Top 10 des billets publiés sur Harvard Law School Forum au 4 mars 2021


Voici, comme à l’habitude, le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 4 mars 2021.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2020 | Research World

 

  1. The Capital Markets Tug-of-War Between US and China
  2. How Boards Can Prepare for Activism’s Next Wave
  3. An Introduction to Activist Stewardship
  4. Biden’s “Money Cop” to Shine a Light on ESG Disclosure
  5. Climate Risk and the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy
  6. Gender Quotas and Support for Women in Board Elections
  7. 2021 Global and Regional Trends in Corporate Governance
  8. 2021 Compensation Committee
  9. Proxy Advisory Firms Release First Reports on Latest Best Practices
  10. Duty and Diversity

Comment procéder à l’évaluation du CA, des comités et des administrateurs | Un sujet d’actualité !


Les conseils d’administration sont de plus en plus confrontés à l’exigence d’évaluer l’efficacité de leur fonctionnement par le biais d’une évaluation annuelle du CA, des comités et des administrateurs.

En fait, le NYSE exige depuis dix ans que les conseils procèdent à leur évaluation et que les résultats du processus soient divulgués aux actionnaires. Également, les investisseurs institutionnels et les activistes demandent de plus en plus d’informations au sujet du processus d’évaluation.

Les résultats de l’évaluation peuvent être divulgués de plusieurs façons, notamment dans les circulaires de procuration et sur le site de l’entreprise.

L’article publié par John Olson, associé fondateur de la firme Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, professeur invité à Georgetown Law Center, et paru sur le forum du Harvard Law School, présente certaines approches fréquemment utilisées pour l’évaluation du CA, des comités et des administrateurs.

On recommande de modifier les méthodes et les paramètres de l’évaluation à chaque trois ans afin d’éviter la routine susceptible de s’installer si les administrateurs remplissent les mêmes questionnaires, gérés par le président du conseil. De plus, l’objectif de l’évaluation est sujet à changement (par exemple, depuis une décennie, on accorde une grande place à la cybersécurité).

C’est au comité de gouvernance que revient la supervision du processus d’évaluation du conseil d’administration. L’article décrit quatre méthodes fréquemment utilisées.

(1) Les questionnaires gérés par le comité de gouvernance ou une personne externe

(2) les discussions entre administrateurs sur des sujets déterminés à l’avance

(3) les entretiens individuels avec les administrateurs sur des thèmes précis par le président du conseil, le président du comité de gouvernance ou un expert externe.

(4) L’évaluation des contributions de chaque administrateur par la méthode d’auto-évaluation et par l’évaluation des pairs.

Chaque approche a ses particularités et la clé est de varier les façons de faire périodiquement. On constate également que beaucoup de sociétés cotées utilisent les services de spécialistes pour les aider dans leurs démarches.

Evaluer-et-faire-évoluer-©-Jingling-Water-Fotolia

 

La quasi-totalité des entreprises du S&P 500 divulgue le processus d’évaluation utilisé pour améliorer leur efficacité. L’article présente deux manières de diffuser les résultats du processus d’évaluation.

(1) Structuré, c’est-à-dire un format qui précise — qui évalue quoi ; la fréquence de l’évaluation ; qui supervise les résultats ; comment le CA a-t-il agi eu égard aux résultats de l’opération d’évaluation.

(2) Information axée sur les résultats — les grandes conclusions ; les facteurs positifs et les points à améliorer ; un plan d’action visant à corriger les lacunes observées.

Notons que la firme de services aux actionnaires ISS (Institutional Shareholder Services) utilise la qualité du processus d’évaluation pour évaluer la robustesse de la gouvernance des sociétés. L’article présente des recommandations très utiles pour toute personne intéressée par la mise en place d’un système d’évaluation du CA et par sa gestion.

Voici trois articles parus sur mon blogue qui abordent le sujet de l’évaluation :

L’évaluation des conseils d’administration et des administrateurs | Sept étapes à considérer

Quels sont les devoirs et les responsabilités d’un CA ?  (la section qui traite des questionnaires d’évaluation du rendement et de la performance du conseil)

Évaluation des membres de Conseils

Bonne lecture !

Getting the Most from the Evaluation Process

 

More than ten years have passed since the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) began requiring annual evaluations for boards of directors and “key” committees (audit, compensation, nominating/governance), and many NASDAQ companies also conduct these evaluations annually as a matter of good governance. [1] With boards now firmly in the routine of doing annual evaluations, one challenge (as with any recurring activity) is to keep the process fresh and productive so that it continues to provide the board with valuable insights. In addition, companies are increasingly providing, and institutional shareholders are increasingly seeking, more information about the board’s evaluation process. Boards that have implemented a substantive, effective evaluation process will want information about their work in this area to be communicated to shareholders and potential investors. This can be done in a variety of ways, including in the annual proxy statement, in the governance or investor information section on the corporate website, and/or as part of shareholder engagement outreach.

