  5. Un affaiblissement dans les moyens de défense des C.A. et une meilleure communication entre les actionnaires;
  6. Un intérêt de plus en plus marqué des C.A. et de la direction par un engagement avec les investisseurs activistes.

 

À l’avenir, les activistes vont intensifier leurs efforts pour exiger des changements organisationnels significatifs (accroissement des dividendes, réorganisation des unités d’affaires, modification des règles de gouvernance, présence sur les conseils, séparation des rôles de PCD et PCA, alignement de la rémunération des dirigeants avec la performance, etc.).

Ci-dessous, un extrait des passages les plus significatifs. Bonne lecture !

The Evolving Direction and Increasing Influence of Shareholder Activism

One of the signal developments in 2012 was the emerging growth of the form of shareholder activism that is focused on the actual business and operations of public companies. We noted that “one of the most important trendline features of

2012 has been the increasing amount of strategic or operational activism. That is, shareholders pressuring boards not on classic governance subjects but on the actual strategic direction or management of the business of the corporation.”… Several of these reform initiatives of the past decade continue to be actively pursued. More recently, however, the most significant development in the activism sphere has been in strategically-focused or operationally-focused activism led largely by hedge funds.

The 2013 Acceleration of “Operational” Activism

Some of this operational activism in the past few years was largely short-term return focused (for example, pressing to lever up balance sheets to pay extraordinary dividends or repurchase shares), arguably at the potential risk of longer-term corporate prosperity, or simply sought to force corporate dispositions; and certainly there continues to be activism with that focus. But there has also emerged another category of activism, principally led by hedge funds, that brings a sophisticated analytical approach to critically examining corporate strategy and capital management and that has been able to attract the support of mainstream institutional investors, industry analysts and other market participants. And this growing support has now positioned these activists to make substantial investments in even the largest public companies. Notable recent examples include ValueAct’s $2.2 billion investment in Microsoft (0.8%), Third Point’s $1.4 billion investment in Sony (7%), Pershing Square’s $2 billion investment in Procter & Gamble (1%) and its $2.2 billion investment in Air Products & Chemicals (9.8%), Relational Investor’s $600 million investment in PepsiCo (under 1%), and Trian Fund Management’s investments of $1.2 billion in DuPont (2.2%) and of more than $1 billion in each of PepsiCo and Mondelez. Interestingly, these investors often embark on these initiatives to influence corporate direction and decision-making with relatively small stakes when measured against the company’s total outstanding equity—as in Microsoft, P&G, DuPont and PepsiCo, for example; as well as in Greenlight Capital’s 1.3 million share investment in Apple, Carl Icahn’s 5.4% stake in Transocean, and Elliot Management’s 4.5% stake in Hess Corp.

In many cases, these activists target companies with strong underlying businesses that they believe can be restructured or better managed to improve shareholder value. Their focus is generally on companies with underperforming share prices (often over extended periods of time) and on those where business strategies have failed to create value or where boards are seen as poor stewards of capital.

Reasons for the Current Expansion of Operational Activism

Evolving Attitudes of Institutional Investors.

… Taken together, these developments have tended to test the level of confidence institutional investors have in the ability of some boards to act in a timely and decisive fashion to adjust corporate direction, or address challenging issues, when necessary in the highly competitive, complex and global markets in which businesses operate. And they suggest a greater willingness of investors to listen to credible external sources with new ideas that are intelligently and professionally presented.

Tangible evidence of this evolution includes the setting up by several leading institutional investors such as BlackRock, CalSTRS and T. Rowe Price of their own internal teams to assess governance practices and corporate strategies to find ways to improve corporate performance. As the head of BlackRock’s Corporate Governance and Responsible Investor team recently commented, “We can have very productive and credible conversations with managements and boards about a range of issues—governance, performance and strategy.”

Increasing Activist Campaigns Generally; More Challenger Success. The increasing number of activist campaigns challenging incumbent boards—and the increasing success by challengers—creates an encouraging market environment for operational activism. According to ISS, the resurgence of contested board elections, which began in 2012, continued into the 2013 proxy season. Proxy contests to replace some or all incumbent directors went from 9 in the first half of 2009 to 19 in the first half of 2012 and 24 in the first half of 2013. And the dissident win rate has increased significantly, from 43% in 2012 to 70% in 2013.  Additionally, in July 2013, Citigroup reported that the number of $1 billion + activist campaigns was expected to reach over 90 for 2013, about 50% more than in 2012.

Attractive Investment Returns; Increasing Sophistication and Credibility. While this form of activism has certainly shown mixed results in recent periods (Pershing Square’s substantial losses in both J.C. Penney and Target have been among the most well-publicized examples of failed initiatives), the overall recent returns have been strong. Accordingly to Hedge Fund Research in Chicago, activist hedge funds were up 9.6% for the first half of 2013, and they returned an average of nearly 13% between 2009 and 2012.

In many instances, these activists develop sophisticated and detailed business and strategic analyses—which are presented in “white papers” that are provided to boards and managements and often broadly disseminated—that enhance their credibility and help secure the support, it not of management, of other institutional shareholders.

Increasing Investment Capital Available; Greater Mainstream Institutional Support. The increasing ability of activist hedge funds to raise new money not only bolsters their firepower, but also operates to further solidify the support they garner from the mainstream institutional investor community (a principal source of their investment base). According to Hedge Fund Research, total assets under management by activist hedge funds has doubled in the past four years to $84 billion today. And through August this year their 2013 inflows reached $4.7 billion, the highest inflows since 2006.  Particularly noteworthy in this regard, Pershing Square’s recent $2.2 billion investment in Air Products & Chemicals was funded in part with capital raised for a standalone fund dedicated specifically to Air Products, without disclosing the target’s name to investors.

In addition to making capital available, mainstream institutions are demonstrating greater support for these activists more generally. In a particularly interesting vote earlier this year, at the May annual meeting of Timken Co., 53% of the shareholders voting supported the non-binding shareholder proposal to split the company in two, which had been submitted jointly by Relational Investors (holding a 6.9% stake) and pension fund CalSTRS (holding 0.4%). To build shareholder support for their proposal, Relational and CalSTRS reached out to investors both in person and through the internet. Relational ran a website (unlocktimken . com) including detailed presentations and supportive analyst reports. They also secured the support of ISS and Glass Lewis. Four months after the vote, in September, Timken announced that it had decided to spin off its steel-making business.

The Timken case is but one example of the leading and influential proxy advisory firms to institutional investors increasingly supporting activists. Their activist support has been particularly noticeable in the context of activists seeking board representation in nominating a minority of directors to boards.

These changes suggest a developing blurring of the lines between activists and mainstream institutions. And it may be somewhat reminiscent of the evolution of unsolicited takeovers, which were largely shunned by the established business and financial communities in the early 1980s, although once utilized by a few blue-chip companies they soon became a widely accepted acquisition technique.

Weakened Board-Controlled Defenses; Increasing Communication Among Shareholders. The largely successful efforts over the past decade by certain pension funds and other shareholder-oriented organizations to press for declassifying boards, redeeming poison pills and adopting majority voting in director elections have diminished the defenses available to boards in resisting change of control initiatives and other activist challenges. Annual board elections and the availability of “withhold” voting in the majority voting context increases director vulnerability to investor pressure.

And shareholders, particularly institutional shareholders and their representative organizations, are better organized today for taking action in particular situations. The increasing and more sophisticated forms of communication among shareholders—including through the use of social media—is part of the broader trend towards greater dialogue between mainstream institutions and their activist counterparts. In his recent op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal, Carl Icahn said he would use social media to make more shareholders aware of their rights and how to protect them, writing that he had set up a Twitter account for that purpose (with over 80,000 followers so far) and that he was establishing a forum called the Shareholders Square Table to further these aims.

Corporate Boards and Managements More Inclined to Engage with Activists. The several developments referenced above have together contributed to the greater willingness today of boards and managements to engage in dialogue with activists who take investments in their companies, and to try to avoid actual proxy contests.

One need only look at the recent DuPont and Microsoft situations to have a sense of this evolution toward engagement and dialogue. After Trian surfaced with its investment in DuPont, the company’s spokesperson said in August 2013: “We are aware of Trian’s investment and, as always, we routinely engage with our shareholders and welcome constructive input. We will evaluate any ideas Trian may have in the context of our ongoing initiatives to build a higher value, higher growth company for our shareholders.” Also in August, Microsoft announced its agreement with ValueAct to allow the activist to meet regularly with the company’s management and selected directors and give the activist a board seat next year; thereby avoiding a potential proxy contest for board representation by ValueAct. Soon thereafter, on September 17, Microsoft announced that it would raise its quarterly dividend by 22% and renew its $40 billion share buyback program; with the company’s CFO commenting that this reflected Microsoft’s continued commitment to returning cash to its shareholders.

What to Expect Ahead

The confluence of the factors identified above has accelerated the recent expansion of operational activism, and there is no reason in the current market environment to expect that this form of activism will abate in the near term. In fact, the likelihood is that it will continue to expand… Looking ahead, we fully expect to see continuing efforts to press for the structural governance reforms that have been pursued over the past several years. Campaigns to separate the Chair and CEO roles at selected companies will likely continue to draw attention as they did most prominently this year at JPMorgan Chase. And executive compensation will remain an important subject of investor attention, and of shareholder proposals, at many companies where there is perceived to be a lack of alignment between pay and performance. We can also expect that the further development of operational activism, and seeing how boards respond to it, will be a central feature of the governance landscape in the year ahead.

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* En reprise

Finding Value in Shareholder Activism (clsbluesky.law.columbia.edu)

The Corporate Social Responsibility Report and Effective Stakeholder Engagement (venitism.blogspot.com)

The Evolving Direction and Increasing Influence of Shareholder Activism (blogs.law.harvard.edu)

Shareholder activism on the rise in Canada (business.financialpost.com)

Dealing With Activist Hedge Funds (blogs.law.harvard.edu)

American Activist Investors Get Ready To Invade Europe (forbes.com)

Activist Investors Help Companies, Not Workers – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)

The Separation of Ownership from Ownership (blogs.law.harvard.edu)

Réflexions capitales pour les Boards en 2014 – The Harvard Law School (jacquesgrisegouvernance.com)

Shareholder Activism as a Corrective Mechanism in Corporate Governance by Paul Rose, Bernard S. Sharfman (togovern.wordpress.com)

Résultats de l’enquête portant sur « La gouvernance à l’ère du numérique » **


Les résultats d’une grande enquête ont été dévoilés en primeur aux 125 participants présents au Séminaire Gouvernance Express 2014 tenu le mercredi 19 mars au Sheraton Montréal sous le thème «La gouvernance de sociétés à l’ère du numérique».

