Guide pratique à l’intention des administrateurs qui cible les situations problématiques


Voici un guide pratique à l’intention des administrateurs de sociétés qui aborde les principales questions de gouvernance auxquelles ils sont confrontés.

Ce guide publié par Katherine Henderson et Amy Simmerman, associés de la firme Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, est un outil indispensable pour les administrateurs, mais surtout pour les présidents de conseil.

Les principaux thèmes abordés dans ce document sont les suivants :

    • Le but de l’entreprise et le rôle des parties prenantes ;
    • Le processus de délibération du conseil et la gestion des informations de nature corporative ;
    • L’indépendance des administrateurs et les conflits d’intérêts ;
    • Les conflits d’intérêt des actionnaires de contrôle ;
    • La formation des comités du conseil lors de situations délicates ;
    • Les procès-verbaux ;
    • La découverte de dossiers et de communications électroniques du CA par des actionnaires ;
    • Les obligations de surveillance des administrateurs et des dirigeants ;
    • Les informations relatives à la concurrence et aux occasions d’affaires de l’entreprise ;
    • La rémunération des administrateurs et l’approbation des actionnaires ;
    • La planification de la relève des administrateurs et des dirigeants.

Chaque point ci-dessus fait l’objet de conseils pratiques à l’intention du conseil d’administration. Voici un bref extrait du guide.

Vous pouvez télécharger le document complet en cliquant sur le lien ci-dessous.

Bonne lecture !

A Guidebook to Boardroom Governance Issues

 

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In recent years, we have seen boards and management increasingly grapple with a recurring set of governance issues in the boardroom. This publication is intended to distill the most prevalent issues in one place and provide our clients with a useful and practical overview of the state of the law and appropriate ways to address complex governance problems. This publication is designed to be valuable both to public and private companies, and various governance issues overlap across those spaces, although certainly some of these issues will take on greater prominence depending on whether a company is public or private. There are other important adjacent topics not covered in this publication—for example, the influence of stockholder activism or the role of proxy advisory firms. Our focus here is on the most sensitive issues that arise internally within the boardroom, to help directors and management run the affairs of the corporation responsibly and limit their own exposure in the process.

La rémunération en lien avec la performance | Qu’en est-il ?


Aujourd’hui, je vous propose la lecture d’un article publié par Cydney S. Posner, conseiller spécial de la firme Cooley, paru sur le site de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance.

La nouvelle politique du Council of Institutional Investors (CII) concernant les rémunérations vient de paraître.

La nouvelle politique aborde plusieurs sujets :

    • Des plans de compensation moins complexes ;
    • De plus longues périodes de performance pour fixer les rémunérations liées à des incitatifs de rendement ;
    • Retarder le paiement des actions possédées par la direction après le départ afin de s’assurer de la correspondance avec les exigences du plan de compensation ;
    • Plus de latitude dans les décisions de rappels (clawbacks) ;
    • Utilisation de la référence au salaire moyen des employés afin de fixer les rémunérations de la direction ;
    • Supervision plus étroite des plans de rémunération en fonction des performances ;
    • Une plus grande importance accordée à la portion fixe de la rémunération.

Le CII propose donc des balises beaucoup plus claires et resserrées eu égard aux rémunérations de la direction des entreprises publiques. Il s’agit d’une petite révolution dans le monde des rémunérations de tout acabit.

Je vous invite à lire le résumé ci-dessous pour avoir plus d’informations sur le sujet.

Pay for Performance—A Mirage?

 

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Yes, it can be, according to the Executive Director of the Council of Institutional Investors, in announcing CII’s new policy on executive comp. Among other ideas, the new policy calls for plans with less complexity (who can’t get behind that?), longer performance periods for incentive pay, hold-beyond-departure requirements for shares held by executives, more discretion to invoke clawbacks, rank-and-file pay as a valid reference marker for executive pay, heightened scrutiny of pay-for-performance plans and perhaps greater reliance on—of all things—fixed pay. It’s back to the future for compensation!

Simplified and tailored plans

CII recommends that comp plans and practices be tailored for each company’s circumstances and that they be comprehensible: compensation practices that comp committees “would find difficult to explain to investors in reasonable detail are prime candidates for simplification or elimination.” In addition, performance periods for long-term compensation should be long term—at least five years, not the typical three-year time horizon for restricted stock.

Reference points and peers

To address the widening gap in compensation between workers and executives, CII recommends that the Comp Committee take into consideration employee compensation throughout the company as a reference point for setting executive pay, consistent with the company’s strategic objectives. In addition, CII cautions against overreliance on benchmarking to peer practices, which can lead to escalating executive comp. Understanding what peers are doing is one thing, but copying their pay practices is quite another, especially if performance of those peers is markedly different. CII also warns comp committees to “guard against opportunistic peer group selection. Compensation committees should disclose to investors the basis for the particular peers selected, and should aim for consistency over time with the peer companies they select. If companies use multiple peer groups, the reasons for such an approach should be made clear to investors.”

Elements of comp

With regard to elements of comp, the message again is simplification. While most U.S. companies pay programs consist of three elements—salary, annual bonus and a long-term incentive—it may make sense in some cases to focus only on salary and a single long-term incentive plan, reserving short-term incentives for special circumstances such as turnarounds.