To assist companies and their boards in maximizing the effectiveness of the evaluation process and related disclosures, this post provides an overview of several frequently used methods for conducting evaluations of the full board, board committees and individual directors. It is our experience that using a variety of methods, with some variation from year to year, results in more substantive and useful evaluations. This post also discusses trends and considerations relating to disclosures about board evaluations. We close with some practical tips for boards to consider as they look ahead to their next annual evaluation cycle.

Common Methods of Board Evaluation

As a threshold matter, it is important to note that there is no one “right” way to conduct board evaluations. There is room for flexibility, and the boards and committees we work with use a variety of methods. We believe it is good practice to “change up” the board evaluation process every few years by using a different format in order to keep the process fresh. Boards have increasingly found that year-after-year use of a written questionnaire, with the results compiled and summarized by a board leader or the corporate secretary for consideration by the board, becomes a routine exercise that produces few new insights as the years go by. This has been the most common practice, and it does respond to the NYSE requirement, but it may not bring as much useful information to the board as some other methods.

Doing something different from time to time can bring new perspectives and insights, enhancing the effectiveness of the process and the value it provides to the board. The evaluation process should be dynamic, changing from time to time as the board identifies practices that work well and those that it finds less effective, and as the board deals with changing expectations for how to meet its oversight duties. As an example, over the last decade there have been increasing expectations that boards will be proactive in oversight of compliance issues and risk (including cyber risk) identification and management issues.

Three of the most common methods for conducting a board or committee evaluation are: (1) written questionnaires; (2) discussions; and (3) interviews. Some of the approaches outlined below reflect a combination of these methods. A company’s nominating/governance committee typically oversees the evaluation process since it has primary responsibility for overseeing governance matters on behalf of the board.

1. Questionnaires

The most common method for conducting board evaluations has been through written responses to questionnaires that elicit information about the board’s effectiveness. The questionnaires may be prepared with the assistance of outside counsel or an outside advisor with expertise in governance matters. A well-designed questionnaire often will address a combination of substantive topics and topics relating to the board’s operations. For example, the questionnaire could touch on major subject matter areas that fall under the board’s oversight responsibility, such as views on whether the board’s oversight of critical areas like risk, compliance and crisis preparedness are effective, including whether there is appropriate and timely information flow to the board on these issues. Questionnaires typically also inquire about whether board refreshment mechanisms and board succession planning are effective, and whether the board is comfortable with the senior management succession plan. With respect to board operations, a questionnaire could inquire about matters such as the number and frequency of meetings, quality and timeliness of meeting materials, and allocation of meeting time between presentation and discussion. Some boards also consider their efforts to increase board diversity as part of the annual evaluation process.

Many boards review their questionnaires annually and update them as appropriate to address new, relevant topics or to emphasize particular areas. For example, if the board recently changed its leadership structure or reallocated responsibility for a major subject matter area among its committees, or the company acquired or started a new line of business or experienced recent issues related to operations, legal compliance or a breach of security, the questionnaire should be updated to request feedback on how the board has handled these developments. Generally, each director completes the questionnaire, the results of the questionnaires are consolidated, and a written or verbal summary of the results is then shared with the board.

Written questionnaires offer the advantage of anonymity because responses generally are summarized or reported back to the full board without attribution. As a result, directors may be more candid in their responses than they would be using another evaluation format, such as a face-to-face discussion. A potential disadvantage of written questionnaires is that they may become rote, particularly after several years of using the same or substantially similar questionnaires. Further, the final product the board receives may be a summary that does not pick up the nuances or tone of the views of individual directors.

In our experience, increasingly, at least once every few years, boards that use questionnaires are retaining a third party, such as outside counsel or another experienced facilitator, to compile the questionnaire responses, prepare a summary and moderate a discussion based on the questionnaire responses. The desirability of using an outside party for this purpose depends on a number of factors. These include the culture of the board and, specifically, whether the boardroom environment is one in which directors are comfortable expressing their views candidly. In addition, using counsel (inside or outside) may help preserve any argument that the evaluation process and related materials are privileged communications if, during the process, counsel is providing legal advice to the board.

In lieu of asking directors to complete written questionnaires, a questionnaire could be distributed to stimulate and guide discussion at an interactive full board evaluation discussion.

2. Group Discussions

Setting aside board time for a structured, in-person conversation is another common method for conducting board evaluations. The discussion can be led by one of several individuals, including: (a) the chairman of the board; (b) an independent director, such as the lead director or the chair of the nominating/governance committee; or (c) an outside facilitator, such as a lawyer or consultant with expertise in governance matters. Using a discussion format can help to “change up” the evaluation process in situations where written questionnaires are no longer providing useful, new information. It may also work well if there are particular concerns about creating a written record.

Boards that use a discussion format often circulate a list of discussion items or topics for directors to consider in advance of the meeting at which the discussion will occur. This helps to focus the conversation and make the best use of the time available. It also provides an opportunity to develop a set of topics that is tailored to the company, its business and issues it has faced and is facing. Another approach to determining discussion topics is to elicit directors’ views on what should be covered as part of the annual evaluation. For example, the nominating/governance could ask that each director select a handful of possible topics for discussion at the board evaluation session and then place the most commonly cited topics on the agenda for the evaluation.