Nature de l’enquête

Devant les enjeux associés à la transformation numérique des organisations, le Collège des administrateurs de sociétés (CAS) a lancé, en février dernier, une enquête afin de recueillir des données sur l’impact du numérique dans la gouvernance des sociétés et les effets sur le rôle et les responsabilités des administrateurs.

Méthodologie

Ce sondage a été administré par la firme BIP de Montréal auprès des diplômés de trois collèges de formation en gouvernance de sociétés soit le Directors College (Ontario), l’Institut Français des administrateurs (France) et le Collège des administrateurs de sociétés (Québec). Au total, 319 personnes ont participé à cette enquête, ce qui correspond à un taux de réponse de 20 %. Le questionnaire Web a été élaboré par un comité de travail dirigé par M. René Leclerc, diplômé du CAS, suite à une analyse des études récentes sur ce sujet et à une série d’entrevues effectuées par Expansion Stratégies auprès de dix leaders d’influence et administrateurs de sociétés*.

Le questionnaire regroupait des questions sur sept volets :

  1. le niveau de participation du répondant à des conseils d’administration,
  2. le profil de l’organisation dans laquelle le répondant est le plus impliqué à titre d’administrateur de sociétés,
  3. le degré d’utilisation des technologies numériques au sein du C.A. de cette organisation,
  4. le pourquoi du numérique dans cette organisation,
  5. l’implication du C.A. dans la prise de décisions en matière de numérique dans cette organisation,
  6. la perception du répondant, à titre d’administrateur, face au numérique et finalement,
  7. le profil technologique du répondant.

Sommaire des résultats de l’enquête

Plusieurs résultats très intéressants émanent de ce sondage. D’entrée de jeu, il est important de mentionner que la taille de l’organisation dans laquelle l’administrateur est le plus impliqué est une variable nettement plus significative que le genre ou le pays d’origine lorsque vient le temps de caractériser les perceptions et les comportements des répondants face au numérique.

The Price Building, in the old city of Quebec ...
The Price Building, in the old city of Quebec City. The building is the head office of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the official residence of the Premier of Québec (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ainsi, il ressort que, parmi les répondants qui agissent à titre d’administrateur au sein d’un C.A. faisant usage de technologies numériques (ou qui l’ont été récemment), 46 % d’entre eux fonctionnent sans papier. Il va sans dire que le taux d’utilisation des plateformes spécialisées par les conseils d’administration a beaucoup augmenté depuis l’arrivée des tablettes.

D’autres résultats percutants : 72 % des répondants actifs au sein d’un C.A. confirment que leur conseil n’a aucun membre possédant une expertise numérique et 56 % affirment que ce conseil s’implique dans les décisions numériques au moins une fois par année. De plus, 59 % de ces répondants affirment que les technologies numériques sont très importantes afin de permettre à leur organisation d`être plus productive, tandis que seulement 27 % de ceux-ci affirment qu’elles sont très importantes pour se démarquer de la concurrence. On remarque aussi que 88 % des répondants se disent personnellement actifs sur LinkedIn tandis que seulement 8 % affirment initier des discussions sur Facebook. Enfin, seulement 49 % des répondants qui sont actifs sur un C.A. affirment que leur conseil se soucie activement de la réputation de l’organisation sur les médiaux sociaux.

Globalement, le sondage montre très clairement que les administrateurs sont devant un paradoxe des temps modernes : ils manient aisément les outils numériques, mais ne se semblent pas se sentir aussi à l’aise envers les stratégies liées au virage numérique qu’envers celles liées aux enjeux habituels de gouvernance. De ce fait, le leadership du virage numérique et bon nombre de décisions qui s’y rattachent sont pris par la direction générale des organisations. Si on veut que les conseils d’administration augmentent leur pouvoir décisionnel ou s’arriment à cette nouvelle réalité, il y aurait lieu de sensibiliser et de former les administrateurs et d’intégrer de nouveaux administrateurs experts dans le numérique, conscients des enjeux qui y sont justement rattachés.

En accord avec les études récentes, le groupe de travail suggère les pistes d’action suivantes aux membres de conseils d’administration :

Prévoir que la concurrence, pour attirer des membres avec expérience numérique, va s’intensifier rapidement;

Bâtir une équipe numérique au CA qui est diversifiée;

N’attendez pas une crise numérique pour adapter le CA;

Effectuer des revues périodiques des enjeux technologiques;

Implanter des revues du portefeuille TI en appui au modèle d’affaires de l’organisation.

________________________________________________

*Le groupe de travail du CAS était formé des personnes suivantes :

Gilles Bernier, ASC, Directeur des programmes, Collège des administrateurs de sociétés

Alain Bolduc, ASC, administrateur de sociétés

Patrick Courtemanche, Vice-Président-Opérations, BIP

Jacques Grysole, Président, Expansion Stratégies, inc.

Lucie Leclerc, Présidente Directrice Générale, BIP

René Leclerc, ASC, Administrateur de sociétés

Dominique Maheux, Conseillère BIP et propriétaire de DataSapiens

À propos du Collège des administrateurs de sociétés

Créé en 2005 grâce à un partenariat entre l’Autorité des marchés financiers, la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, le ministère du Conseil exécutif du Québec et la Faculté des sciences de l’administration de l’Université Laval, le Collège des administrateurs de sociétés se positionne comme leader de la formation des administrateurs et représente le seul programme de certification universitaire en gouvernance de sociétés au Québec. Il contribue au développement et à la promotion de la bonne gouvernance de sociétés en offrant des formations reconnues et à la fine pointe des meilleures pratiques. À ce jour, le CAS a diplômé 590 ASC. Il est possible de consulter leur profil en visitant le www.BanqueAdministrateurs.com.

À propos de BIP

Le Bureau d’Intervieweurs Professionnels (BIP) figure parmi les plus importantes firmes de sondage au Québec. Fondé en 1976 et acquis en 1988 par la présidente actuelle, BIP et son équipe de 150 employés sondent près de 250 000 personnes et organisations au Québec, au Canada et ailleurs dans le monde. L’entreprise offre un service sur mesure ou complet de collecte (téléphonique, en ligne, via son panel, etc.), de traitement de données et d’analyse de recherche, tant pour la clientèle du secteur public que privé. Reconnu pour son savoir-faire dans les mandats complexes et variés, BIP offre une expertise unique et personnalisée. Sa réputation d’excellence depuis plus de 25 ans est fondée sur le respect, la rigueur et le résultat.

À propos d’Expansion Stratégies

Expansion Stratégies inc. est un bureau-conseil fondé en 1997 par Jacques Grysole, MBA. Sa mission est d’aider au développement à court et long terme de ses clients. Une analyse rigoureuse et précise, des plans stratégiques minutieusement préparés, des indicateurs réalistes de performance et un suivi méthodique sont au cœur de cette approche innovante. Expansion Stratégies inc. contribue au succès d’entreprises privées et publiques au Québec et œuvre dans plus de trente pays auprès d’organismes de développement économique et de grandes organisations de développement international. http://www.expansionstrategies.ca

______________________

** En reprise

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Dix leçons tirées d’une multitude d’entrevues avec des PCD de PME **


Quelles leçons peut-on tirer des entrevues avec les PCD (CEO) d’entreprises de petites capitalisations. C’est ce que nous présente Adam J. Epstein*, un spécialiste de « hedge fund » qui investit des centaines de millions de dollars dans les petites entreprises. L’article a été publié dans mc2MicroCap par Ian Cassel.

J’ai trouvé les conseils très pertinents pour les personnes intéressées à connaître la réalité des évaluations d’entreprises par des investisseurs privés. Qu’en pensez-vous ?

10 Lessons Learned from Interviewing Hundreds of MicroCap CEOs

1)    Preparation – there is no reason to waste your time and someone else’s by sitting down with a CEO to discuss their company without preparing – really preparing.  To me, “really preparing” doesn’t mean looking at Yahoo Finance for a few minutes in the taxi on the way to the meeting, or flipping through the company’s PowerPoint on your phone.  That kind of preparation is akin to walking up a few flights of stairs with some grocery bags to get ready for climbing Mt. Rainier.  To be really prepared for a first meeting means reading/skimming the most recent 10K, the most recent 10Q, the most recent proxy filing, the management presentation, any previous management presentations (more on this later), a recent sell-side company or industry report, and an Internet search of the management team’s backgrounds (with particular emphasis on any prior SEC, NASD, or other state/federal legal problems).  It’s hard to overemphasize how many would-be micro-cap investing disasters can be headed off at the pass by reading what’s said, and not said, and then having the opportunity to ask the CEO directly about what you’ve found.

Stream Near Mt Rainier

2)    Non-Starters – for better or worse, the micro-cap world is home to some “colorful” management teams.  After all of the time served in this regard, absolutely nothing surprises me anymore.  I have found CEOs who were simultaneously running 3 companies, CEOs who were banned from running a public company by the SEC, management presentations that were largely plagiarized, CEOs who shouted profanities in response to basic questions about their “skin in the game,” and CEOs who not only didn’t understand Reg. FD, but clearly didn’t even know it existed.  When in doubt, it’s much better not to invest at all than to make a bad investment; fortunately there are always thousands of other companies to consider.

3)    Company .PPT – these presentations speak volumes about what kind of company you are dealing with if you’re paying attention: a) my colleagues and I came up with a golden rule during my institutional investing tenure, namely that the length of a .ppt presentation is, more often than not, inversely proportional to the quality of the micro-cap company being presented (i.e., any micro-cap company that can’t be adequately presented in less than 20 slides is a problem, and 15 is even better); b) if the slides are too complex to understand on a standalone basis then either the company has a problem or you’re about to invest in something you don’t sufficiently understand – neither is good; c) NEO bios, market information, service/product/IP, strategy, financials, and use of proceeds should all receive equal billing (when buying a house, would you go and visit a house with an online profile that only features pictures of the front yard and the garage?); d) .ppt formatting and spelling/syntax problems are akin to showing up at an important job interview with giant pieces of spinach in your teeth; e) when reviewing use of proceeds (for a prospective financing) or milestones, look up prior investor presentations to see how well they did with prior promises – history often repeats itself; f) treat forward looking projections for what they typically are – fanciful at best, and violations of Reg. FD at worst; and g) micro-cap companies that flaunt celebrities as directors, partners, or investors should be approached cautiously.