Time-based restricted stock

CII seems to have a soft spot for time-based restricted stock with extended vesting periods (we’re talking here about beginning to vest after five years and fully vesting over 10 (including post-employment). CII believes that this type of award provides

“an appropriate balance of risk and reward, while providing particularly strong alignment between shareholders and executives. Extended vesting periods reduce attention to short-term distractions and outcomes. As full-value awards, restricted stock ensures that executives feel positive and negative long-term performance equally, just as shareholders do. Restricted stock is more comprehensible and easier to value than performance-based equity, providing clarity not only to award recipients, but also to compensation committee members and shareholders trying to evaluate appropriateness and rigor of pay plans.”

Performance-based pay

CII’s sharpest dagger seems to be out for performance-based comp, which has long been the sine qua non of executive compensation to many comp consultants and other comp professionals. According to ISS, “equity-based compensation became increasingly performance-based in the past decade. As a percentage of total equity compensation, performance-based equity almost doubled between 2009 and 2018. Cash performance-based compensation has remained relatively unchanged. Overall, cash and equity performance-based compensation now make up approximately 58 percent of total pay, compared to 34 percent in 2019.” CII cautions that comp committees need to “apply rigorous oversight and care” to this type of compensation. Although cash incentive plans or performance stock units may be appropriate to incentivize “near-term outcomes that generate progress toward the achievement of longer-term performance,” performance-based plans can be problematic for a number of reasons: they can be too complex and confusing, difficult to value, “more vulnerable to obfuscation” and often based on non-GAAP “adjusted” measures that are not reconciled to GAAP. What’s more, CII believes that performance-based plans are

“susceptible to manipulation. Executives may use their influence and information advantage to advocate for the selection of metrics and targets that will deliver substantial rewards even without superior performance (e.g., target awards earned for median performance versus peers). Except in extraordinary situations, the compensation committee should not ‘lower the bar’ by changing performance targets in the middle of performance cycles. If the committee decides that changes in performance targets are warranted in the middle of a performance cycle, it should disclose the reasons for the change and details of the initial targets and adjusted targets.”

In CII’s view, comp committees need to ensure that these plans are not so complex that they cannot be

“well understood by both participants and shareholders, that the underlying performance metrics support the company’s business strategy, and that potential payouts are aligned with the performance levels that will generate them. In addition, the proxy statement should clearly explain such plans, including their purpose in context of the business strategy and how the award and performance targets, and the resulting payouts, are determined. Finally, the committee should consider whether long-vesting restricted shares or share units would better achieve the company’s long-term compensation and performance objectives, versus routinely awarding a majority of executives’ pay in the form of performance shares.”

SideBar

As discussed in this article in the WSJ, executive compensation has been “increasingly linked to performance,” but investors have recently been asking whether the bar for performance targets is set too low to be effective. Has the prevalence of performance metrics had the effect (whether or not intended) of lifting executive compensation? According to the article, based on ISS data, for about two-thirds of CEOs of companies in the S&P 500, overall pay “over the past three years proved higher than initial targets….That is typically because performance triggers raised the number of shares CEOs received, or stock gains lifted the value of the original grant. On average, compensation was 16% higher than the target.” In addition, for 2016, about half of the CEOs of the S&P 500 received cash incentives above the performance target payout levels, averaging 46% higher, while only 150 of these companies were paid bonuses below target.

And sometimes, the WSJ contends, pay may be exceeding performance targets because those targets are set at levels that are, shall we say, not exactly challenging. According to the head of analytics at ISS, in some cases, “’the company is setting goals they think the CEO is going to clear….It’s a tip-off to investors.’” The article reports that, based on a 2016 analysis, ISS concluded that about 186 of the Fortune 500 expected that the equity awards granted to their CEOs would pay out above target, 122 at target and 150 below target. The head of corporate governance for a major institutional investor expressed his concern that, sometimes, the bar is set “too low, allowing CEOs to earn ‘premium payouts in the absence of compelling performance relative to the market.’’’ In selecting metrics and setting targets, comp committees “must juggle a range of factors,” taking into account the preferences of investors and proxy advisers, as well as the recommendations of consultants.’’ However, he said, “‘[i]t has to be the right measure and the right achievement level.”’ (See this PubCo post.)

Fixed pay

And speaking of simplicity, if CII had its way, fixed pay would be making a comeback. CII’s new policy characterizes fixed pay as

“a legitimate element of senior executive compensation. Compensation committees should carefully consider and determine the right risk balance for the particular company and executive. It can be appropriate to emphasize fixed pay (which essentially has no risk for the employee) as a significant pay element, particularly where it makes sense to disincentivize ‘bet the company’ risk taking and promote stability. Fixed pay also has the advantage of being easy to understand and value, for the company, the executive and shareholders. That said, compensation committees should set pay considering risk-adjusted value, and so, to the extent that fixed pay is a relatively large element, compensation committees need to moderate pay levels in comparison with what would be awarded with contingent, variable pay.”

SideBar

The global economic crisis of 2008 led many to question whether large bonuses and stock options were motivations behind the overly risky behavior and short-term strategies that many argue had triggered that crisis. But the answer that most often resulted was to structure the compensation “differently so that the variable component motivates the right behaviors.” However, in a 2016 essay in the Harvard Business Review, two academics made a case for fixed pay, contending that performance-based pay for CEOs makes absolutely no sense: research on incentives and motivation suggests that the nature of a CEO’s work is unsuited to performance-based pay. Moreover, “performance-based pay can actually have dangerous outcomes for companies that implement it.” According to the academics, research has shown that, while performance-based pay works well for routine tasks, the types of work performed by CEOs are typically not routine; performance-related incentives, the authors argue, are actually “detrimental when the [task] is not standard and requires creativity.” Where innovative, non-standard solutions were needed or learning was required, research “results showed that a large percentage of variable pay hurt performance.” Why not, they propose, pay top executives a fixed salary only? (See this PubCo post.)