A discussion format can be a useful tool for facilitating a candid exchange of views among directors and promoting meaningful dialogue, which can be valuable in assessing effectiveness and identifying areas for improvement. Discussions allow directors to elaborate on their views in ways that may not be feasible with a written questionnaire and to respond in real time to views expressed by their colleagues on the board. On the other hand, they do not provide an opportunity for anonymity. In our experience, this approach works best in boards with a high degree of collegiality and a tradition of candor.

3. Interviews

Another method of conducting board evaluations that is becoming more common is interviews with individual directors, done in-person or over the phone. A set of questions is often distributed in advance to help guide the discussion. Interviews can be done by: (a) an outside party such as a lawyer or consultant; (b) an independent director, such as the lead director or the chair of the nominating/governance committee; or (c) the corporate secretary or inside counsel, if directors are comfortable with that. The party conducting the interviews generally summarizes the information obtained in the interview process and may facilitate a discussion of the information obtained with the board.

In our experience, boards that have used interviews to conduct their annual evaluation process generally have found them very productive. Directors have observed that the interviews yielded rich feedback about the board’s performance and effectiveness. Relative to other types of evaluations, interviews are more labor-intensive because they can be time-consuming, particularly for larger boards. They also can be expensive, particularly if the board retains an outside party to conduct the interviews. For these reasons, the interview format generally is not one that is used every year. However, we do see a growing number of boards taking this path as a “refresher”—every three to five years—after periods of using a written questionnaire, or after a major event, such as a corporate crisis of some kind, when the board wants to do an in-depth “lessons learned” analysis as part of its self-evaluation. Interviews also offer an opportunity to develop a targeted list of questions that focuses on issues and themes that are specific to the board and company in question, which can contribute further to the value derived from the interview process.

For nominating/governance committees considering the use of an interview format, one key question is who will conduct the interviews. In our experience, the most common approach is to retain an outside party (such as a lawyer or consultant) to conduct and summarize interviews. An outside party can enhance the effectiveness of the process because directors may be more forthcoming in their responses than they would if another director or a member of management were involved.

Individual Director Evaluations

Another practice that some boards have incorporated into their evaluation process is formal evaluations of individual directors. In our experience, these are not yet widespread but are becoming more common. At companies where the nominating/governance committee has a robust process for assessing the contributions of individual directors each year in deciding whether to recommend them for renomination to the board, the committee and the board may conclude that a formal evaluation every year is unnecessary. Historically, some boards have been hesitant to conduct individual director evaluations because of concerns about the impact on board collegiality and dynamics. However, if done thoughtfully, a structured process for evaluating the performance of each director can result in valuable insights that can strengthen the performance of individual directors and the board as a whole.

As with board and committee evaluations, no single “best practice” has emerged for conducting individual director evaluations, and the methods described above can be adapted for this purpose. In addition, these evaluations may involve directors either evaluating their own performance (self-evaluations), or evaluating their fellow directors individually and as a group (peer evaluations). Directors may be more willing to evaluate their own performance than that of their colleagues, and the utility of self-evaluations can be enhanced by having an independent director, such as the chairman of the board or lead director, or the chair of the nominating/governance committee, provide feedback to each director after the director evaluates his or her own performance. On the other hand, peer evaluations can provide directors with valuable, constructive comments. Here, too, each director’s evaluation results typically would be presented only to that director by the chairman of the board or lead director, or the chair of the nominating/governance committee. Ultimately, whether and how to conduct individual director evaluations will depend on a variety of factors, including board culture.

Disclosures about Board Evaluations

Many companies discuss the board evaluation process in their corporate governance guidelines. [2] In addition, many companies now provide disclosure about the evaluation process in the proxy statement, as one element of increasingly robust proxy disclosures about their corporate governance practices. According to the 2015 Spencer Stuart Board Index, all but 2% of S&P 500 companies disclose in their proxy statements, at a minimum, that they conduct some form of annual board evaluation.

In addition, institutional shareholders increasingly are expressing an interest in knowing more about the evaluation process at companies where they invest. In particular, they want to understand whether the board’s process is a meaningful one, with actionable items emerging from the evaluation process, and not a “check the box” exercise. In the United Kingdom, companies must report annually on their processes for evaluating the performance of the board, its committees and individual directors under the UK Corporate Governance Code. As part of the code’s “comply or explain approach,” the largest companies are expected to use an external facilitator at least every three years (or explain why they have not done so) and to disclose the identity of the facilitator and whether he or she has any other connection to the company.

In September 2014, the Council of Institutional Investors issued a report entitled Best Disclosure: Board Evaluation (available here), as part of a series of reports aimed at providing investors and companies with approaches to and examples of disclosures that CII considers exemplary. The report recommended two possible approaches to enhanced disclosure about board evaluations, identified through an informal survey of CII members, and included examples of disclosures illustrating each approach. As a threshold matter, CII acknowledged in the report that shareholders generally do not expect details about evaluations of individual directors. Rather, shareholders “want to understand the process by which the board goes about regularly improving itself.” According to CII, detailed disclosure about the board evaluation process can give shareholders a “window” into the boardroom and the board’s capacity for change.

