Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 13 février 2020


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 13 février 2020.

Cette semaine, j’ai choisi dix billets d’intérêt. Il y a plusieurs rapports sur la gouvernance qui sont publiés en début d’année.

J’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

Top 10 predictions for Thailand 2020 | The Thaiger
  1. 2020 Governance Outlook
  2. Private Equity—Year in Review and 2020 Outlook
  3. Strengthening the Board’s Effectiveness in 2020: A Framework for Board Evaluations
  4. Leading Boards Rethinking Strategy and Enabling Innovation
  5. Year in Review: Delaware Corporate Law and Litigation
  6. Accelerating ESG Disclosure—World Economic Forum Task Force
  7. S&P 500 CEO Compensation Increase Trends
  8. Core Principles of Exculpation and Director Independence
  9. Let’s Get Concrete About Stakeholder Capitalism
  10. Technology and Life Science 2019 IPO Report

Vous recevez une invitation à vous joindre à un CA ! Comment devriez-vous agir ?


Dois-je me joindre à ce conseil d’administration ? Pourquoi me sollicite-t-on à titre de fiduciaire de ce CA ? Comment me préparer à assumer ce rôle ? J’appréhende la première rencontre ! Comment agir ?

Voilà quelques questions que se posent les nouveaux membres de conseils d’administration. L’article de Nada Kakabadse, professeure de stratégie, de gouvernance et d’éthique à Henley Business School, répond admirablement bien aux questions que devraient se poser les nouveaux membres.

L’article a été publié sur le site de Harvard Law School on Corporate Governance.

L’auteure offre le conseil suivant aux personnes sollicitées :

Avant d’accepter l’invitation à vous joindre à un CA, effectuez un audit informel pour vous assurer de comprendre la dynamique du conseil d’administration, l’étendue de vos responsabilités, et comment vous pouvez ajouter de la valeur.

Bonne lecture !

 

 

The coveted role of non-executive director (NED) is often assumed to be a perfect deal all round. Not only is joining the board viewed as a great addition to any professional’s CV, but those offered the opportunity consistently report feeling excited, nervous and apprehensive about the new role, the responsibilities it entails and how they will be expected to behave.

Our ongoing research into this area is packed with commentary such as:

“If you’re a new face on the board, you pay a lot of attention to others’ behaviour, and you are very apprehensive. You try to say only things that you perceive that are adding value. You feel that saying the wrong thing or at the wrong time may cost you your reputation and place at the board”—new female NED.

“Joining the board I felt intimidated because I was in a foreign territory. I did not know how it was all going to work. I did not know personalities, nor a pecking order for the group”—male NED.

Despite this, the status that comes with being offered a place on the board usually serves to quickly put any such concerns to one side.

Board members who are perceived to be high profile or status tend to experience a feeling of high achievement, which is further magnified if the position is symbolic of their personal progress.

“I just felt very privileged to be invited and be part of this board, recognising the quality of the individuals that are already here”—male NED.

Questions to consider

 

Savvy and experienced NEDs begin by conducting an informal audit before joining the board. Questions that should come to mind include:

    • How will my business acumen help me understand this organisation’s situation?
    • Will my knowledge of governance, legal and regulatory frameworks allow me to effectively discharge my responsibilities?
    • Will my financial astuteness enable me to understand the company’s debt and finance issues?
    • Have I got the emotional intelligence to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically?
    • Will my integrity help or hinder this board operation?
    • Ultimately, how will I add value to this board?

Many new NEDs don’t take this approach because they are just thrilled that an opportunity has arrived and eagerly accept the nomination. Then they attend their first board meeting and reality bites. The questions they find themselves suddenly asking are:

    • What kind of board have I joined?
    • What culture does this board have?
    • How will I contribute to the board?

“I am always honoured to be invited on to a board. But, I always undertake an audit about who sits on the board. Particularly important for me is ‘who is the chair of the board?’ I accept the invitation only if the chair meets my criteria”—experienced female NED.