4)    NEO Bios – as Ian Cassel often points out quite rightly in my opinion, micro-cap investing is an exercise in wagering on jockeys more than horses.  One of the principal ways prospective investors have to assess jockeys is the manner in which professional backgrounds are set forth; i.e., management bios.  Like a company .ppt, bios of named executive officers speak volumes about the people being described. Here are some things to look out for: a) bios that don’t contain specific company names (at least for a 10 year historic period) typically don’t for a reason, and it’s unlikely to be positive (e.g., “Mr. Smith has held senior management roles with several large technology companies”); b) it’s a good idea to compare SEC bios with bios you might find for the same people on other websites (remember the “three company CEO” referred to earlier?); c) bios that don’t contain any educational references or only highlight executive programs at Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, etc.; d) company websites that don’t have any management/director bios (surprising how many there are); and e) CEOs and CFOs who have never held those jobs before in a public company (to be clear, lots of micro-cap NEOs are “first-timers,” but it’s something you should at least factor into the risk profile of the investment).

5)    Management Conduct – just as management bios speak volumes, so does their conduct at in person one-on-one meetings.  More specifically: a) organized, professional corporate leaders rarely look disheveled or have bad hygiene; b) service providers chosen by companies also represent the company, so the previous observation applies to bankers/lawyers as well; c) CEOs who are overly chatty about non-business issues might not be keen to talk about their companies; d) if a CEO seems glued to their .ppt presentation (i.e., essentially just reading you the slides), tell them to close their laptops and just talk about the company with no visual aids – you will learn an awful lot about them in the ensuing 5 minutes; e) be on the lookout for NEOs or service providers cutting each other off, disagreeing with each other, or talking over one another;  f) when asking questions of the CEO or CFO watch their body language – moving around in their seats, running hands through their hair, perspiration, and less eye contact are nonverbal signs of duress (it’s one of the reasons why in-person meetings with management are always preferable to phone calls); g) if there are more than one NEOs in attendance, are they listening to each other (it’s rarely a great sign when other execs are looking at their phones during meetings); h) is the CEO providing careful, thoughtful answers or are they shooting from the hip – loose lips virtually always sink ships; i) did the CEO answer any questions with “I don’t know” – even great CEOs can’t possibly know the answer to every question about their companies; and j) something partially tongue-in-cheek just to think about – we know from everyday life that when someone starts a sentence with “with all due respect” what inevitably  follows is, well, something disrespectful, and when a CEO repeatedly says “to be honest” what inevitably follows is….

6)    Service Providers – micro-cap service providers (bankers, lawyers, auditors, IR firms, etc.) can run the gamut from highly professional to so bad that they can actually jeopardize companies with their advice.  While it certainly can take a while to learn “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in the micro-cap ecosystem, you can learn a lot about the CEO by asking him/her to take a few minutes to explain why the company’s service providers are the best choices for the shareholders.  It perhaps goes without saying that if a CEO can’t speak artfully, and convincingly in this regard, then buyer beware.

7)    Corporate Governance – spans the full continuum in micro-cap companies from top-notch to nothing more than a mirage.  One way to quickly ferret out which flavor of governance you’re dealing with is to ask a CEO to succinctly set forth the company’s strategy (i.e., goals, risks, opportunities, customers, etc.), and subsequently ask the CEO to describe how each seated director assists with the fundamental elements of achieving that strategy.  Though oversimplified, material disconnects in this regard are very likely to illustrate some governance challenges.  Also, ask the CEO how each of the directors came to the company; if all of the directors were brought to the company by the CEO, it’s fair to ask the CEO how confident an investor should be that the board is suitably independent to monitor the CEOs performance (one of the principal roles of all boards).

8)    Public Company IQ – easily one of the biggest problems with investing in the micro-cap arena is the conspicuous lack of (relevant, successful) capital markets and corporate finance experience in boardrooms and C-suites.  As alluded to earlier, it’s a fact of life that a large percentage of micro-cap officers and directors lack appreciable tenures in shepherding small public companies (to be clear, this doesn’t mean they aren’t smart, successful, and sophisticated, it just means they haven’t had lots of experience in small public companies).  Unlike larger public companies, small public companies can execute relatively well, and still toil in obscurity creating little or no value for shareholders.   It’s a good idea to evaluate the same when meeting with management, because companies with low “public company IQs” are more likely to underperform all else being equal.  Be on the lookout for CEOs who: a) can’t articulate a sensible strategy for maintaining or increasing trading volume; b) seem to regularly undertake financings that are more dilutive than similarly situated peer companies; c) frequently authorize the issuance of press releases that don’t appear to contain material information; d) blame some or all of their capital markets challenges on short-seller/market-making conspiracy theories; and e) can’t name the company’s largest 5 shareholders, their approximate holdings, and the last time he/she spoke to each.

9)    Follow-Up – CEOs who promise to follow-up after meetings with clarified answers, customer references, or more information but don’t are tacitly underscoring for you that they are either disorganized, disingenuous, don’t care about investors or all three.  The opposite is also not good; for example, if the company’s internal or external IR professionals subsequently convey information that seems inappropriate (from a Reg. FD standpoint) – it probably is.

10) Cautionary Note – Bernard Madoff undoubtedly would have passed these tests and a lot more with flying colors.  Sometimes the “bad guys” are really smart and charming and you’re going to either lose most of your money or get defrauded, or both. It’s happened to me, and it’s maddening and humbling at the same time.  Hence, the apt phrase: high risk, high return.

It’s easy, in my experience anyway, to get so skeptical about micro-cap companies that it can be paralyzing.  But, just when you’re about to throw in the towel, along comes a compelling growth prospect run by management with as much integrity and skill as the day is long, and it serves as a poignant reminder of everything that’s great about investing in small public companies.

Like most “best-of” lists, this isn’t intended to be exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination.  In addition to making money and promoting US jobs/innovation, one of the best parts of investing in small public companies in my opinion is continuing to hone the craft, and learn from other investors and their experiences.  Accordingly, add/subtract per your own experiences, and happy hunting.

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*Adam J. Epstein advises small-cap boards through his firm, Third Creek Advisors, LLC, is a National Association of Corporate Directors Board Leadership Fellow, and the author of The Perfect Corporate Board: A Handbook for Mastering the Unique Challenges of Small-Cap Companies, (McGraw Hill, 2012).  He was co-founder and principal of Enable Capital Management, LLC.

** En reprise

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Les dirigeants d’entreprises privées font-ils de bons administrateurs d’OBNL ?


Est-ce que les hauts dirigeants, reconnus pour leurs habiletés de gestionnaires, font de bons administrateurs d’organisations à buts non lucratifs (OBNL) ?

La thèse de William G. Bowen* (1994) est à l’effet que beaucoup de représentants du monde des affaires, siégeant sur des conseils d’administration d’OBNL, le font pour une multitude de raisons n’ayant pas toujours de relations avec les intérêts de l’organisation, mais servent plutôt à faire avancer leurs intérêts personnels !

Eugene H. Fram**, expert en gouvernance des OBNL et auteur du billet publié sur le blogue Nonprofit Management, croit qu’il faut peindre un portrait plus nuancé en 2014. Selon lui, les comités de gouvernance et de mise en nomination ne devraient cependant jamais prendre pour acquis que l’efficacité d’un gestionnaire dans une entreprise privée sera garante d’une valeur ajoutée pour l’OBNL.

Les perceptions de ceux-ci sont trop souvent à l’effet que les OBNL sont plus permissives, moins exigeantes, moins sérieuses …  La réalité est tout autre et les dirigeants devraient y penser à deux fois avant de s’engager sur un C.A. d’OBNL ! Plusieurs témoigneront que les réunions de ces conseils sont très souvent complexes, sensitives, moins structurées et, souvent, éprouvantes pour des « gestionnaires chevronnés »…

On a ici un beau sujet d’étude (de recherche) car le modèle d’affaires des OBNL suppose toujours une contribution remarquable des gens d’affaires !

Pensez-vous que la situation a beaucoup évoluée depuis l’affirmation de Bowen, il y a 20 ans ? La gouvernance des OBNL a-t-elle changée au point de modifier les perceptions des gens d’affaires ?

Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus. Bonne lecture !

 

Do Today’s Business Leaders Make Effective Nonprofit Directors?

The names of the new board nominees have been announced. They include several outstanding recruits from the business community. Will these new formidable directors perform well in the nonprofit environment? William G. Bowen, a veteran director in both the for-profit and nonprofit environments, raised the following questions about such beginnings in a 1994 article:* Is it true that well-regarded representatives of the business world are often surprisingly ineffective as members of nonprofit boards? Do they seem to have checked their analytical skills and their “toughness” at the door? If this is true in some considerable number of cases, what is the explanation?

An example of the U.S. Nonprofit Organization ...
An example of the U.S. Nonprofit Organization postage meter marking made with a Pitney Bowes mailstream system. Letter. 2007. Русский: Пример штампа франкировальной машины системы Pitney Bowes, имеющего тариф « Nonprofit Organization » (США, 2007). Письмо. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are Bowen’s observations about directors’ questionable motivations for accepting director positions still applicable in the 21st century? He noted that some nonprofit directors accept board positions because they are dedicated to the organization’s mission, vision and values. But he also hypothesized that business leaders are sometimes motivated to join nonprofit boards for a variety of other reasons. They may regard board membership as a “vacation from the bottom line … or the enjoyment of a membership in a new ‘club’.” Also they perhaps join nonprofit boards to “soften” community perceptions that, as tough bottom-line executives, they also may care as much about human issues as they care about shareholder returns. (It would probably be costly or impossible to obtain objective data of this observation.) Press reports through the years, since 1994, have indicated that such attitudes still hold leadership sway in nonprofit organizations. (See: Nonprofit Board Crisis.com)

In today’s nonprofit environment, there may remain senior business leaders or groups who are less serious about the responsibilities incumbent upon board members, as noted by Bowen. If this is the situation, a high level of board permissiveness, allowed by business-oriented directors and others, is still causing a level of board dysfunction business leaders would never allow on their own boards.

____________________________________

21st Century Reflections on Bowen’s Observations

Since Bowen’s 1994 observations, there have been some improvements. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act has driven some of the changes in audit committee’s procedures, overviews of internal controls, whistle-blower requirement, CEO’s & CFOs signatures attesting to financial statement accuracy, etc. Although not required by law, some larger nonprofits have adhered to all the provisions of the Act. I also feel business leaders now think more deeply about joining a nonprofit board, especially after the Penn State scandal and the reputation embarrassment the board encountered.