Similarly, as discussed in this PubCo post, a New Yorker columnist concurs with the contention that performance pay does not really work for CEOs because the types of tasks that a CEO performs, such as deep analysis or creative problem solving, are typically not susceptible to performance incentives: “paying someone ten million dollars isn’t going to make that person more creative or smarter.’” In addition, the argument goes, performance is often tied to goals that CEOs don’t really control, like stock price (see this PubCo post and this news brief).

Stock ownership guidelines

CII also encourages companies to maintain stock ownership guidelines that apply for at least one year post termination; executives “not in compliance should be barred from liquidating stock-based awards (beyond tax obligations) until satisfaction of the guideline.” For some companies it may even be appropriate to apply “a hold-to-departure requirement or hold-beyond-departure requirement for all stock-based awards held by the highest-level executives is an appropriate and workable commitment to long-termism. Other boards may consider such restrictions unnecessary to the extent that awards include extended vesting periods.”

Clawbacks

Finally, CII advocates that boards have more discretion to invoke clawback policies. According to CII, clawbacks should apply, not only in the event of acts or omissions resulting in fraud or financial restatement, but also in the context of “some other cause the board believes warrants recovery, which may include personal misconduct or ethical lapses that cause, or could cause, material reputational harm to the company and its shareholders. Companies should disclose such policies and decisions to invoke their application.”

Les critères de benchmarking d’ISS eu égard aux guides de saine gouvernance


Les auteurs* de cet article, paru dans le Forum du Harvard Law School, présentent les résultats d’un survey sur quatre grandes dimensions de la gouvernance des sociétés cotées.

Les sujets touchent :

(1) board composition/accountability, including gender diversity, mitigating factors for zero women on boards and overboarding;

(2) board/capital structure, including sunsets on multi-class shares and the combined CEO/chair role;

(3) compensation ; and

(4) climate change risk oversight and disclosure.

Les points importants à retenir de cet article sont indiqués en bleu dans le sommaire.

Bonne lecture !

ISS 2019 Benchmarking Policy Survey—Key Findings

 

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[On Sept. 11, 2019], Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) announced the results of its 2019 Global Policy Survey (a.k.a. ISS 2019 Benchmark Policy Survey) based on respondents including investors, public company executives and company advisors. ISS will use these results to inform its policies for shareholder meetings occurring on or after February 1, 2020. ISS expects to solicit comments in the latter half of October 2019 on its draft policy updates and release its final policies in mid-November 2019.

While the survey included questions targeting both global and designated geographic markets, the key questions affecting the U.S. markets fell into the following categories: (1) board composition/accountability, including gender diversity, mitigating factors for zero women on boards and overboarding; (2) board/capital structure, including sunsets on multi-class shares and the combined CEO/chair role; (3) compensation; and (4) climate change risk oversight and disclosure. We previously provided an overview of the survey questions.

The ISS report distinguishes responses from investors versus non-investors. Investors primarily include asset managers, asset owners, and institutional investor advisors. In contrast, non-investors mainly comprise public company executives, public company board members, and public company advisors.

Key Takeaways

Only 128 investors and 268 non-investors (85% were corporate executives) participated in the survey. While the results overall are not surprising for the survey questions relating to board diversity, overboarding, inclusion of GAAP metrics for comparison in compensation-related reports and climate change matters, the level of support for multi-class structures with sunsets was surprisingly high.

Summary

1. Board Composition/Accountability

a. Board Gender Diversity Including Mitigating Factors for Zero Women on Boards: Both investors (61%) and non-investors (55%) indicated that board gender diversity is an essential attribute of effective board governance regardless of the company or its market. Among respondents who do not believe diversity is essential, investors tended to favor a market-by-market approach and non-investors tended to favor an analysis conducted at the company level.

Another question elicited views on ISS’s diversity policy that will be effective in 2020. Under the new policy, ISS will recommend voting against the nominating committee chair (or other members as appropriate) at Russell 3000 and/or S&P 1500 companies that do not have at least one female director. Before ISS issues a negative recommendation on this basis, ISS intends to consider mitigating factors.

The survey questioned what other mitigating factors a respondent would consider besides a company’s providing a firm commitment to appointing a woman in the near-term and having recently had a female on the board. The survey provided the following three choices and invited respondents to check all that apply: (1) the Rooney Rule, which involves a commitment to including females in the pool of new director candidates; (2) a commitment to actively searching for a female director; and (3) other.

Results show that investors were more likely than non-investors to answer that no other mitigating factors should be considered (46% of the investors compared to 28% of the non-investors) besides a recent former female director or a firm commitment to appoint a woman. With regard to willingness to consider mitigating factors, 57 investors and 141 non-investors checked at least one answer. More non-investors found a company’s observance of the Rooney Rule to be a mitigating factor worth considering (selected by 113 non-investors) than the company’s commitment to conduct an active search (selected by 85 non-investors). These two factors were each selected by 34 investors.

b. Director Overboarding: The survey responses show investors and non-investors appear to hold diverging positions on director overboarding. On a plurality basis, investors (42%) preferred a maximum of four total board seats for non-executive directors while they (45%) preferred a maximum of two board seats (including the “home” board) for CEOs. In comparison, on a plurality basis, about one third of non-investors preferred to leave the determination to the board’s discretion for both non-executive directors and CEOs.