It is important for all new NEDs to recognise the complexity that goes hand-in-hand with sitting on the board of any modern organisation. Areas that will need careful review include the nature of the business and its ownership structure, information overload, digitalisation, and society and stakeholder’s shifting expectations of what a board is for.

While the board and chair shape the culture, they cannot force it upon an organisation

The board and NED’s job are nuanced and challenging. Dilemmas, rather than routine choices, underpin most decisions. Mergers and acquisitions, restructuring and competitive pressures often bring this activities into sharp focus.

Ultimately the chair has the role of “responsibility maximiser”. They have to ensure that all groups’ views are considered and that, in the long term, these interests are served as well as possible. The chair should also ensure that decisions are felt to be well-considered and fair, even if they might not be to everyone’s liking.

According to the UK Corporate Governance Code one of the key roles for boards is to establish the culture, values and ethics of a company. It is important that the board sets the correct “tone from the top”.

A healthy corporate culture is an asset, a source of competitive advantage and vital to the creation and protection of long-term value. While the board and chair shape the culture, they cannot force it upon an organisation. Culture must evolve.

“The culture of the board is to analyse and debate. A kind of robustness of your argument, rather than getting the job done and achieving an outcome. Although decisions also must be made”—male NED.

An appetite for risk

 

Culture is closely linked to risk and risk appetite, and the code also asks boards to examine the risks which might affect a company and its long-term viability. Chairs and chief executives recognise the relevance of significant shifts in the broader environment in which a business operates.

Well-chosen values typically stand the test of time, but need to be checked for ongoing relevance

Acceptable behaviour evolves, meaning company culture must be adjusted to mirror current context and times. For example, consumers are far more concerned about the environmental behaviour and impact of an organisation than they were 20 years ago. Well-chosen values typically stand the test of time, but need to be checked for ongoing relevance as society moves on and changes.

The board’s role is to determine company purpose and ensure that its strategy and business model are aligned. Mission should reflect values and culture, something which cannot be developed in isolation. The board needs to oversee both and this responsibility is an inherently complex business that needs to satisfy multiple objectives and manage conflicting stakeholder demands.

Remuneration and promotion policies

 

Novice NEDs have the freedom to ask innocent and penetrating questions as they learn how to operate on a new board.

An excellent starting point is to ask HR for employee data and look for any emerging trends, such as disciplinary matters, warnings given, firings, whistleblowing or any gagging agreements. This information quickly unveils the culture of an organisation and its board.

Remuneration and promotion policies exert a significant influence over organisational culture

NEDs should further request details of remuneration and promotion policies. These exert a significant influence over organisational culture and as such should be cohesive, rather than divisive.

Most performance reviews take into account the fit between an executive and company’s managerial ethos and needs. Remuneration, in particular, shapes the dominant corporate culture. For example, if the gender pay gap is below the industry standard, this flags a potential problem from the outset.

Joining the board

 

Once a NED understands board culture they can begin to develop a strategy about how to contribute effectively. However, the chair also needs to play an essential role of supporting new members with comparatively less experience by giving them encouragement and valuing their contribution. New board members will prosper, provided there is a supportive chair who will nurture their talent.

Before joining the board undertake an audit. Interview other board members, the chair and CEO. Listen to their description of what a board needs, and then ask the questions:

    • Are there any taboo subjects for the board?
    • What is the quality of relationship between the chair and the rest of the board, the management team, and the CEO?

The answers to these questions will determine whether the prospective board member can add value. If “yes”, join; if “no”, then decline. As a new board member, get to know how the board really functions and when you gain in confidence start asking questions.

Take your time to fully appreciate the dynamics of the board and the management team so that, as a new member, you enhance your credibility and respect by asking pertinent questions and making relevant comments.

Top 15 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 6 février 2020


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 6 février 2020.

Cette semaine, j’ai choisi plusieurs billets d’intérêt. C’est normal, car c’est le début de l’année 2020 et il y a plusieurs rapports sur la gouvernance qui sont publiés à la fin du premier mois.