But do these changes indicate substantial change reducing the permissiveness in the nonprofit environment Bowen described? Anecdotally, here is a typical comment that I continue to hear, this one from the board chair large nonprofit with 300 employees. “We don’t expect the same standards of management performance that the business organization has.”

However, I am optimistic about the future. As nonprofit boards select more professional type CEO’s to lead their organizations, whether they are hired internally or externally, more change will take place. Hopefully, if boards want to retain these people, this movement should place some subtle pressures on board nomination committees to seek more candidates whose motivation is to focus on mission, vision and values, along with balanced budgets. A new breed should readily understand that this focus has the same meaning to nonprofit stakeholders, as a profit focus does to business stakeholders.

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* William G. Bowen (1994), “When a Business Leader Joins a Nonprofit Board,” Harvard Business Review, September-October. Bowen currently is president emeritus of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and former president of Princeton University in Princeton. He has served as an outside director for a wide variety of for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

**Eugene H. Fram PRACTITIONER AND PROFESSOR OF MARKETING AND MANAGEMENT, AUTHOR & CONSULTANT. ALSO SIGNIFICANT EXPERTISE WITH BUSINESS & NONPROFIT BOARDS OF DIRECTORS.

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Échafauder le « Board » du futur | McKinsey


Un récent document de McKinsey met en exergue l’importance pour les conseils d’administration de consacrer une partie significative de leur temps à des activités de vision stratégique à long terme plutôt que de rester le nez collé sur les rapports trimestriels, les budgets et la conformité.

L’étude estime qu’environ 70 % du temps du « Board » est investi dans de telles activités qui, même si elles sont essentielles, ne sont pas au cœur de ce que les conseils d’administration devraient faire, c’est-à-dire s’occuper de stratégies et prévoir du temps pour scruter l’avenir (les compétiteurs, le marché, les opportunités, les risques, l’évolution des valeurs sociétales, la mondialisation de l’économie, etc.).

Ce virement de bord doit s’effectuer en remaniant l’ordre du jour des conseils de manière à redresser la balance des responsabilités, c’est-à-dire en consacrant plus de temps à l’avenir ! Voici un extrait de l’excellent document de McKinsey qui montre comment les conseils peuvent répartir leur temps entre des activités de nature traditionnelles et des activités de représentation du futur.

Le tableau 1, présenté dans cet extrait, donne une bonne idée de la façon dont les présidents de conseils doivent envisager l’allocation du temps entre les réunions régulières du conseil :

(1) les activités qui relèvent de la surveillance, du contrôle et du rôle de fiduciaire;

(2) les activités qui concernent la formation de la vision du futur.

Je vous invite donc à prendre connaissance de cette approche de McKinsey qui, selon moi, marque une coupure dans la façon de concevoir les rôles et les responsabilités des membres du conseil.

Quelle est votre idée là-dessus ? Bonne lecture !

Building a forward-looking board | McKinsey

 

Debate over the role of company boards invariably intensifies when things go wrong on a grand scale, as has happened in recent years. Many of the companies whose corpses litter the industrial and financial landscape were undermined by negligent, overoptimistic, or ill-informed boards prior to the financial crisis and the ensuing deep recession. Not surprisingly, there’s been a renewed focus on improved corporate governance: better structures, more rigorous checks and balances, and greater independence by nonexecutives, for example.

McKinsey & Company competitiveness report
McKinsey & Company competitiveness report (Photo credit: mars_discovery_district)

Governance arguably suffers most, though, when boards spend too much time looking in the rear-view mirror and not enough scanning the road ahead. We have experienced this reality all too often in our work with companies over several decades. It has also come through loud and clear during recent conversations with 25 chairmen of large public and privately held companies in Europe and Asia. Today’s board agendas, indeed, are surprisingly similar to those of a century ago, when the second Industrial Revolution was at its peak. Directors still spend the bulk of their time on quarterly reports, audit reviews, budgets, and compliance—70 percent is not atypical—instead of on matters crucial to the future prosperity and direction of the business.

The alternative is to develop a dynamic board agenda that explicitly highlights these forward-looking activities and ensures that they get sufficient time over a 12-month period. The exhibit illustrates how boards could devote more of their time to the strategic and forward-looking aspects of the agenda. This article discusses ways to achieve the right balance.

How forward-looking boards should spend their time

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Comment échapper aux mythes trompeurs de la rémunération des PCD ?


Voici un texte de , professeur à Southwestern Law School, qui se questionne sérieusement sur le processus de rémunération des CEO (PCD), plus particulièrement sur les indicateurs utilisés pour en établir la valeur.

Dans son livre à paraître bientôt, « Indispensable and other myths : The empirical truth about CEO pay », il avance qu’il faut échapper à l’envie d’utiliser l’approche de la comparaison (Benchmark) avec les pairs pour fixer les rémunérations des PCD, et à l’idée de relier trop étroitement leurs rémunérations avec la capitalisation boursière de l’entreprise.

Selon lui, il n’y a pas de marché pour les talents des PCD et ceux-ci ont peu de possibilités de trouver un poste similaire dans une autre entreprise. Pourquoi alors entretenir le mythe de leur situation monopolistique, toute puissante ?

L’auteur présente une vision assez révolutionnaire de la manière de concevoir la rétribution des présidents et chefs de direction (PCD).

Je reproduis ci-dessous le billet paru sur son site Indispensable and other myths. Quel est votre point de vue sur le sujet ?

Quels sont les critères les plus raisonnables pour établir la rémunération des hauts dirigeants ? Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus !

Escaping the Conformity Trap

Pearl Meyer & Partners has just released their contribution to the NACD’s new Governance Challenges 2014 and Beyond report, “Escaping the Conformity Trap: Aligning Executive Pay Programs with Business and Leadership Objectives.” I love the overall theme, which is that companies should not default to cookie-cutter measures of executive performance just because their peer companies do. The report also indicates that companies shouldn’t defer to peers on the amount of pay, though this point is less prominent. I make a similar — though more sweeping — argument in my forthcoming book, Indispensable and Other Myths: Why the CEO Pay Experiment Failed, and How to Fix It. (The book should be out around the end of May.)

Office Politics: A Rise to the Top
Office Politics: A Rise to the Top (Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos)

Unfortunately, while there’s a lot in the Pearl Meyer report that is laudable, there’s also a fair amount of rehashing of typical errors. On page 18 (the report starts on p. 17 for some reason), the report describes the growth in CEO pay of 12% from 2009-2012 in Fortune 100 firms as “comparatively conservative.” This is technically true, if by “comparatively conservative” Pearl Meyer means that there have been much steeper rises in executive pay. But the rationale seems to be different. The report points out that the market capitalization of Fortune 100 firms increased by 50% over this same period, and credits external scrutiny of CEO pay and a desire to remain within peers’ norms for restraining CEO pay.

The clear implication here is that CEO pay should rise in proportion to the company’s stock price. (The report says this more explicitly on page 19 when it says total shareholder return is often a good performance metric.) As I point out in Indispensable, this is a dangerous fallacy. CEOs do not control their companies’ stock price. They can influence price (especially in the short term), but careful empirical studies have repeatedly demonstrated that executives’ actions account for only a small percentage of share price movement. The external environment broadly — and in the industry more particularly — drive the bulk of share price movement. So why should companies peg CEO pay to the growth in share price that for the most part is independent of their actions? This sort of rhetorical move is particularly disappointing in a report whose laudable aims seems to be to move companies in precisely the opposite direction, away from easy, off-the-shelf measures like share price that fail to capture what companies should really care about.
The report also backtracks when it comes to using comparable companies to set the amount of CEO pay. Despite having at least hinted that this is a poor strategy elsewhere in the report, it states (on p. 18):

Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with providing executives with pay opportunities that reflect market norms for comparable positions in similarly sized and oriented companies.  With well-designed long-term performance metrics and goals, establishing pay opportunities  at market median will help ensure that actual, realizable pay is appropriately positioned based on relative performance outcomes.

But there absolutely is something wrong with this. As Charles Elson and Craig Ferrere have recently demonstrated, there is no market for CEO talent. Since CEOs have little ability to move to another company, why should a company care what its competitors are paying their own CEOs? Why not try to get a bargain by paying less, if the CEO can’t get a comparable job elsewhere? Scholars have advanced plenty of rationales (which I explore in the book but don’t have room to delve into here), but none of them work very well.

Although I’m disappointed that the report does not go nearly far enough, I was heartened that a major compensation consultant is at least beginning to question the conventional wisdom. It’s a small step, but at least it’s in the right direction.

 

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Vent de changement dans les pratiques de vote des actionnaires !


Toute l’attention portée à la propriété et à la gouvernance des entreprises au cours des dernières années a menée à une réaffirmation du pouvoir du vote des actionnaires lors des assemblées annuelles des sociétés. Les actionnaires font entendre leurs voix de multiples manières auprès de la direction des entreprises et des conseils d’administration. La montée de l’actionnariat activiste est sûrement l’une des raisons de cette recrudescence.

La théorie de l’agence – qui veut que les actionnaires choisissent leurs agents/représentants (i.e. les administrateurs) et que ces derniers soient tenus responsables de la direction de l’organisation – semble mise à mal par les nouvelles intrusions des actionnaires dans la gestion de l’entreprise.

Les auteurs Paul H. Edelman et Randall S. Thomas, professeurs à Vanderbilt University, et Robert Thompson, professeur à Georgetown University Law Center, ont publié un document de recherche captivant portant sur le renouvellement des pratiques de votation dans une ère de « capitalisme intermédiaire ».

Quels sont les implications de ces changements pour la gouvernance des entreprises ? Assiste-t-on à un séisme dans le monde de la gouvernance ? Quelle sera la place des administrateurs dans la conduite des organisations si les actionnaires veulent faire la loi et exercer leur volonté en tout temps ?

Voici un résumé du document tel qu’il est présenté sur le site du Harvard Law School Forum. Vos commentaires sont bienvenus. Bonne lecture !

 

Shareholder Voting in an Age of Intermediary Capitalism

Shareholder voting, once given up for dead as a vestige or ritual of little practical importance, has come roaring back as a key part of American corporate governance. Where once voting was limited to uncontested annual election of directors, it is now common to see short slate proxy contests, board declassification proposals, and “Say on Pay” votes occurring at public companies. The surge in the importance of shareholder voting has caused increased conflict between shareholders and directors, a tension well-illustrated in recent high profile voting fights in takeovers (e.g. Dell) and in the growing role for Say on Pay votes. Yet, despite the obvious importance of shareholder voting, none of the existing corporate law theories coherently justify it.