2. Board/Capital Structure

a. Multi-Class Structures and Sunset Provisions: Results reveal that 55% of investors and 47% of non-investors found a seven-year maximum sunset provision appropriate for a multi-class structure. Among respondents who indicated that a maximum seven-year sunset provision was inappropriate, 36% of non-investors replied that a longer sunset (10 years or more) was appropriate and 35% of investors objected to any form of multi-class structure.

b. Independent Chair: Currently, ISS generally supports shareholder proposals that request an independent board chair after taking into consideration a wide variety of factors such as the company’s financial practices, governance structure and governance practices. ISS asked participants to indicate which factors the respondent considers and listed factors for respondents to choose from, such as a weak or poorly defined lead director role, governance practices that weaken or reduce board accountability to shareholders, lack of board refreshment or board diversity, and poor responsiveness to shareholder concerns. Respondents were instructed to check all that applied.

The results unsurprisingly suggest that investors prefer an independent board chair more than non-investors. Investors chose poor responsiveness to shareholder concerns most often whereas non-investors selected the factor relating to a weak or poorly defined lead director role.

Investors’ second highest selection was governance practices that weaken or reduce board accountability to shareholders (such as a classified board, plurality vote standard, lack of ability to call special meetings and lack of a proxy access right). For non-investors, poor responsiveness to shareholder concerns was the second highest selection.

3. Compensation

a. Economic Value Added (EVA) and GAAP Metrics: Beginning in 2019, ISS research reports for the U.S. and Canadian markets started to include additional information on company performance using an EVA-based framework. Survey results showed that a strong majority of respondents still want GAAP metrics to be provided in the research reports as a means of comparison.

4. Climate Change Risk Oversight & Disclosure

a. Disclosures and Actions Relating to Climate Change Risk: The ISS survey asked respondents whether climate change should be given a high priority in companies’ risk assessments. ISS questioned whether all companies should be assessing and disclosing their climate-related risks and taking actions to mitigate them where possible.

Results show that 60% of investors answered that all companies should be assessing and disclosing climate-related risks and taking mitigating actions where possible. Roughly one third of investors indicated that “each company’s appropriate level of disclosure and action will depend on a variety of factors including its own business model, its industry sector, where and how it operates, and other company-specific factors and board members.” In addition, 5% of investors thought the possible risks related to climate change are often too uncertain to incorporate into a company-specific risk assessment model.

b. Shareholder Action in Response to a Company’s Failure to Report or Mitigate Climate Change Risk: Investors and non-investors indicated that the most appropriate actions to consider when a company fails to effectively report or address its climate change risk are (a) engaging with the company, and (b) voting for a shareholder proposal seeking increased climate-related disclosure.

 


*Betty Moy Huber is counsel and Paula H. Simpkins is an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP.

Quelles sont les responsabilités dévolues à un conseil d’administration ?


En gouvernance des sociétés, il existe un certain nombre de responsabilités qui relèvent impérativement d’un conseil d’administration.

À la suite d’une décision rendue par la Cour Suprême du Delaware dans l’interprétation de la doctrine Caremark (voir ici),il est indiqué que pour satisfaire leur devoir de loyauté, les administrateurs de sociétés doivent faire des efforts raisonnables (de bonne foi) pour mettre en œuvre un système de surveillance et en faire le suivi.

Without more, the existence of management-level compliance programs is not enough for the directors to avoid Caremark exposure.

L’article de Martin Lipton *, paru sur le Forum de Harvard Law School on Corporate Governance, fait le point sur ce qui constitue les meilleures pratiques de gouvernance à ce jour.

Bonne lecture !

 

Spotlight on Boards

 

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  1. Recognize the heightened focus of investors on “purpose” and “culture” and an expanded notion of stakeholder interests that includes employees, customers, communities, the economy and society as a whole and work with management to develop metrics to enable the corporation to demonstrate their value;
  2. Be aware that ESG and sustainability have become major, mainstream governance topics that encompass a wide range of issues, such as climate change and other environmental risks, systemic financial stability, worker wages, training, retraining, healthcare and retirement, supply chain labor standards and consumer and product safety;
  3. Oversee corporate strategy (including purpose and culture) and the communication of that strategy to investors, keeping in mind that investors want to be assured not just about current risks and problems, but threats to long-term strategy from global, political, social, and technological developments;
  4. Work with management to review the corporation’s strategy, and related disclosures, in light of the annual letters to CEOs and directors, or other communications, from BlackRock, State Street, Vanguard, and other investors, describing the investors’ expectations with respect to corporate strategy and how it is communicated;
  5. Set the “tone at the top” to create a corporate culture that gives priority to ethical standards, professionalism, integrity and compliance in setting and implementing both operating and strategic goals;
  6. Oversee and understand the corporation’s risk management, and compliance plans and efforts and how risk is taken into account in the corporation’s business decision-making; monitor risk management ; respond to red flags if and when they arise;
  7. Choose the CEO, monitor the CEO’s and management’s performance and develop and keep current a succession plan;
  8. Have a lead independent director or a non-executive chair of the board who can facilitate the functioning of the board and assist management in engaging with investors;
  9. Together with the lead independent director or the non-executive chair, determine the agendas for board and committee meetings and work with management to ensure that appropriate information and sufficient time are available for full consideration of all matters;
  10. Determine the appropriate level of executive compensation and incentive structures, with awareness of the potential impact of compensation structures on business priorities and risk-taking, as well as investor and proxy advisor views on compensation;
  11. Develop a working partnership with the CEO and management and serve as a resource for management in charting the appropriate course for the corporation;
  12. Monitor and participate, as appropriate, in shareholder engagement efforts, evaluate corporate governance proposals, and work with management to anticipate possible takeover attempts and activist attacks in order to be able to address them more effectively, if they should occur;
  13. Meet at least annually with the team of company executives and outside advisors that will advise the corporation in the event of a takeover proposal or an activist attack;
  14. Be open to management inviting an activist to meet with the board to present the activist’s opinion of the strategy and management of the corporation;
  15. Evaluate the individual director’s, board’s and committees’ performance on a regular basis and consider the optimal board and committee composition and structure, including board refreshment, expertise and skill sets, independence and diversity, as well as the best way to communicate with investors regarding these issues;
  16. Review corporate governance guidelines and committee workloads and charters and tailor them to promote effective board and committee functioning;
  17. Be prepared to deal with crises; and
  18. Be prepared to take an active role in matters where the CEO may have a real or perceived conflict, including takeovers and attacks by activist hedge funds focused on the CEO.