J’ai relevé les quinze principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "top 15"

 

 

  1. Navigating the ESG Landscape
  2. 2019 Year-End Securities Enforcement Update
  3. IAC Recommendation Concerning SEC Guidance and Rule Proposals on Proxy Advisors and Shareholder Proposals
  4. SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspection: Examination Priorities for 2020
  5. 2020 Compensation Committee Handbook
  6. Supreme Court Is Asked to Weaken the SEC’s Ability to “Make Things Right”: Amici Curiae Brief
  7. CEO Letter to Board Members Concerning 2020 Proxy Voting Agenda
  8. White-Collar and Regulatory Enforcement: What Mattered in 2019 and What to Expect in 2020
  9. Governance of Corporate Insider Equity Trades
  10. Confidential Treatment Applications and SEC Disclosure Guidance
  11. Advance Notice Bylaw and Activists Board Nominees
  12. The Economics of Shareholder Proposal Rules
  13. ISS Comment Letter on Amendments to Exemptions from the Proxy Rules for Proxy Voting Advice
  14. Glass Lewis Comment Letter to the SEC About Proposed Proxy Rules for Proxy Voting Advice
  15. The Economics of Regulating Proxy Advisors

 

Le cas d’un quid pro quo vécu dans une OBNL


Voici un cas publié sur le site de Julie McLelland qui aborde un processus de prise de décision susceptible de diviser les membres du CA, en créant une situation de conflits d’intérêts.

Le cas est assez représentatif des dilemmes vécus dans plusieurs OBNL, peut-être à cause de la non-rémunération des membres du conseil !

Sarah se questionne sur la possibilité de conflits d’intérêts et, ce faisant, elle invite les autres administrateurs à faire preuve d’indépendance.

De son côté, le président du CA ne se formalise pas de cette apparence de conflit d’intérêts et il invite les administrateurs à être réalistes.

Le cas a d’abord été traduit en français en utilisant Google Chrome, puis, je l’ai édité et adapté.

Le cas présente la situation de manière assez factuelle, puis trois experts se prononcent sur le cas.

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont toujours les bienvenus.

Le cas d’un quid pro quo vécu dans une OBNL

 

 

Sarah siège au conseil d’administration non rémunéré d’un organisme à but non lucratif (OBNL) qui a la chance de posséder ses propres locaux commerciaux. Le président du conseil a récemment invité une connaissance possédant une vaste expérience dans la gestion des installations et en développement immobilier, à se joindre au conseil.

Dès la première réunion du nouvel administrateur, le président du CA lui demande de préparer un rapport sur les options stratégiques à considérer pour maximiser la valeur des locaux. Il y aurait des contraintes de conception, mais si elles sont bien gérées, il serait possible d’agrandir le bâtiment et de donner à l’entreprise un environnement de travail plus efficace et moderne ainsi qu’un flux de revenus provenant de la location de bureaux supplémentaires.

À la réunion suivante, le nouvel administrateur a présenté son rapport et a suggéré que son entreprise était prête à entreprendre, sans frais, les travaux de conception nécessaires pour obtenir l’approbation de la planification, à condition que, si un permis était obtenu, son entreprise entreprenne le projet.

Sarah a souligné le conflit d’intérêts potentiel lié à cette situation. Le conseil d’administration est maintenant divisé ; la moitié des administrateurs souhaitant accepter l’offre, car c’est un moyen « sans risque » de réaliser le projet, et l’autre moitié souhaitant engager une entreprise indépendante pour faire la conception et/ou la construction même si cela exigeait que l’organisation dépense des fonds précieux avec le risque potentiel de ne pas obtenir un permis. L’organisation n’a pas beaucoup de liquidités et le bâtiment est son plus grand actif tangible.

Pire encore, le président semble maintenant blâmer Sarah pour la désunion au conseil d’administration. Il a déclaré ouvertement que les gens ne se joignent pas à un conseil d’administration sans avoir certaines attentes de récompenses pour leur temps, leurs efforts et leurs prises de risques.

Comment Sarah peut-elle aider son conseil d’administration à se regrouper et à agir avec un bon sens commercial tout en conservant une saine gouvernance ?