Vote
Vote (Photo credit: Alan Cleaver)

Traditional theory about shareholder voting, rooted in concepts of residual ownership and a principal/agent relationship, does not easily fit with the long-standing legal structure of corporate law that generally cabins the shareholder role in corporate governance. Nor do those theories reflect recent fundamental changes as to who shareholders are and their incentives to vote (or not vote). Most shares today are owned by intermediaries, usually holding other people’s money within retirement plans and following business plans that gives the intermediaries little reason to vote those shares or with conflicts that may distort that vote. Yet three key developments have countered that reality and opened the way for voting’s new prominence. First, government regulations now require many institutions to vote their stock in the best interests of their beneficiaries. Second, subsequent market innovations led to the birth of third party voting advisors, including Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), which help address the costs of voting and the collective action problems inherent in coordinated institutional shareholder action. And third, building on these developments, hedge funds have aggressively intervened in corporate governance at firms seen as undervalued, making frequent use of the ballot box to pressure targeted firms to create shareholder value, thereby giving institutional shareholders a good reason to care about voting. In a parallel way outside of the hedge fund space, institutional investors have made dramatically greater use of voting in Say on Pay proposals, Rule 14a-8 corporate governance proposals and majority vote requirements for the election of directors.

The newly invigorated shareholder voting is not without its critics though. Corporate management has voiced fears about the increase in shareholders’ voting power, as well as about third party voting advisors’ perceived conflicts of interest. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has asked for public comments on the possible undue influence of proxy advisors over shareholder voting. Even institutional investors have varying views on the topic. Can we trust the vote to today’s intermediaries and their advisors?

In our article, Shareholder Voting in an Age of Intermediary Capitalism, we first develop our theory of shareholder voting. We argue that shareholders (and only shareholders) have been given the right to vote because they are the only corporate stakeholder whose return on their investment is tied directly to the company’s stock price; if stock price is positively correlated with the residual value of the firm, shareholders will want to maximize the firm’s residual value and vote accordingly. Thus, shareholder voting should lead to value maximizing decisions for the firm as a whole.

But that does not mean that shareholders should vote for everything. Economic theory and accepted principles of corporate law tell us that corporate officers exercise day to day managerial power at the public firm with boards of directors having broad monitoring authority over them. In this framework, shareholder voting is explained by its comparative value as a monitor. We would expect a shareholder vote to play a supplemental monitoring role if the issue being decided affects the company’s stock price, or long term value, and if the shareholder vote is likely to be superior, or complementary, to monitoring by the board or the market. This is particularly likely where the officers or directors of the company suffer from a conflict of interest, or may otherwise be seeking private benefits at the expense of the firm. Thus shareholder voting can play a negative role as a monitoring device by helping stop value-decreasing transactions.

Monitoring is not the only theoretical justification for shareholders voting. We posit two additional theories that provide positive reasons for corporate voting because they enhance decision-making beyond monitoring. Shareholder voting can provide: (1) a superior information aggregation device for private information held by shareholders when there is uncertainty about the correct decision; and (2) an efficient mechanism for aggregating heterogeneous preferences when the decision differentially affects shareholders.

We also explore whether contemporary shareholders have the characteristics that permit them to play the roles our theory contemplates. In particular, we examine the business plan that gives today’s intermediaries reasons not to vote or conflicts that can distort their vote. Similar attention is given to the regulatory and market changes that have grown up in response to this reality: government-required voting by intermediaries; third party proxy advisory firms to let this voting occur more efficiently; and hedge fund strategies to make voting pay, for themselves and for other intermediaries such as mutual funds and pension funds.

Finally, we use our theory to illuminate when shareholder voting is justified. We focus on the role of corporate voting where the issue is a high dollar, “big ticket” decision. We use hedge fund activism as an example of this scenario and show how it fits with each of the prongs of our voting theory. Here we see voting performing the monitoring role anticipated by our theory, but there is also an important role for aggregating heterogeneous preferences among shareholders as mutual funds decide whether to follow hedge fund initiatives. In addition, we make the less obvious case for shareholder voting where hedge funds drop out of the equation–on decisions that have a smaller effect on stock prices, or the company’s long term value, such as Say on Pay, majority voting proposals, and board declassification proposals.

In sum, this article presents a positive theory of corporate voting as it exists today. In doing so, it directly addresses the vast shifts in stock ownership that have created intermediary capitalism and the important role of government regulations and market participants in making corporate voting effective. At the same time, it preserves for corporate management the lion’s share of corporate decision making, subject to active shareholder monitoring using corporate voting in conflict situations that affect stock price.

The full paper is available for download here.

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Commentaire de l’IAS-ICD à l’attention de la CVMO | Amendements proposés aux pratiques de divulgation en matière de gouvernance


Voici un communiqué de l’Institut des administrateurs de sociétés (IAS-ICD) qui fait état de sa position auprès de la Commission des valeurs mobilières de l’Ontario (CVMO), en réponse à la sollicitation de commentaires sur des amendements proposés aux pratiques de divulgation en matière de gouvernance (Formulaire 58-101F1 et Règlement 58-101).

Dans cette lettre, l’IAS salue la CVMO et la Province de l’Ontario pour leurs initiatives visant à favoriser la diversité des genres et enjoint la CVMO à travailler en collaboration avec les Autorités canadiennes en valeurs mobilières afin d’élaborer une initiative nationale sur la diversité des genres.

L’IAS souligne également qu’il s’est fait depuis longtemps, lors de consultations auprès du gouvernement et des autorités réglementaires, un promoteur du régime « se conformer ou s’expliquer ». La lettre comprend également les suggestions suivantes pour améliorer la diversité des genres au sein des conseils d’administration :

  1. Les émetteurs devraient divulguer des cibles concernant la représentation des femmes au conseil et la manière dont ils entendent mesurer leur progrès au fil du temps. S’il n’y a pas de cibles, on devrait pouvoir exiger de l’émetteur qu’il divulgue comment il entend s’y prendre pour favoriser la diversité.
  2. De nouvelles exigences devraient être instaurées au même moment pour tous les émetteurs non émergents, sans égard à leur capitalisation boursière ou à leur indice de société.
  3. La question des limites de mandat a une portée beaucoup plus large et complexe que son seul rapport à la diversité et devrait donc être envisagée dans le cadre d’une consultation distincte. L’IAS favorise l’amélioration continue des conseils d’administration, mais ne croit pas que le renouvellement des conseils se résume simplement à une question de compte.
  4. Les exigences proposées de divulgation du nombre et de la proportion de femmes parmi les cadres dirigeants des filiales de l’émetteur ne sont pas nécessaires, seraient trop lourdes et ne devraient donc pas figurer parmi les amendements.

Veuillez cliquer ici pour lire l’intégralité de la lettre de commentaires. Les membres peuvent transmettre leur rétroaction sur cette prise de position de politique et d’autres initiatives à l’adresse de courriel comments@icd.ca.

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Document de consultation de l’OCDE sur la révision des principes de gouvernance |2014


Voici le document de consultation de l’OCDE sur la révision des principes de gouvernance |2014, présenté à Paris le 17 mars 2014. Ce document est en version anglaise seulement. Après la révision, l’OCDE produira des versions dans toutes les langues !

Celui-ci explicite les objectifs de politiques publiques en gouvernance, explore le  nouveau paysage qui commande des changements en gouvernance et suggère sept (7) domaines susceptibles d’engendrer des changements importants au document Principe de gouvernance de 2004 (OECD Principles of Corporate Governance).

Je vous invite à participer à cette consultation si vous croyez utile de le faire. Ci-dessous, une introduction, suivie des 7 développements qui influeront sur la nouvelle version des principes de gouvernance de l’OCDE.

The OECD Principles of Corporate Governance is a public policy instrument intended to assist governments in their efforts to evaluate and improve the legal, regulatory and institutional framework for corporate governance. As formulated in the mandate that was given to the OECD Corporate Governance Committee in 2010, the objective is to contribute to « economic efficiency, sustainable growth and financial stability ». In practice, this objective is achieved by formulating principles for policies that give market participants sound economic incentives to perform their respective roles within a framework of checks and balances where transparency, supervision and effective enforcement provides confidence in market practices and institutions.

English: The logo of the Organisation for Econ...
English: The logo of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the Principles may inspire voluntary initiatives and influence practices in individual companies, the Principles do not aspire to include a shopping list of what individual market participants, such as shareholders, boards, managers and other stakeholders, from their unique perspectives, may consider good business judgment or sound commercial practices. What works in one company or for one investor may not necessarily be generally applicable as public policy or of systemic economic importance to society.

In order to be relevant and effective, the legal and regulatory framework must be shaped with respect to the economic reality in which it will be implemented. This is true also for the recommendations made in the Principles. And since they were last revised in 2004, the world has experienced a number of important events and structural developments in both the financial and corporate sectors. This obviously includes the financial crisis. But equally important for the review of the Principles are the far reaching changes in corporate ownership and investment practices. In some respects, these changes have come to challenge conventional wisdom and the relevance of current corporate governance standards. Several of these developments have been documented and analysed by the Corporate Governance Committee and the Regional Corporate Governance Roundtables and some of the background reports that have been written to support the review are annexed to this note for reference.

Seven main events and developments of importance to the review of the Principles can be identified:

The financial crisis.

The financial crisis revealed severe shortcomings in corporate governance. When most needed, existing standards failed to provide the checks and balances that companies need in order to cultivate sound business practices. Corporate governance weaknesses in remuneration, risk management, board practices and the exercise of shareholder rights played an important role in the development of the financial crisis and such weaknesses extended not only to the financial sector, but to companies more generally. The lessons from the financial crisis are discussed in the Committee’s report « Corporate Governance and the Financial Crisis: Conclusions and Emerging Good Practices to Enhance Implementation of the Principles » (2010).

Developments in institutional ownership, investment strategies and trading techniques.