 

Afin de satisfaire ces attentes, les entreprises publiques doivent :

 

  1. Have a sufficient number of directors to staff the requisite standing and special committees and to meet investor expectations for experience, expertise, diversity, and periodic refreshment;
  2. Compensate directors commensurate with the time and effort that they are required to devote and the responsibility that they assume;
  3. Have directors who have knowledge of, and experience with, the corporation’s businesses and with the geopolitical developments that affect it, even if this results in the board having more than one director who is not “independent”;
  4. Have directors who are able to devote sufficient time to preparing for and attending board and committee meetings and engaging with investors;
  5. Provide the directors with the data that is critical to making sound decisions on strategy, compensation and capital allocation;
  6. Provide the directors with regular tutorials by internal and external experts as part of expanded director education and to assure that in complicated, multi-industry and new-technology corporations, the directors have the information and expertise they need to respond to disruption, evaluate current strategy and strategize beyond the horizon; and
  7. Maintain a truly collegial relationship among and between the company’s senior executives and the members of the board that facilitates frank and vigorous discussion and enhances the board’s role as strategic partner, evaluator, and monitor.

_________________________________________________________

Martin Lipton* is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy. This post is based on a Wachtell Lipton memorandum by Mr. Lipton and is part of the Delaware law series; links to other posts in the series are available here.

Composition du conseil d’administration d’OSBL et recrutement d’administrateurs | En rappel


Ayant collaboré à la réalisation du volume « Améliorer la gouvernance de votre OSBL » des auteurs Jean-Paul Gagné et Daniel Lapointe, j’ai obtenu la primeur de la publication d’un chapitre sur mon blogue en gouvernance.

Pour donner un aperçu de cette importante publication sur la gouvernance des organisations sans but lucratif (OSBN), j’ai eu la permission des éditeurs, Éditions Caractère et Éditions Transcontinental, de publier l’intégralité du chapitre 4 qui porte sur la composition du conseil d’administration et le recrutement d’administrateurs d’OSBL.

Je suis donc très fier de vous offrir cette primeur et j’espère que le sujet vous intéressera suffisamment pour vous inciter à vous procurer cette nouvelle publication.

Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, un court extrait de la page d’introduction du chapitre 4. Je vous invite à cliquer sur le lien suivant pour avoir accès à l’intégralité du chapitre.

 

La composition du conseil d’administration et le recrutement d’administrateurs

 

 

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Vous pouvez également feuilleter cet ouvrage en cliquant ici

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

__________________________________

 

Les administrateurs d’un OSBL sont généralement élus dans le cadre d’un processus électoral tenu lors d’une assemblée générale des membres. Ils peuvent aussi faire l’objet d’une cooptation ou être désignés en vertu d’un mécanisme particulier prévu dans une loi (tel le Code des professions).

L’élection des administrateurs par l’assemblée générale emprunte l’un ou l’autre des deux scénarios suivants:

1. Les OSBL ont habituellement des membres qui sont invités à une assemblée générale annuelle et qui élisent des administrateurs aux postes à pourvoir. Le plus souvent, les personnes présentes sont aussi appelées à choisir l’auditeur qui fera la vérification des états financiers de l’organisation pour l’exercice en cours.

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2. Certains OSBL n’ont pas d’autres membres que leurs administrateurs. Dans ce cas, ces derniers se transforment une fois par année en membres de l’assemblée générale, élisent des administrateurs aux postes vacants et choisissent l’auditeur qui fera la vérification des états financiers de l’organisation pour l’exercice en cours.

 

La cooptation autorise le recrutement d’administrateurs en cours d’exercice. Les personnes ainsi choisies entrent au CA lors de la première réunion suivant celle où leur nomination a été approuvée. Ils y siègent de plein droit, en dépit du fait que celle-ci ne sera entérinée qu’à l’assemblée générale annuelle suivante. La cooptation n’est pas seulement utile pour pourvoir rapidement aux postes vacants; elle a aussi comme avantage de permettre au conseil de faciliter la nomination de candidats dont le profil correspond aux compétences recherchées.