The first approach in the CII report focuses on the “nuts and bolts” of how the board conducts the evaluation process and analyzes the results. Under this approach, a company’s disclosures would address: (1) who evaluates whom; (2) how often the evaluations are done; (3) who reviews the results; and (4) how the board decides to address the results. Disclosures under this approach do not address feedback from specific evaluations, either individually or more generally, or conclusions that the board has drawn from recent self-evaluations. As a result, according to CII, this approach can take the form of “evergreen” proxy disclosure that remains similar from year to year, unless the evaluation process itself changes.

The second approach focuses more on the board’s most recent evaluation. Under this approach, in addition to addressing the evaluation process, a company’s disclosures would provide information about “big-picture, board-wide findings and any steps for tackling areas identified for improvement” during the board’s last evaluation. The disclosures would identify: (1) key takeaways from the board’s review of its own performance, including both areas where the board believes it functions effectively and where it could improve; and (2) a “plan of action” to address areas for improvement over the coming year. According to CII, this type of disclosure is more common in the United Kingdom and other non-U.S. jurisdictions.

Also reflecting a greater emphasis on disclosure about board evaluations, proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (“ISS”) added this subject to the factors it uses in evaluating companies’ governance practices when it released an updated version of “QuickScore,” its corporate governance benchmarking tool, in Fall 2014. QuickScore views a company as having a “robust” board evaluation policy where the board discloses that it conducts an annual performance evaluation, including evaluations of individual directors, and that it uses an external evaluator at least every three years (consistent with the approach taken in the UK Corporate Governance Code). For individual director evaluations, it appears that companies can receive QuickScore “credit” in this regard where the nominating/governance committee assesses director performance in connection with the renomination process.

What Companies Should Do Now

As noted above, there is no “one size fits all” approach to board evaluations, but the process should be viewed as an opportunity to enhance board, committee and director performance. In this regard, a company’s nominating/governance committee and board should periodically assess the evaluation process itself to determine whether it is resulting in meaningful takeaways, and whether changes are appropriate. This includes considering whether the board would benefit from trying new approaches to the evaluation process every few years.

Factors to consider in deciding what evaluation format to use include any specific objectives the board seeks to achieve through the evaluation process, aspects of the current evaluation process that have worked well, the board’s culture, and any concerns directors may have about confidentiality. And, we believe that every board should carefully consider “changing up” the evaluation process used from time to time so that the exercise does not become rote. What will be the most beneficial in any given year will depend on a variety of factors specific to the board and the company. For the board, this includes considerations of board refreshment and tenure, and developments the board may be facing, such as changes in board or committee leadership.  Factors relevant to the company include where the company is in its lifecycle, whether the company is in a period of relative stability, challenge or transformation, whether there has been a significant change in the company’s business or a senior management change, whether there is activist interest in the company and whether the company has recently gone through or is going through a crisis of some kind. Specific items that nominating/governance committees could consider as part of maintaining an effective evaluation process include:

  1. Revisit the content and focus of written questionnaires. Evaluation questionnaires should be updated each time they are used in order to reflect significant new developments, both in the external environment and internal to the board.
  2. “Change it up.”  If the board has been using the same written questionnaire, or the same evaluation format, for several years, consider trying something new for an upcoming annual evaluation. This can bring renewed vigor to the process, reengage the participants, and result in more meaningful feedback.
  3. Consider whether to bring in an external facilitator. Boards that have not previously used an outside party to assist in their evaluations should consider whether this would enhance the candor and overall effectiveness of the process.
  4. Engage in a meaningful discussion of the evaluation results. Unless the board does its evaluation using a discussion format, there should be time on the board’s agenda to discuss the evaluation results so that all directors have an opportunity to hear and discuss the feedback from the evaluation.
  5. Incorporate follow-up into the process. Regardless of the evaluation method used, it is critical to follow up on issues and concerns that emerge from the evaluation process. The process should include identifying concrete takeaways and formulating action items to address any concerns or areas for improvement that emerge from the evaluation. Senior management can be a valuable partner in this endeavor, and should be briefed as appropriate on conclusions reached as a result of the evaluation and related action items. The board also should consider its progress in addressing these items.
  6. Revisit disclosures.  Working with management, the nominating/governance committee and the board should discuss whether the company’s proxy disclosures, investor and governance website information and other communications to shareholders and potential investors contain meaningful, current information about the board evaluation process.

Endnotes:

[1] See NYSE Rule 303A.09, which requires listed companies to adopt and disclose a set of corporate governance guidelines that must address an annual performance evaluation of the board. The rule goes on to state that “[t]he board should conduct a self-evaluation at least annually to determine whether it and its committees are functioning effectively.” See also NYSE Rules 303A.07(b)(ii), 303A.05(b)(ii) and 303A.04(b)(ii) (requiring annual evaluations of the audit, compensation, and nominating/governance committees, respectively).
(go back)

[2] In addition, as discussed in the previous note, NYSE companies are required to address an annual evaluation of the board in their corporate governance guidelines.
(go back)

______________________________

*John Olson is a founding partner of the Washington, D.C. office at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and a visiting professor at the Georgetown Law Center.