Since the Principles were revised in 2004, assets under management by institutional investors have increased considerably. We have also seen a surge in new types of institutional investors, investment vehicles and trading techniques. Taken together, these developments have affected the character and quality of ownership engagement. Many of the largest institutional investors, such as pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds use indexing as the prime investment strategy. A special, and increasingly popular, version of indexing is the use of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), which increased by more than 1000 percent between 2004 and 2011. A common characteristic of these investment practices is that they motivate investors to pay little or no attention to the fundamentals of individual companies, since the composition of the index is pre-defined and adjustments in the portfolio is not by active choice but rather a result of the index weighting. The same effect results from the surge in so-called high frequency trading where the investment strategy and ultra-short holding periods do not motivate any corporate specific analysis or ownership engagement. A fourth development that has attracted a lot of interest and debate is co-location of brokers, data vendors and other participants’ computer capacity within the stock exchanges’ data centres. This has raised concerns about confidence in a level playing field among different categories of investors with respect to market information. These developments and their implications for the economic incentives for ownership engagement among institutional investors are further discussed in « Institutional Investors as Owners – Who Are They and What Do They Do? » (2013).

Developments in the investment chain and the use of service providers.

The real world of ownership characterised by institutional (or intermediary) investors is a very different reality than the model textbook world of company law and economics, which assumes a strict and uncompromised alignment of interest between the performance of the company and the income of the ultimate shareholder. Instead of a straight line from « from profit to pocket », which is assumed in theory, we have an extended and sometimes very complex investment chain where different actors may have different incentives. The implications for the quality of ownership engagement are discussed in the background report « Institutional Investors as Owners – Who Are They and What Do They Do? » (2013). Among other aspects, the report highlights the possible implications of cross-investments between different institutional investors and the extensive use of proxy advisers, which is sometimes argued to impose a box ticking culture of « one-size-fits-all ». The last couple of decades have also seen an increase in outsourcing of asset management to external asset managers who may also be charged with carrying out the ownership functions. The complexity of the investment chain is also influenced by changes in stock market structures, trading practices and investment strategies. One example is the increased use of dark pools and off-exchange trading platforms that has increased concerns about the quality of the price discovery process and equal access to market information, which is so essential for efficient allocation of capital.

Developments in shareholder rights and participation.

Since the last review of the Principles, shareholder rights in many countries have been strengthened and there is a general trend to empower the shareholder meeting in the corporate decision-making process, particularly with respect to board nomination and remuneration policies. Technological advancements have also contributed to facilitating shareholder participation in the shareholder meetings. As documented in the report « Who Cares? Corporate Governance in Today’s Equity Markets » (2013), several studies illustrate a relatively high level of participation in shareholder meetings in most OECD countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States that have predominantly dispersed ownership at corporate level. Today, the discussion on shareholder participation is mainly focused on the actual quality of shareholder monitoring and engagement, with the exception of issues related to shareholder co-operation. In some countries, particularly in emerging market economies, it is also argued that ownership engagement is impeded by difficulties with respect to placing items on the agenda of the shareholders’ meeting; the rules for convening shareholders’ meetings; limited access to relevant documentation and restrictions on share ownership by institutional investors.

Developments in corporate characteristics and business models.

Investments in fixed assets, such as machinery and buildings, have for decades been seen as the main source of capital formation. A recent OECD study1, however, shows that business investment in intangible assets has been increasing faster than investments in fixed assets for a number of years in many OECD countries and already accounts for more than half of the total business investment in some countries. The result is an increased dependence on human capital and intangible assets for innovation and value creation at firm level. At the same time, there has been significant number of acquisitions by some large established companies in more intangible-asset-intensive industries, partly through their venture units. Together with the decrease in the number of new listings in advanced stock markets, these developments have raised concerns about the ability of growth companies to develop and expand as independent companies. One preliminary indicator is the decrease in the share of young companies as percentage of the total number of companies in the US by 16% over the last decade. Another important development in terms of corporate characteristics and business models is the creation and surge of alternative corporate structures, mainly in the form of partnerships. This includes publicly traded partnerships (PTPs) and master limited partnerships (MSPs) that trade on securities exchanges.

Developments in corporate ownership.

Traditionally, the international corporate governance debate has focused on situations with dispersed ownership where the conflict is a zero sum game between dispersed owners on the one hand and incumbent management on the other hand. This « agency » approach has its merits but it also has important weaknesses. One important weakness is that most listed companies around the world are not characterized by dispersed ownership. Rather, they have a controlling or dominant owner. This is particularly true in emerging markets. But controlling owners are also common in most advanced economies, including the US and continental Europe. It has been argued that the focus on dispersed ownership is of limited help when addressing corporate governance issues in companies that have a controlling owner. The presence of controlling owners is generally assumed to provide strong incentives for informed ownership engagement and to overcome the fundamental agency problem between shareholders and managers. There are also arguments that the incentives for controlling owners to assume the costs for this ownership engagement are weakened by restrictions on the possibilities of controlling owners to exercise their rights and be properly compensated for their efforts to monitor. Some of these are discussed in the background paper « The Law and Economics of Controlling Owners in Corporate Governance » (2013). At the same time, there are concerns that controlling owners in a weak regulatory framework may take advantage of minority shareholders through abusive related party transactions. This is discussed in the report « Related Party Transactions and Minority Shareholder Rights » (2012).

Developments in the functioning of public stock markets.

Corporate governance policies are focused on companies that are traded on the public stock market. To understand the functioning and structure of public stock markets is therefore essential for getting the corporate governance rules right. And today, stock markets look very different from what they did when the OECD Principles were first established. The developments are well documented in the background reports « Who Cares? Corporate Governance in Today’s Equity Markets » (2013) and « Making Stock markets Work to Support Economic Growth » (2013), which address issues such as market fragmentation, increased use of dark pools, changes in « tick-size », high-frequency trading and co-location. The reports also show that during the last decade, some of the leading stock markets in the world have lost as much as half of their listed companies and that the average size of companies that find their way to the stock market has increased. At the same time, stock exchanges in emerging markets, notably in Asia, have increased the number of listed companies significantly. Between 2008 and 2012 a majority of all new listings in the world were in emerging markets. Since the free float (the portion of outstanding shares regularly available for public trading) is relatively small in these markets, one consequence of this development is an increase in the number of publicly traded companies that have a controlling owner. Another important development is the occurrence of cross-listings and secondary listings, which raises issues related to the standards and procedures for recognizing of corporate governance standards in primary listing venues and the allocation of supervisory obligations between listing stock exchanges. We have also seen a development where stock exchanges have demutualised and become listed companies on themselves; so called self-listing. At the same time, there has been a certain degree of consolidation through mergers of regulated exchanges both at national and international level, which was coupled with the emergence of new venues for trading; such as alternative trading venues and dark pools.

2014 Review of the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance

First released in May 1999 and last revised in 2004, the OECD Corporate Governance Committee has launched a further review of the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance. The review process starts in 2014 with the objective of conclusion within one year.

 The OECD Principles are one of the 12 key standards for international financial stability of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and form the basis for the corporate governance component of the Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes of the World Bank Group.

 The rationale for the review is to ensure the continuing high quality, relevance and usefulness of the Principles taking into account recent developments in the corporate sector and capital markets. The outcome should provide policy makers, regulators and other rule-making bodies with a sound benchmark for establishing an effective corporate governance framework.

 The basis for the review will be the 2004 version of the Principles, which embrace the shared understanding that a high level of transparency, accountability, board oversight, and respect for the rights of shareholders and role of key stakeholders is part of the foundation of a well-functioning corporate governance system. These core values should be maintained and, as appropriate, be strengthened to reflect experiences since 2004.

 As the Principles are a global standard also adopted by the FSB, all FSB member jurisdictions are invited to participate in the review as Associates and have the same decision-making rights as OECD members.

 The review will benefit from consultations with stakeholders, including the business sector, investors, professional groups at national and international levels, trade unions, civil society organisations and other international standard setting bodies.

Peer reviews – In response to the corporate governance challenges that came into focus in the wake of the financial crisis, the Corporate Governance Committee launched a thematic review process designed to facilitate the effective implementation of the OECD Principles and to assist market participants and policy makers to respond to emerging corporate governance risks. These peer reviews will provide valuable background support to the review.

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Dix (10) activités que les conseils d’administration devraient éviter de faire !


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Voici le condensé d’un article publié par Deloitte en 2011 et que j’ai relayé à mes premiers abonnés au début de la création de mon blogue.

En revisitant mes billets, j’ai été en mesure de constater que plusieurs parutions étaient encore d’une grande pertinence. Ainsi, afin de revenir sur mes débuts comme blogueur, je vous présente un document de la firme Deloitte qui énumère dix (10) activités que les conseils d’administration doivent éviter de faire.

Les suggestions sont toujours aussi d’actualité. Bonne relecture !

Avoid presentation overload

Presentations should not dominate board meetings. If your board meetings consist of a scripted agenda packed with one presentation after another, there may not be sufficient time for substantive discussions. The majority of board meetings should be focused on candid dialogue about the critical strategic issues facing the company. The advance meeting materials should comprise information that provides the basis for the discussions held during the meeting. Management should feel confident that the board will read these pre-meeting materials, and the board must commit an adequate amount of time in advance of the meeting to do so.

Avoid understating the importance of compliance

There is no room for a culture of complacency when it comes to compliance with laws and regulations. As noted in the Deloitte publication

Avoid postponing the CEO succession discussion

CEO succession planning is one of the primary roles of the board. With the changing governance landscape and new and proposed regulations, the board has a full agenda these days. However, it is important to occasionally take a step back to ensure the board is addressing this important responsibility. During this time of rebuilding and prior to the implementation of new regulations, boards should assess where time is being spent and perhaps redirect focus on succession.

It is important to note that the succession planning process is continual and doesn’t end when a new CEO is selected. As the company evolves, its needs change, as do the skills required of the leadership team. The board needs to ensure that a leadership pipeline is developed and that its members have ample opportunity to connect with the next generation of leaders.

Avoid the trap of homogeneity

The topic of board composition and having the « right » people on the board continues to receive much attention. The SEC has proposed rules that would require more disclosure about director qualifications, including what makes each director qualified to participate on certain board committees. The shift to independent board members facilitated a move away from a « friends on the board » approach to a new mix. However, the board needs to assess whether this new mix translates into a positive and productive board dynamic. Boards should take a closer look at the expertise, experience and other qualities of each member to ensure the board that can provide the right expertise. Diversity of thought provides the perspectives needed to effectively address critical topics, which can contribute to greater productivity and ultimately a stronger board.

Avoid excessive short-term focus

Perpetual existence is one of the principal reasons for the initial development of a corporation. However, recent history offers many examples of modern corporate entities managing to reach short-term results at the expense of long-term prosperity. The board can demonstrate its leadership by being the voice of reason and openly discussing the sustainability of strategic initiatives. This can result in a well-governed company with a greater chance of achieving long-term, sustainable success.