Dans les organisations qui élisent leurs administrateurs en assemblée générale, la sélection en fonction des profils déterminés peut présenter une difficulté : en effet, il peut arriver que les membres choisissent des administrateurs selon des critères qui ont peu à voir avec les compétences recherchées, telles leur amabilité, leur popularité, etc. Le comité du conseil responsable du recrutement d’administrateurs peut présenter une liste de candidats (en mentionnant leurs qualifications pour les postes à pourvoir) dans l’espoir que l’assemblée lui fasse confiance et les élise. Certains organismes préfèrent coopter en cours d’exercice, ce qui les assure de recruter un administrateur qui a le profil désiré et qui entrera en fonction dès sa sélection.

Quant à l’élection du président du conseil et, le cas échéant, du vice-président, du secrétaire et du trésorier, elle est généralement faite par les administrateurs. Dans les ordres professionnels, le Code des professions leur permet de déterminer par règlement si le président est élu par le conseil d’administration ou au suffrage universel des membres. Comme on l’a vu, malgré son caractère démocratique, l’élection du président au suffrage universel des membres présente un certain risque, puisqu’un candidat peut réussir à se faire élire à ce poste sans expérience du fonctionnement d’un CA ou en poursuivant un objectif qui tranche avec la mission, la vision ou encore le plan stratégique de l’organisation. Cet enjeu ne doit pas être pris à la légère par le CA. Une façon de minimiser ce risque est de faire connaître aux membres votants le profil recherché pour le président, profil qui aura été préalablement établi par le conseil. On peut notamment y inclure une expérience de conseil d’administration, ce qui aide à réduire la période d’apprentissage du nouveau président et facilite une transition en douceur.

ÉTAT DE LA GOUVERNANCE DE SOCIÉTÉS COTÉES DU QUÉBEC EN 2018


Je vous invite à prendre connaissance d’un document incontournable sur l’état de la gouvernance de sociétés cotées du Québec en 2018.

Le rapport publié par la Chaire de recherche en gouvernance de sociétés de l’Université Laval fait suite à l’étude de Jean Bédard, Ph. D., FCPA, professeur et titulaire de la Chaire et de Jérôme Deschênes, Ph. D., MBA, professionnel de recherche.

Le rapport présente « l’état actuel de la gouvernance des sociétés québécoises dont les actions sont inscrites à la Bourse de Toronto (TSX) et à la Bourse de croissance TSX (TSXV) en 2018 et son évolution par rapport à l’année 2013 ».

Vous trouverez ci-dessous le sommaire de l’étude.

Le rapport complet est accessible en cliquant sur ce lien suivant : ÉTAT DE LA GOUVERNANCE DE SOCIÉTÉS COTÉES DU QUÉBEC EN 2018

Bonne lecture !

ÉTAT DE LA GOUVERNANCE DE SOCIÉTÉS COTÉES DU QUÉBEC EN 2018

 

 

chaireGouvernance

 

 

Ce rapport présente notre analyse de l’état actuel de la gouvernance des sociétés québécoises dont les actions sont inscrites à la Bourse de Toronto (TSX) et à la Bourse de croissance TSX (TSXV). Notre intérêt est centré sur la documentation se rapportant au dernier cycle d’assemblée générale des actionnaires (2018). Néanmoins, afin d’obtenir un point de comparaison historique, nous faisons également état de la situation au cours du cycle de 2013. Cet écart de cinq années nous permet un regard plus approfondi sur l’évolution de la situation au cours de cette période.

 

CONSEIL TYPE

 

En 2018, le conseil d’administration typique des 87 sociétés québécoises inscrites à la TSX est composé de neuf administrateurs. De ceux-ci, sept sont indépendants, un est lié et l’autre est PDG de la société. Ce conseil se réunit huit fois par année et a mis en place trois comités : un comité d’audit prescrit par la loi, un comité de gouvernance (82%) et un comité de ressources humaines (62%). Pour les 88 sociétés inscrites à la TSXV, le conseil d’administration typique est composé de six administrateurs, dont quatre indépendants, moins d’un administrateur lié et deux hauts dirigeants de la société. Le conseil se réunit six fois par année et comprend deux comités. En plus du comité d’audit, 43% des sociétés inscrites à la TSXV ont un comité de gouvernance et 34% ont un comité de ressources humaines. Dans plusieurs cas, les fonctions de ces deux comités sont regroupées sous un seul comité. Le conseil d’administration type de 2018 est similaire à celui de 2013, tant pour les sociétés de la TSX que celles de la TSXV.

 

ADMINISTRATEUR TYPE

 

L’administrateur type d’une société de la TSX est un homme résidant au Québec et âgé de 63 ans. Il est en poste depuis huit ans et n’est administrateur d’aucune autre société inscrite en bourse. Il assiste à 97% des réunions du conseil. Malgré le fait que l’administrateur type a peu changé entre 2013 et 2018, on note une plus grande proportion de femmes en 2018 ainsi qu’une plus grande proportion d’administrateurs issus d’autres pays. L’administrateur type reçoit une rémunération totale de 141 000 $, principalement sous forme d’honoraires (58%) et d’actions (32%). Sa rémunération totale a augmenté de 18% depuis 2013. De plus, sa rémunération sous forme d’options a diminué de plus de la moitié par rapport à 2013 et ne représente plus que 5% de la rémunération totale. Bien entendu, plus la société a une grande valeur boursière, plus la rémunération est élevée. L’administrateur type d’une société de la TSXV est aussi un homme résidant au Québec, mais il est plus jeune que celui de la TSX, étant âgé de 59 ans. Il est en poste depuis six ans et n’est administrateur d’aucune autre société inscrite en bourse. Il assiste à 98% des réunions du conseil. Il reçoit une rémunération de 10 000 $ sous forme d’honoraires. Il reçoit une rémunération équivalente ou supérieure sous forme d’options.