Lettre aux PDG | Larry Fink


Larry Fink est fondateur, président et chef de la direction de BlackRock Inc.

Ce billet est basé sur la lettre annuelle de M. Fink aux chefs de la direction.

Cette lecture me semble « un must » pour les administrateurs. Dans sa lette l’auteur insiste sur la nécessité de s’adresser aux risques climatiques.

En janvier de l’année dernière, j’ai écrit que le risque climatique est un risque d’investissement. J’ai alors dit qu’au fur et à mesure que les marchés commenceraient à faire passer le risque climatique à la valeur des titres, cela déclencherait une réaffectation fondamentale du capital. Puis la pandémie s’est installe et, en mars, la sagesse conventionnelle était que la crise détournerait l’attention du climat. Mais, c’est exactement le contraire qui s’est produit, et la réaffectation du capital s’est accélérée encore plus rapidement que je ne l’avais prévu.

De janvier à novembre 2020, les investisseurs de fonds communs de placement et de FNB ont investi 288 milliards de dollars à l’échelle mondiale dans des actifs durables, soit une augmentation de 96 % par rapport à l’ensemble de 2019. Je crois que c’est le début d’une longue transition qui se déroulera à un rythme effarant et qui remodèlera les prix des actifs de tous types. Nous savons que le risque climatique est un risque d’investissement. Mais nous croyons aussi que la transition climatique représente une opportunité d’investissement historique.

 

Letter to CEOs (harvard.edu)

 

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink says climate change will soon reshape markets

Les grands investisseurs et la diversité des genres au sein des conseils : l’efficacité de la voix des actionnaires


Voici l’extrait d’un récent article portant sur l’effet des efforts de BlackRock, State Street et Vanguard pour accroître la diversité des genres dans les conseils d’administration.

L’article a été publié par Todd Gormley, professeur agrégé de finance à l’Université de Washington à la St. Louis Olin Business School, Vishal K. Gupta, professeur agrégé de gestion à l’Université de l’Alabama Culverhouse College of Business ; David A. Matsa, professeur de finance à la Kellogg School of Management de la Northwestern University ; Sandra Mortal, professeur de finance à l’Université de l’Alabama Culverhouse College of Business ; et Lukai Yang, candidat au doctorat à l’Université de l’Alabama.

En 2017, les investisseurs institutionnels « The Big Three » (BlackRock, State Street et Vanguard) ont lancé des campagnes pour accroître la diversité des genres dans les conseils d’administration.

En utilisant l’estimation de la différence dans les différences, nous constatons que leurs campagnes ont conduit les entreprises à ajouter au moins 2,5 fois plus de femmes administratrices en 2019 qu’elles l’avaient fait en 2016 et ont augmenté la probabilité pour une administratrice d’occuper un poste clé au sein du conseil, y compris de présidente des comités de gouvernance, de ressources humaines et d’audit.

Les résultats suggèrent que les entreprises ont réalisé ces gains en s’appuyant moins sur leurs réseaux existants pour identifier des candidats qualifiés et en mettant moins l’accent sur l’expérience des dirigeants et des conseils d’administration des candidats.

Les résultats mettent en évidence le potentiel du plaidoyer des actionnaires pour accroître la participation des femmes à la direction des entreprises et la capacité des investisseurs indiciels à influencer les structures de gouvernance des entreprises.

Pour avoir le portrait complet de l’étude, je vous invite à prendre connaissance du document de recherche ci-dessous.

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

The Big Three and Board Gender Diversity: The Effectiveness of Shareholder Voice

 

Gender Diversity at the Board Level Can Mean Innovation Success

Principes de gouvernance qui guident les investissements de BlackRock


BlackRock vient de publier sa position concernant les principes de gouvernance qui doivent guider ses investissements dans les sociétés de rang mondial.

BlackRock est une entreprise pionnière dans la divulgation des critères qu’elle prend en compte avant d’investir dans les organisations. C’est pour cette raison que toutes les personnes intéressées par les questions de gouvernance doivent être bien informées sur les grands principes qui soutiennent ses décisions.

Dans cet article publié par Sandra Boss, responsable mondiale de la gestion des investissements, Michelle Edkins, directrice générale du management des investissements et Shinbo Won, directeur du management des investissements chez BlackRock, inc., les auteurs présentent en détail les règles qui gouvernent les investissements de BlackRock.

Celles-ci sont considérées comme le « Gold standard » dans le monde de la gouvernance.