Avoid approvals if you don’t understand the issue

Complex issues can have significant implications for the survival of an organization. It is up to directors to make sure that they understand issues that can alter the future of an enterprise before a vote is taken. This doesn’t require dissecting every detail, but it should consist of a thorough investigation and assessment of the risks and rewards of proposed transactions. If you don’t adequately understand the issue, ask for more education from management or external experts. It comes down to being able to ask the tough questions of management and probing further if things do not make sense. Consensus doesn’t mean going along with the crowd. True consensus results from a thorough debate and airing of the issues before the board, resulting in a more informed vote by directors.

Avoid discounting the value of experience

As a director, it is important to recognize the value that your experience can bring to the issues at hand. Good governance doesn’t mean checking all the right boxes. Rather, it is bringing together the diverse skills and experiences of each director to lead the company through challenges. Directors can provide greater insight by being ‘situationally aware’ when evaluating events and courses of action to take. Just as the captain of a ship needs to understand the various environmental factors that influence navigation, boards need to understand the external risks that may have an impact on the navigation of the company. Consider the context of the current issue, how it is similar to, or different from, previous experiences, what alternatives could be considered, and how outside forces may impede a successful outcome. Don’t discount the value of experience just because it was gained outside the boardroom.

Avoid stepping over the line into management’s role

A board that makes management decisions will find it difficult to hold the CEO accountable for the outcome. A director’s role is to oversee the efforts of management rather than stepping into management’s shoes. Directors must make a concentrated effort to ensure that they have clarity on management’s role, which is to operate the company. The distinction between the board and management is often blurred by directors who forget that they are not charged with running the day-to-day operations of an enterprise. This doesn’t prevent a director from getting into the details of an issue facing the company, but it does mean that directors should avoid stepping over the line.

Avoid ignoring shareholders

A company’s shareholders are among the most important and potentially vocal constituents of the enterprise. Concerns can sometimes be addressed by providing shareholders an audience with the board to air their concerns. Historically, compliance with the SEC Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD) rules has been perceived as a hindrance to directors engaging in shareholder dialogue and meetings. As outlined in the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance policy briefing.

Avoid a bias to risk aversion

With the recent focus on excessive risk-taking and its impact on the credit crisis, there is concern that companies and boards may become risk-averse.

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Placer les actionnaires-investisseurs au cœur du processus de nomination des administrateurs | Qu’en pensez-vous ?


Il est toujours intéressant de lire des articles qui font des propositions audacieuses sur la gouvernance des sociétés. En effet, c’est assez rare dans ce domaine qu’on se hasarde à présenter de nouvelles façons d’exercer la gouvernance.

Voici un article original et provocant publié par Emil Redding* dans CITYA.M.com qui suggère une nouvelle manière de nommer des administrateurs afin de tenir compte d’une plus grande diversité, mais aussi d’une plus grande volonté d’engagement des grands actionnaires-investisseurs dans la composition des comités de gouvernance et de mise en nomination !

Voici un extrait de l’article. Que pensez-vous de la proposition de l’auteure ?

Shareholders must be involved at an earlier stage of the process to have a real say over who is chosen. Instead of the Nominations Committee being made up of part of the current board, usually including the chair and often the chief executive, there should be a majority of “investor representatives” chosen by the body of shareholders. They would then have a vital say in who was put forward for final selection, and for “election” at the AGM.
 
Once the right non-executive directors (NEDs) are being appointed, they should be treated as more professional, held to account and rewarded accordingly. The recruitment of NEDs should become more formal and include psychometric testing. But the evaluation of NEDs also needs to become more in-depth. Pay should form an automatic part of board evaluations, and sector average pay levels should be published by the Financial Reporting Council to increase transparency.
 
By encouraging the owners of companies to take more responsibility, the UK corporate governance framework will be strengthened …

 

The boardroom debate needs to move beyond gender

WEAK and ineffectual boards are a risk to the health of their companies and to the whole UK economy. As the Flowers chairmanship of Co-op Bank showed, a board that does not contain the right mix of skills and experience will not be able to prevent mistakes from happening. We need financial and technical experts holding boardroom bosses to account. Yet the British corporate governance debate has been dominated by gender diversity. While it is vitally important that boards become more representative, this also skews attention away from where it should be – how to appoint directors with a diversity of skills and experience. So how can it be achieved? As my report today recommends, instead of executive search firms expanding shortlists to include more women, their attention should be on including people with different skills and experiences to those traditionally head-hunted. In the annual report, the skills and experiences of each board member should be emphasised, rather than their gender, so that focus shifts onto what that person brings to the monitoring and steering of the firm. Engaging shareholders is another necessary step. The 2012 Kay Review rightly identified lack of investor oversight as a crucial flaw, but the proposal to set up an Investor Forum, where shareholders meet to encourage collective engagement, and vague recommendations that investors be consulted over major appointments, will do little to improve the relationship between shareholders and the firms they own. Investors do have a say, by voting at the AGM. Yet the board typically puts forward the people they want, and shareholders unanimously waive the appointments through. Shareholders must be involved at an earlier stage of the process to have a real say over who is chosen. Instead of the Nominations Committee being made up of part of the current board, usually including the chair and often the chief executive, there should be a majority of “investor representatives” chosen by the body of shareholders. They would then have a vital say in who was put forward for final selection, and for “election” at the AGM. Once the right non-executive directors (NEDs) are being appointed, they should be treated as more professional, held to account and rewarded accordingly. The recruitment of NEDs should become more formal and include psychometric testing. But the evaluation of NEDs also needs to become more in-depth. Pay should form an automatic part of board evaluations, and sector average pay levels should be published by the Financial Reporting Council to increase transparency. By encouraging the owners of companies to take more responsibility, the UK corporate governance framework will be strengthened. This is the best insurance we can have against governance failures such as at Co-Op Bank.

________________________________________

*Emily Redding is author of Policy Exchange’s report Board Rules: Improving Corporate Governance.
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Comment se préparer aux agissements plus audacieux des actionnaires activistes ?


Joseph Cyriac, Ruth De Backer, et Justin Sanders de la firme McKinsey Insights ont produit un formidable document de recherche sur la contribution et sur l’impact des activités des actionnaires activistes. Ceux-ci ciblent de plus en plus d’entreprises … et des entreprises de plus en plus grandes.

Une recherche empirique conduite par les auteurs indique :

(1) les types de facteurs susceptibles de les attirer

(2) comment les directions et les conseils d’administration doivent réagir à l’annonce de l’intérêt.

Voici trois constats qui découlent de l’étude :

1. Les campagnes menées par les activistes génèrent, en moyenne, un accroissement de la valeur des actions

2. L’issue d’un arrangement négocié tend à produire un rendement aux actionnaires plus élevé sur une période de trois ans

3. La plupart des campagnes débutent de manière collaborative mais tournent à « l’hostilité ».

Voici un court extrait d’un article que je vous invite à lire au complet pour une meilleure compréhension de ce qu’il faut faire lorsqu’une entreprise est approchée par un investisseur activiste.

Bonne lecture !

Preparing for bigger, bolder shareholder activists !

Activist investors1 are getting ever more adventurous. Last year, according to our analysis, the US-listed companies that activists targeted had an average market capitalization of $10 billion—up from $8 billion just a year earlier and less than $2 billion at the end of the last decade. They’ve also been busier, launching an average of 240 campaigns in each of the past three years—more than double the number a decade ago. And even though activists are a relatively small group, with only $75 billion in combined assets under management compared with the $2.5 trillion hedge-fund industry overall, they’ve enjoyed a higher rate of asset growth than hedge funds and attracted new partnerships with traditional investors. As a result, they have both the capital and the leverage to continue engaging largecap companies.P1060442

Shareholders generally benefit. Our analysis of 400 activist campaigns (out of 1,400 launched against US companies over the past decade) finds that, among large companies for which data are available, the median activist campaign reverses a downward trajectory in target-company performance and generates excess shareholder returns that persist for at least 36 months (Exhibit 1).2

Exhibit 1 : Activist campaigns, on average, generate a sustained increase in shareholder returns
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En quoi les titres des hauts dirigeants d’OBNL importent-ils ?


L’appellation (le titre) donnée au premier dirigeant d’une OBNL a une grande importance pour les personnes qui transigent avec l’organisation. Ainsi, on retrouve très souvent de titre de directeur général (DG) ou le titre de directeur exécutif (DE) pour désigner les chefs de direction des entreprises à buts non lucratifs

L’article ci-dessous, publié par Eugene Fram, sur son blogue Non Profit Management propose une réflexion sur les titres octroyés dans le domaine des OBNL. Est-ce le temps de changer le titre de DG pour PDG ou pour Président et chef de direction (PCD). Quels sont les avantages ?

Dans la même veine, les PDG doivent-ils être membres de plein droit de leur conseil d’administration ? Les tendances dans les OBNL suggèrent que les PDG ne soient pas membres du C.A. Qu’en pensez-vous ?

What’s in a Name ? Benefits of the president/CEO title for NPO

Over the last 100 years, senior managers of nonprofits typically have held the title of “executive director.” During the past 30 years, many nonprofits have changed the title to “president/CEO,” following a common business practice. Many more nonprofits need to consider the same change to obtain some subtle but useful organizational benefits.

People Before Profit Alliance

A wide range of nonprofits use the executive director title: churches, human service agencies, trade associations, and medical facilities. An executive director can be organizations; hospitals became regional healthcare systems;the only manager in a church with an annual budget of $200,000, or be the head of a medical facility with a $10 million annual budget and 200 employees. These significant differences in responsibility levels can:

demean the contributions of many executive directors in the eyes of some important audiences
minimize people’s perceptions of the organizations’ contributions.

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La petite histoire de l’évolution des rémunérations des hauts dirigeants


Voici un article de DEBORAH HARGREAVES sur la petite histoire de l’évolution des rémunérations des hauts dirigeants paru dans la section Opiniator du New York Times. L’expérience européenne est particulièrement instructive à cet égard.

Je vous invite à prendre connaissance de cet historique afin de mieux comprendre les restrictions qui seront éventuellement mises en place pour remédier aux excès en matière de rémunération des dirigeants (en relation avec les salaires moyens payés).

Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus. Bonne lecture !

Can We Close the Pay Gap ?

The issue of pay ratios has become the latest front in a worldwide debate about inequality and the widening gap between the top 1 percent and everyone else. In the United States, the financial reforms of the Dodd-Frank Act contained a provision that would force American companies to disclose the ratio of the compensation of their chief executive officer to the median compensation of their employees. Yet fierce criticism from the business sector has succeeded in delaying this measure for four years — and counting.