 

RENOUVELLEMENT DES CONSEILS

 

En 2018, 11% des administrateurs des sociétés de la TSX et 16% de celles de la TSXV sont de nouveaux membres du conseil. Conséquemment, un conseil type est entièrement renouvelé tous les 8 ou 9 ans. Les nouveaux membres de conseils des sociétés de la TSX (TSXV) sont, comme leurs collègues déjà en poste, à 84% (92%) des hommes résidant au Québec et indépendants. Ils sont en moyenne cinq ans plus jeunes que la population d’administrateurs de ces deux bourses.

 

INFORMATION RELATIVE À LA GOUVERNANCE

 

En vertu de la réglementation de l’Autorité des marchés financiers, les sociétés inscrites en bourse doivent communiquer des informations à propos du conseil et de ses membres pour permettre aux investisseurs et autres parties prenantes d’évaluer la qualité de la gouvernance de la société et leur permettre de prendre une décision éclairée quant à leur vote à l’assemblée annuelle. Notre collecte d’information a mis en lumière divers éléments qui limitent la capacité des parties prenantes à obtenir une bonne compréhension de la gouvernance d’une société. Pour les sociétés de la TSX, il faut consulter deux documents (la circulaire de sollicitation de procurations et la notice annuelle) pour obtenir toutes les informations relatives aux administrateurs et au conseil. De plus, dans la circulaire, la section où se retrouvent certaines informations varie d’une société à l’autre. Finalement, les allègements consentis aux sociétés de la TSXV quant à la communication de certaines informations limitent la capacité à évaluer la gouvernance sur ces dimensions.

Étude sur la rémunération globale des CEO américains, canadiens et européens


Aujourd’hui, je vous propose la lecture d’un article publié par Andrew Ludwig*, chercheur senior de la firme Equilar, paru sur le forum de Harvard Law School.

La publication présente les rémunérations globales des CEO pour six pays, dont le Canada, sur une période de cinq ans.

L’étude montre que les rémunérations des CEO canadiens sont nettement inférieures à celles des autres pays et que les écarts annuels sont faibles comparativement aux cinq autres pays.

Bonne lecture !

 

CEO Pay Trends Around the Globe

 

Since the passage of Say on Pay under the Dodd-Frank Act in July 2010, greater attention has been paid to executive compensation in an effort to bring transparency and oversight to the total compensation of executives of U.S. public companies. In 2018, the SEC expanded the Dodd-Frank Act further with Section 953(b), requiring companies to disclose the ratio of the total compensation of the chief executive officer to that of the median employee on an annual basis.

This past May, Equilar and The New York Times released the 12th annual 200 Highest-Paid CEOs study. The study not only included 2017 total CEO compensation but also the change in pay from the previous year and an interactive table, allowing users to explore the list and sort by the pay ratio disclosed in each of the companies’ 2018 proxies. While these regulations pertain solely to the United States, they do not govern foreign companies. As a result, a new study from Equilar analyzed how the compensation of CEOs of medium-sized companies in Europe and Canada compares to those in the U.S.

 

 

An analysis of Equilar’s extensive CEO compensation data from mid-sized companies—defined as companies with revenues between $1-5 billion—over the past five years (2018 defined as filing dates of from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018) revealed that the median total compensation of U.S. CEOs has generally increased from year-to-year, with the exception of 2017, which experienced a 2% decline in median pay. The study includes 853 U.S. companies, 98 Canadian companies and 54 European companies of similar size. In 2018, the median compensation of CEOs in U.S. mid-sized companies was approximately $5.3 million, while that of Canada and Europe were $3.2 million and $4.5 million, respectively. Likely due to variation in the global corporate governance landscape, European CEO pay trends were more volatile across the years involved in the study, and experienced a net decrease of 22% in median pay from 2014 to 2018 from $5.5 million in 2014 to $4.5 million in 2018.

 

 

Examining European data at the country level, the highest median CEO compensation for Europeans in 2018 was found at companies based in the Netherlands at $8.8 million, followed closely by Ireland at $7.8 million and the U.K. at $6.3 million. Canadian compensation levels were more stagnant, staying at around $3 million across the years studied.

Looking at median total compensation by pay component allows us to explore more in-depth specifics of compensation by region. From the findings, the median value of the cash component was $1.9 million and the median equity component was $2.8 million. The overall compensation trends of U.S. CEOs match the compensation trends that were observed in the annual Equilar CEO Pay Trends report, in which CEO compensation for Equilar 500 CEOs was reported to be gradually increasing, and about 48.5% in the form of stock. Similarly, European and Canadian CEOs of mid-sized companies received a median cash component of $1.8 million and $1.5 million, respectively. However, equity components were significantly less than the median U.S. figure, at $2.2 million and $1.4 million, respectively.

 

 

The overall trend for mid-sized U.S. companies over the past five years shows a gradual increase in median total compensation, while trends in Canadian companies remained fairly constant and Europe was more volatile. The median equity component value of a CEO’s compensation in U.S. mid-sized companies was nearly $3 million, suggesting that CEO pay packages heavily favor equity-based compensation for U.S. executives. CEOs from Canada and the European region saw median values of both cash and equity components less than their counterparts in the United States. Despite the rules and regulations differing across borders, it appears CEO compensation trends are consistent regardless of country. Only time will tell if those similarities will continue, or if their paths will separate.