L’article ci-joint présente la philosophie de placement de l’organisation, ainsi que les principes qui recouvrent les sept thèmes suivants :

    • Conseils et administrateurs
    • Auditeurs et problèmes liés à l’audit
    • Structure du capital, fusions, ventes d’actifs et autres transactions spéciales
    • Rémunération et avantages
    • Problèmes environnementaux et sociaux
    • Questions générales de gouvernance d’entreprise et protection des actionnaires
    • Propositions d’actionnaires

Dans ce billet, je fais référence au premier thème, celui portant sur les principes devant guider la gouvernance des entreprises, notamment les questions relatives à la gouvernance et à la composition des conseils d’administration.

Pour en connaître davantage sur les autres principes, je vous invite à lire l’article au complet.

Bonne lecture !

BlackRock Investment Stewardship Global Principles

 

BlackRock assets reach $7.32T as crisis drives record investments | Fox Business

 

The purpose of this post is to provide an overarching explanation of BlackRock’s approach globally to our responsibilities as a shareholder on behalf of our clients, our expectations of companies, and our commitments to clients in terms of our own governance and transparency.

Introduction to BlackRock

BlackRock’s purpose is to help more and more people experience financial well-being. We manage assets on behalf of institutional and individual clients, across a full spectrum of investment strategies, asset classes, and regions. Our client base includes pension plans, endowments, foundations, charities, official institutions, insurers, and other financial institutions, as well as individuals around the world. As part of our fiduciary duty to our clients, we have determined that it is generally in the best long-term interest of our clients to promote sound corporate governance through voting as an informed, engaged shareholder. This is the responsibility of the Investment Stewardship Team.

Philosophy on investment stewardship

Companies are responsible for ensuring they have appropriate governance structures to serve the interests of shareholders and other key stakeholders. We believe that there are certain fundamental rights attached to shareholding. Companies and their boards should be accountable to shareholders and structured with appropriate checks and balances to ensure that they operate in shareholders’ best interests to create sustainable value. Shareholders should have the right to vote to elect, remove, and nominate directors, approve the appointment of the auditor, and amend the corporate charter or by-laws. Shareholders should be able to vote on matters that are material to the protection of their investment, including but not limited to, changes to the purpose of the business, dilution levels and pre-emptive rights, and the distribution of income and capital structure. In order to make informed decisions, we believe that shareholders have the right to sufficient and timely information. In addition, shareholder voting rights should be proportionate to their economic ownership—the principle of “one share, one vote” helps achieve this balance.

Consistent with these shareholder rights, we believe BlackRock has a responsibility to monitor and provide feedback to companies, in our role as stewards of our clients’ investments. BlackRock Investment Stewardship (“BIS”) does this through engagement with management teams and/or board members on material business issues including environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) matters and, for those clients who have given us authority, through voting proxies in the best long-term economic interests of our clients. We also participate in the public debate to shape global norms and industry standards with the goal of a policy framework consistent with our clients’ interests as long-term shareholders.

BlackRock looks to companies to provide timely, accurate, and comprehensive reporting on all material governance and business matters, including ESG issues. This allows shareholders to appropriately understand and assess how relevant risks and opportunities are being effectively identified and managed. Where company reporting and disclosure is inadequate or the approach taken is inconsistent with our view of what supports sustainable long-term value creation, we will engage with a company and/or use our vote to encourage a change in practice.

BlackRock views engagement as an important activity; engagement provides us with the opportunity to improve our understanding of the business and ESG risks and opportunities that are material to the companies in which our clients invest. As long-term investors on behalf of clients, we seek to have regular and continuing dialogue with executives and board directors to advance sound governance and sustainable business practices, as well as to understand the effectiveness of the company’s management and oversight of material issues. Engagement is an important mechanism for providing feedback on company practices and disclosures, particularly where we believe they could be enhanced. We primarily engage through direct dialogue but may use other tools such as written correspondence to share our perspectives. Engagement also informs our voting decisions.

We vote in support of management and boards where and to the extent they demonstrate an approach consistent with creating sustainable long-term value. If we have concerns about a company’s approach, we may choose to engage to explain our expectations. Where we consider that a company has failed to address one or more material issues within an appropriate timeframe, we may hold directors accountable or take other voting actions to signal our concerns. We apply our voting guidelines to achieve the outcome we believe is most aligned with our clients’ long-term economic interests.

Key themes

We recognize that accepted standards and norms of corporate governance differ between markets; however, there are sufficient common threads globally to identify this overarching set of principles (the “Principles”) which are anchored in transparency and accountability. At a minimum, we expect companies to observe the accepted corporate governance standards in their domestic market or to explain why not doing so supports sustainable long-term value creation.

Our regional and market-specific voting guidelines explain how these Principles inform our voting decisions in relation to specific ballot items for shareholder meetings.

These Principles cover seven key themes:

  • Boards and directors
  • Auditors and audit-related issues
  • Capital structure, mergers, asset sales, and other special transactions
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Environmental and social issues
  • General corporate governance matters and shareholder protections
  • Shareholder proposals

Boards and directors

The performance of the board is critical to the economic success of the company and the protection of shareholders’ interests. As part of their responsibilities, board members owe fiduciary duties to shareholders in overseeing the strategic direction and operation of the company. For this reason, BlackRock focuses on directors in many of our engagements and sees the election of directors as one of our most important responsibilities in the proxy voting context.