Now the European Commission in Brussels has weighed in, with a proposal currently under discussion that the European Union’s 10,000 listed companies reveal their pay ratios and allow shareholders to vote on whether they are appropriate. This has unleashed howls of protest against the European Union’s unpopular, unelected commissioners. Fund managers have called the plan weird, and business leaders have objected that shareholders don’t want such power.

Pay ratio proposals, in fact, have a venerable history. In his 1941 essay “The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius,” George Orwell advocated a limitation of incomes so that the best-paid would earn no more than 10 times the lowest-paid. But this was controversial territory, even for Orwell. A few paragraphs on, he retreated and wrote: “In practice it is impossible that earnings should be limited quite as rigidly as I have suggested.”

Several decades earlier, that Gilded Age titan John Pierpoint Morgan had endorsed a 20 to 1 ratio between the head of a company and its average worker. That same ratio was recommended in the 1970s by the American management guru Peter F. Drucker.

Yet look where we are now: In 2012, the compensation received by chief executives of companies in the S.&P. 500 index was 354 times that of rank-and-file staff.

Companies are sensitive about revealing the pay differential between the bosses and the work force partly because the gap has become so extreme. Business leaders argue that they have to offer high rewards in order to compete in a global talent pool for well-qualified executives.

After big corporations threatened to quit the country, voters in Switzerland last year rejected a referendum that would have restricted the pay gap to a ratio of 12 to 1. But the proposition still garnered 35 percent support amid a heated campaign.

The idea of a global talent pool for chief executives is, however, largely a myth. Not one of the chief executives heading up the 142 American companies in the Fortune Global 500 at the end of 2012, for example, was an external hire from overseas. There was a little movement within Europe, but over all, poaching of chief executives from abroad accounted for only 0.8 percent of C.E.O. appointments in the Fortune Global 500.

Business leaders also argue that senior managers need incentives to drive the business forward, so their compensation must be linked to the performance of the corporation, usually through the offer of big share awards for meeting certain targets. The argument that chief executive pay must be linked to the performance of the company has driven share awards ever higher — in Britain, as high as 700 percent of salary. But there is scant evidence to show a definite link between executive remuneration and a company’s success.

On the contrary, some economists say that the practice of rewarding chief executives for boosting the share price (and consequently their own compensation) makes them too short-term in their focus. The way they are paid is thus at odds with the long-term success of the company.

Moreover, the manner in which chief executives are rewarded means that it is in their interests to keep work-force wages low, in order to contain costs. This may help to explain why we have seen executive remuneration continue to rise sharply during and after the financial crisis, while work-force wages have stagnated, struggling to keep up with inflation.

Last year, the top 10 most highly paid chief executives in the United States took home more than $100 million each; most of these rewards came from shares or stock options. The survey of 2,259 American chief executives found that, on average, their remuneration had risen by 8.47 percent. At the same time, the average family income was $51,017 — little changed from the year before, and 9 percent less than its inflation-adjusted peak in 1999 of $56,080.

According to a report by the French academic Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, incomes for the top 1 percent in the United States grew by 31.4 percent from 2009 to 2012, but the bottom 99 percent saw their wages go up by only 0.4 percent during the same period. The economists conclude that the top 1 percent captured 95 percent of the income gains in the first two years of the recovery.

Widening pay gaps have added to concerns about inequality and economic instability. This is one reason regulators are struggling to find ways of making remuneration fairer or, failing that, enforcing disclosure that shows how unfair it is.

Brussels has tried to do this by introducing a law that comes into effect next year that will cap bankers’ bonuses. Europe’s highest-paid bankers will have their bonuses restricted to 100 percent of salary, or 200 percent with prior approval of shareholders. This is largely a British issue, since most of Europe’s best-paid bankers reside in Britain.

But the bank bonus rule has seen banks making big efforts to get around it by allocating monthly allowances to their top bankers and executives to make up for lost bonuses. Banks argue that without global action on bonuses, they risk losing their top performers to Wall Street or Hong Kong.

There is probably some truth in this since bankers specifically tend to be more mobile than corporate chief executives. There is, however, a counterargument that bankers will now be more attracted to working in the European Union since their pay will generally be just as high and far more predictable than an annual bonus.

The European Union bonus saga is helpful in illustrating the often perverse consequences of trying to impose laws and regulations to limit top remuneration. In a similar fashion, President Bill Clinton’s campaign pledge in 1991 to restrict top salaries to $1 million is often cited as the point at which chief executive pay started to skyrocket in America — precisely because companies introduced payments of stock options to circumvent the rule.

A regulatory crackdown on high pay ratios can also hurt the very people it is trying to help. The imposition of a maximum pay ratio, for example, might see companies outsourcing the work of their lowest-paid employees, purely to make their figures look better.

But business is not immune to the public debate about inequality and pay distribution. There is evidence that big pay gaps can undermine employee morale, leading to strikes, more sick days and higher staff turnover. And pressure on corporate leaders to address large pay disparities because it would help their business perform more effectively can be persuasive.

There is an outside chance that business will reform itself, as some business leaders bemoan the pay scandals for inflicting damage on their sector’s reputation. But expecting multimillionaires to take a voluntary pay cut is a long shot. It might be more effective to introduce structures that will tackle egregious pay awards before they are made.

In Germany, for example, the unusual system of a two-tier board structure for company governance has helped prevent top pay rising as fast as it has in other developed nations. A supervisory board, consisting half of shareholders and half of employees elected by the work force, has the ultimate power over executives and sets top pay.

In 2012, employee board members at Volkswagen forced through a 20 percent pay cut for the chief executive even though the company was making record profits. They felt the C.E.O.’s pay was too high, his bonus targets too easy and that work-force wages had been held down. This was widely seen in Germany as a response to the controversy over inequality after the financial crisis.

There is a growing chorus of voices in Britain arguing for the election of employees onto company boards or remuneration committees. This could become an important theme in the run-up to the next general election in 2015, given the way public debate has already focused on falling living standards.

Top chief executives worldwide often take home far more in one year than most people will earn in their entire lifetime. Yet the International Monetary Fund has recognized that reducing inequality leads to “faster and more durable growth.” It is important that we put pressure on businesses and policy makers to develop measures to stop pay gaps opening up even further, and to share the rewards of success more fairly — for everyone’s benefit.

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*Deborah Hargreaves is the director of the London-based campaign group the High Pay Centre.

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Sept incompréhensions à propos du processus de succession du PDG (PCD)


Voici un excellent article, publié par Heidi Schwartz* dans FacilityBlogsur un sujet très délicat mais vital pour tous les types d’organisations : Le processus de succession du PCD.

L’auteur présente les sept mythes les plus connus sur la problématique de la relève des présidents et chefs de la direction (PCD).

J’ai reproduit ci-dessous les points saillants de l’article. Bonne lecture !

The Seven Myths Of CEO Succession

 

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« With CEOs turning over at a rate of 10%-15% per year – from jumping to another firm to resigning due to poor health or poor performance, or just retiring – companies would be expected to be well-prepared for CEO succession. But governance experts from Stanford and The Miles Group have found a number of broad misunderstandings about CEO transitions and how ready the board is for this major change.

In their recent piece for the Stanford Closer Look Series, David Larcker and Brian Tayan of the Corporate Governance Research Initiative at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stephen Miles of The Miles Group name seven myths around CEO succession – myths shared by corporate boards as well as the larger business community.

“The selection of the CEO is the single most important decision a board of directors can make,” say the authors, but turmoil around these decisions at the top “have called into question the reliability of the process that companies use to identify and develop future leaders.”

« What are the seven myths around CEO succession?

Myth #1:

Companies know who the next CEO will be. “The longer the succession period from one CEO to the next, the worse the company will perform relative to its peers,” says Professor Larcker. “But, shockingly, nearly 40% of companies claim they have no viable internal candidate available to immediately fill the shoes of the CEO if he or she left tomorrow.”

Myth #2:

There is one best model for succession. “There are several different paths companies can take to naming a successor – including internal and external approaches,” says Mr. Miles. “One reason companies fall short at succession planning is that they often select the wrong model for their current situation. A company may need an external recruit to lead a turnaround, for instance, or may have the capability to groom multiple internal executives over a period of time to allow the most promising one to shine through. One size does not fit all.”

Myth #3:

The CEO should pick a successor. “Sitting CEOs have a vested interest in the current strategy of a company and its continuance, and they may have ‘favorites’ they want to see follow them,” says Professor Larcker. “Boards, however, must determine the future needs of the company, and what kind of successor will best match the direction the company is headed.”

Myth #4:

Succession is primarily a “risk management” issue. “While a failure to plan adequately certainly exposes an organization to downside risk, boards should understand that succession planning is primarily about *building* shareholder value,” says Mr. Miles. “Succession planning is as much success-oriented as it is risk-oriented.”

Myth #5:

Boards know how to evaluate CEO talent. “Our 2013 survey found that CEO performance evaluations place considerable weight on financial performance (such as accounting, operating, and stock price results) and not enough weight on the nonfinancial metrics (such as employee satisfaction, customer service, innovation, and talent development) that have proven correlation with the long-term success of organizations,” says Professor Larcker.

Myth #6:

Boards prefer internal candidates. “While, ultimately, three quarters of newly appointed CEOs are internal executives, external candidates still hold a strong appeal for boards – especially at the start of a search,” says Mr. Miles. “Often boards aren’t given enough exposure to internal candidates, and directors are often nervous about giving an ‘untested’ executive the full reins of a company. There is a still-prevalent bias against promoting the insider ‘junior executive’ to the top spot one day. So, while the ‘myth’ may end up mostly true in the end, there is often a long journey of getting the board to that decision.”

Myth #7:

Boards want a female or minority CEO. “The numbers speak for themselves,” says Professor Larcker. “‘Diversity’ ranks high on the list of attributes that board members formally look for in CEO candidates, and yet female and ethnic minorities continue to have low representation among actual CEOs. We continue to see that boards select CEOs with leadership styles they perceive to be similar to their own, and the fact is that boards today are still highly non-diverse when it comes to gender and ethnic backgrounds.”

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Heidi Schwartz* joined Group C Media in April 1989 as managing editor of Today’s Facility Manager (TFM) magazine (formerly Business Interiors) where she was subsequently promoted to editor/co-publisher of the monthly trade magazine for facility management professionals. In September 2012, she took over the newly created position of internet director for TFM’s parent company, Group C Media, where she is charged with developing content and creating online strategies for TFM and its sister publication, Business Facilities.

 

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