 

Tony’s Answer

Firstly, did Sarah know that the proposition involved a conflict of interest from personal knowledge and experience on other Boards, or was she drawing on the not for profit’s own conflict of interest policy?

If it was the latter, the new Director should have been made aware of this policy as part of a director induction process, so he knew the expectations of him as a director including conflicts of interest and to be motivated to join the Board for all the right reasons. If not, this should have occurred.

If there is no conflict of interest of policy the first piece of advice for Sarah would be to insist that a policy be developed and implemented immediately, in order for this situation to be avoided in the future.

The next piece of advice for Sarah would be to draw on the assistance of the other directors who support her position to speak against the proposal and to rebut the proposition that new directors don’t join boards without some expectation of a reward for their time etc. For the Chair to use this as an argument strongly suggests he is not aware of his important role as Chair to enforce the highest standards of governance.

The next piece of advice to resolve this situation would be to suggest the appointment of an independent governance expert to conduct a mediation session with the whole board to try and find a solution and take pressure of Sarah being the “responsible” Director for highlighting the conflict of interest in the first place.

Tony Lawson is the Executive Director of Laurel Palliative Care and Managing Director of Tony Lawson Consulting. He is based in Adelaide, Australia.

Julie’s Answer

Legitimate expectations of reward for the time, effort and risk of service on an unremunerated not-for-profit board are: the satisfaction of a job well done, and the respect and consideration of your peers.

When recruiting a new director to join it is important to discuss the culture, expected contribution, and rewards of service on this board. Failure to talk at the beginning can lead to even more difficult conversations later.

Sarah’s board sounds dangerously passive. A good board would:

    • be involved in decisions about director appointments and suitability of candidates’ skills and culture fit.
    • discuss implications of any report on strategic options when the report was commissioned; before anyone ‘invested’ time and effort into investigating and writing it.
    • be alert to conflicts of interest, which include aligned interests, and have a policy to manage these.
    • welcome the raising of potential conflicts with a view to understanding the risks so as to make a better, more nuanced decision.
    • Act as a cohesive team and seek to make decisions that all could support.

Sarah’s board needs to make a commercial decision about the potential costs of locking in a preferred supplier versus the risk of spending money on studies that may not bear fruit. They should apply their conflict of interest policy which will likely preclude the new director from taking part in the decision. It should not be an emotional or personal conversation.

Sarah should have a quiet word with the Chair, or Audit Committee Chair if that is more comfortable, and suggest getting this discussion onto the next agenda so that the board can move forward with unity.

Once they have documented their decision they can proceed with either course of action.

Julie Garland McLellan is a non-executive director and board consultant based in Sydney, Australia.

Louise’s Answer

Sarah sits on a Board that has an opportunity to capitalise on the asset they own. All boards, particularly non-for-profits, should consider ways in improving their capital position for their beneficiaries.

There (seemingly) was no negative response from the Board of appointing a Property Expert, as they all saw benefit, value and need to bring expertise to the Board. Moreover, there was no disagreement from the Board in requesting the New Director to prepare a Report on strategic options for maximising the value of the premises. We assume that the Board also accepted the recommendations of the Report.

Sarah was correct in pointing out the potential conflict of interest, which would be a requirement of any Board Director. The Board should have processes/ Terms of Reference for expectations of Directors and potential Conflicts of interest. In resolving this dilemma, Sarah should suggest the following:

    • the Board seek tenders/quotations from the New Board Member’s firm+ other Design / Construction firms for the complete works required to deliver the project i.e planning + design + construction;
    • the Board (excluding any input from the New Board Member) review and analyse the Tender responses, bearing in mind that the New Board Member’s firm would be providing pre-construction/ planning approval & design work pro-bono, which their Tender Response theoretically should be significantly less than the other Tenderers. It is important to note that the costs associated with obtaining planning approvals are significant and does not guarantee planning approval.
    • Following analysis by the Board, they should be able to determine if the initial proposal from the New Board Member is indeed value for money, and if so, could be accepted.

Louise Vlatko is Co-founder and Director of Xmirus and Director of Independent Living Villages. She is based in New South Wales, Australia