We support boards whose approach is consistent with creating sustainable long-term value. This includes the effective management of strategic, operational, and material ESG factors and the consideration of key stakeholder interests. Our primary focus is on the performance of the board of directors. The board should establish and maintain a framework of robust and effective governance mechanisms to support its oversight of the company’s strategic aims. We look to the board to articulate the effectiveness of these mechanisms in overseeing the management of business risks and opportunities and the fulfillment of the company’s purpose. Disclosure of material issues that affect the company’s long-term strategy and value creation, including material ESG factors, is essential for shareholders to be able to appropriately understand and assess how the board is effectively identifying, managing, and mitigating risks.

Where a company has not adequately disclosed and demonstrated these responsibilities, we will consider withholding our support for the re-election of directors whom we hold accountable. We assess director performance on a case-by-case basis and in light of each company’s particular circumstances, taking into consideration our assessment of their governance, sustainable business practices, and performance. In serving the interests of shareholders, the responsibility of the board of directors includes, but is not limited to, the following:

– Establishing an appropriate corporate governance structure

– Supporting and overseeing management in setting long-term strategic goals, applicable measures of value-creation and milestones that will demonstrate progress, and steps taken if any obstacles are anticipated or incurred

– Providing oversight on the identification and management of material, business operational and sustainability-related risks

– Overseeing the financial resilience of the company, the integrity of financial statements, and the robustness of a company’s Enterprise Risk Management [1] frameworks

– Making decisions on matters that require independent evaluation which may include mergers, acquisitions and disposals, activist situations or other similar cases

– Establishing appropriate executive compensation structures

– Addressing business issues, including environmental and social issues, when they have the potential to materially impact the company’s long-term value

There should be clear definitions of the role of the board, the committees of the board and senior management. We set out below ways in which boards and directors can demonstrate a commitment to acting in the best interests of long-term shareholders. We will seek to engage with the appropriate directors where we have concerns about the performance of the company, board, or individual directors. As noted above, we believe that when a company is not effectively addressing a material issue, its directors should be held accountable.

Regular accountability

BlackRock believes that directors should stand for re-election on a regular basis, ideally annually. In our experience, annual re-elections allow shareholders to reaffirm their support for board members or hold them accountable for their decisions in a timely manner. When board members are not re-elected annually, we believe it is good practice for boards to have a rotation policy to ensure that, through a board cycle, all directors have had their appointment re-confirmed, with a proportion of directors being put forward for re-election at each annual general meeting.

Effective board composition

Regular director elections also give boards the opportunity to adjust their composition in an orderly way to reflect the evolution of the company’s strategy and the market environment. BlackRock believes it is beneficial for new directors to be brought onto the board periodically to refresh the group’s thinking and in a manner that supports both continuity and appropriate succession planning. We expect companies to keep under regular review the effectiveness of its board (including its size), and assess directors nominated for election or re-election in the context of the composition of the board as a whole. This assessment should consider a number of factors, including the potential need to address gaps in skills or experience, the diversity of the board, and the balance of independent and non-independent directors. We also consider the average tenure of the overall board, where we are seeking a balance between the knowledge and experience of longer-serving members and the fresh perspectives of newer members.

When nominating new directors to the board, there should be detailed information on the individual candidates in order for shareholders to assess the suitability of an individual nominee and the overall board composition. These disclosures should give a clear sense of how the collective experience and expertise of the board aligns with the company’s long-term strategy and business model. We also expect disclosures to demonstrate how diversity is accounted for within the proposed board composition, including demographic factors such as gender, ethnicity, and age; as well as professional characteristics, such as a director’s industry experience, specialist areas of expertise, and geographic location.

We expect there to be a sufficient number of independent directors, free from conflicts of interest or undue influence from connected parties, to ensure objectivity in the decision-making of the board and its ability to oversee management.

Common impediments to independence may include but are not limited to:

  • Current or recent employment at the company or a subsidiary
  • Being, or representing, a shareholder with a substantial shareholding in the company
  • Interlocking directorships
  • Having any other interest, business, or other relationship which could, or could reasonably be perceived to, materially interfere with a director’s ability to act in the best interests of the company

BlackRock believes that the board is able to fulfill its fiduciary duty when there is a clearly independent, senior non-executive director to chair it or, where the chairman is also the CEO (or is otherwise not independent), a lead independent l director. The role of this director is to enhance the effectiveness of the independent members of the board through shaping the agenda, ensuring adequate information is provided to the board and encouraging independent participation in board deliberations. The lead independent director or another appropriate director should be available to shareholders in those situations where an independent director is best placed to explain and justify a company’s approach.

There are matters for which the board has responsibility that may involve a conflict of interest for executives or for affiliated directors. BlackRock believes that objective oversight of such matters is best achieved when the board forms committees comprised entirely of independent directors. In many markets, these committees of the board specialize in audit, director nominations and compensation matters. An ad hoc committee might also be formed to decide on a special transaction, particularly one involving a related party, or to investigate a significant adverse event.

Sufficient capacity

As the role of a director is demanding, directors must be able to commit an appropriate amount of time to board and committee matters. It is important that every director has the capacity to meet all of his/her responsibilities—including when there are unforeseen events—and therefore, he/she should not take on an excessive number of roles that would impair his/her ability to fulfill his/her duties.

Nouvelles préoccupations des conseils d’administration en réponse à la pandémie mondiale


Comment les conseils d’administration s’ajustent-ils aux chocs de la pandémie ? C’est ce que Holly J. Gregory, associée chez Sidley Austin LLP, a exploré dans son enquête auprès des corporations américaines.

Je vous invite à lire la version française de l’introduction de la publication, en utilisant l’outil de traduction de Google, lequel est certainement perfectible.

Bonne lecture !

À l’ère de turbulences économiques accrues, de troubles sociaux et de pandémie de COVID-19, les conseils d’administration des entreprises cotées ont dû explorer de nouvelles avenues en réponse aux risques émergents.

Des tendances interdépendantes sont apparues, notamment :

    • Un regain d’intérêt pour la raison d’être de l’entreprise dans la société, y compris son rôle dans la fourniture de biens et services qui répond aux besoins de base, ainsi que dans l’innovation.
    • Un déplacement de la primauté des actionnaires vers les intérêts d’un plus large éventail de parties prenantes.
    • Un intérêt croissant pour les questions environnementales, sociales et de gouvernance (ESG), en particulier le rôle de l’entreprise dans la résolution des problèmes sociaux, y compris les questions d’égalité raciale, de genre et de justice sociale.
    • Un accent accru sur la valeur du capital humain et les changements connexes dans la nature du travail et du lieu de travail.
    • Le potentiel de reconfiguration considérable des industries et des modèles d’affaires, ce qui soulève des inquiétudes quant à la continuité des activités.

Ces tendances façonneront l’orientation et les priorités du conseil d’administration en 2021. Bien que les priorités distinctives et leur importance varient d’un conseil à l’autre en fonction de circonstances uniques auxquelles l’entreprise est confrontée, les principaux domaines d’intervention sont susceptibles d’inclure :

    • Objectif de l’entreprise et questions environnementales, sociales et de gouvernance (ESG),
    • Questions relatives au capital humain, à la main-d’œuvre et à la culture
    • Planification stratégique pour une valeur durable à long terme
    • Délégation de la direction, performance, succession et rémunération
    • Engagement et activisme des actionnaires
    • Gestion des risques, préparation aux crises et conformité
    • Composition du conseil et planification de la relève

La majorité du temps du conseil devrait être réservée à la discussion de la stratégie d’entreprise et à l’évaluation de la qualité du rendement de la direction, y compris l’accent mis par la direction sur la continuité des activités, les opportunités et les risques.

Preparing for 2021: Staring into the abyss of uncertainty or planning for resilience?

Top 10 des billets publiés sur Harvard Law School Forum au 19 novembre 2020


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 19 novembre 2020.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

Top ten list Stock Photos, Royalty Free Top ten list Images | Depositphotos®

 

  1. Decision Making in 50:50 Joint Ventures
  2. Delaware Reaffirms Director Independence Principle in Founder-Led Company
  3. Shareholders’ Rights & Shareholder Activism 2020
  4. ESG Management and Board Accountability
  5. Financial Institution Regulation Under President Biden
  6. Corporations in 100 Pages
  7. Racial Equity on the Board Agenda
  8. The Rise of the General Counsel
  9. Revealing ESG in Critical Audit Matters
  10. SEC Division of Enforcement 2020 Annual Report

Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 1 er octobre 2020


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


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance Corporative au 10 septembre 2020.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Voici un sommaire des thèmes abordés :

Diversité, communication avec les parties prenantes, leadership, ESG, Gestion des risques en temps de pandémie, rémunération en réponse à la COVID-19.

Bonne lecture !

 

Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 3 septembre 2020


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance Corporative au 3 septembre 2020.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Voici un sommaire des thèmes abordés :

Objectifs des corporations, leadership, ESG, « Edge Fund », Gestion des risques en temps de pandémie, « CEO turnover », rémunération en réponse à la COVID-19.

Bonne lecture !

 

Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 27 août 2020


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 27 août 2020.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Voici un sommaire des thèmes abordés : rémunération des CEO, stakeholders vs stockholders, ESG, horizon à long terme, risques de cybersécurité, un aperçu de la divulgation des résultats de la saison.

Bonne lecture !

 

Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 20 août 2020


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 20 août 2020.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Voici les thèmes abordés : biais des gestionnaires, ESG, rémunération de la haute direction, théorie de l’actionnaire, resserrement des règles des firmes de conseil en votation, réunions virtuelles, réflexions sur les recommandations du Business Roundtable.

Bonne lecture !

 

Top 15 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 13 août 2020


Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 30 juillet 2020


Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 23 juillet 2020


Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 16 juillet 2020


Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 9 juillet 2020


Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 25 juin 2020


Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 4 juin 2020


Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 28 mai 2020