________________________________________________

*Andrew Ludwig is a Senior Research Analyst at Equilar Inc. This post is based on his Equilar memorandum. Related research from the Program on Corporate Governance includes The Growth of Executive Pay by Lucian Bebchuk and Yaniv Grinstein and Paying for Long-Term Performance by Lucian Bebchuk and Jesse Fried (discussed on the Forum here).

Une revue de l’activisme actionnarial


Excellente revue de l’activisme actionnarial en 2018 par Jim Rossman, directeur de Shareholder Advisory de la firme Lazard. L’article a été publié sur le forum de la Harvard Law School aujourd’hui.

Vous trouverez ci-dessous les faits marquants de l’année. Je vous encourage à prendre connaissance des nombreuses illustrations infographiques dans la version complète.

Bonne lecture !

2018 Review of Shareholder Activism

 

 Résultats de recherche d'images pour « Shareholder Activism »

1. A New High-Water Mark for Global Activist Activity

  1. A record 226 companies were targeted in 2018, as compared to 188 companies in 2017
  2. $65.0bn of capital deployed in 2018, up from $62.4bn in 2017
  3. In spite of significant market volatility, Q4 2018 was the most active Q4 on record both by campaign volume and capital deployed
  4. Against the backdrop of a robust M&A market, 33% of 2018 activist campaigns were M&A related

2. Broadening Use of Activism as a Tactic

  1. A record 131 investors engaged in activism in 2018, reflecting the continued expansion of activism as a tactic
  2. 40 “first timers” launched activist campaigns in 2018, as compared to 23 “first timers” in 2017
  3. Nine of the top 10 activists (by current activist positions [1]) invested more than $1bn in 2018 (60 new campaigns in aggregate)
  4. Elliott continued to be the most prolific activist, with 22 new campaigns launched in 2018

3. Activism Is Reshaping Boardrooms

  1. 161 Board seats won in 2018, [2] up 56% from 2017 and 11% higher than the previous record of 145 seats in 2016
  2. Starboard led the way in 2018, winning 29 seats exclusively through negotiated settlements
  3. Activists continue to name accomplished candidates, with 27% of activist appointees having public company CEO/CFO experience
  4. However, only 18% of activist appointees in 2018 were female, as compared to 40% of new S&P 500 directors in 2018 [3]

4. Activism Has Global Reach

  1. Activist campaigns in Europe and APAC accounted for 23% and 12% of companies targeted, respectively
  2. 58 European campaigns and 30 APAC campaigns in 2018 were each record highs
  3. National champions, iconic family owned companies and regulated industries featured prominently among targeted companies

5. Traditional Active Managers Are the “New Vocalists”

  1. Traditional active managers are increasingly comfortable sharing their views on major activist campaigns in private interactions with
    management and more public forums
  2. Traditional managers like T. Rowe Price, Janus Henderson and GBL publicly voiced their opinions on major activist campaigns

6. Shareholder Dynamics Are Attracting Scrutiny

  1. BlackRock’s Larry Fink set the tone for the year, calling on companies to identify and follow through on their social purpose
  2. Stakeholder duties, employee Board representation and capital allocation / share buybacks became political issues
  3. Voting power of index funds remains a highly debated topic, and regulators have begun to explore the influence of proxy advisory firms and the proxy voting process itself

The complete publication, including Appendix, is available here.

Tendances globales en gouvernance et « Trends » régionaux


À l’occasion de la nouvelle année 2019, je partage avec vous une étude de la firme Russell Reynolds Associates sur les tendances en gouvernance selon différentes régions du monde.

L’article a été publié sur le site de Harvard Law School Forum par Jack « Rusty » O’Kelley, III, Anthony Goodman et Melissa Martin.

Ce qu’il y a de particulier dans cette publication ,c’est que l’on identifie cinq (5) grandes tendances globales et que l’on tente de prédire les Trends dans plusieurs régions du monde telles que :

(1) Les États-Unis et le Canada

(2) L’Union européenne

(3) La Grande-Bretagne

(4) Le Brésil

(5) l’Inde

(6) Le Japon

Les grandes tendances observées sont :

(1) la qualité et la composition du CA

(2) le degré d’attention apportée à la surveillance de la culture organisationnelle

(3) les activités des investisseurs qui limitent la primauté des actionnaires en mettant l’accent sur le long terme

(4) la responsabilité sociale des entreprises qui constitue toujours une variable critique et

(5) les investisseurs activistes qui continuent d’exercer une pression sur les CA.

Je vous recommande la lecture intégrale de cette publication pour vous former une opinion réaliste de l’évolution des saines pratiques de gouvernance. Les États-Unis et le Canada semblent mener la marche, mais les autres régions du globe ont également des préoccupations qui rejoignent les tendances globales.

C’est une lecture très instructive pour toute personne intéressée par la gouvernance des sociétés.

Bonne lecture et Bonne Année 2019 !

 

2019 Global & Regional Trends in Corporate Governance

 

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « Russell Reynolds Associates governance »

 

Institutional investors (both active managers and index fund giants) spent the last few years raising their expectations of public company boards—a trend we expect to see continue in 2019. The demand for board quality, effectiveness, and accountability to shareholders will continue to accelerate across all global markets. Toward the end of each year, Russell Reynolds Associates interviews a global mix of institutional and activist investors, pension fund managers, proxy advisors, and other corporate governance professionals regarding the trends and challenges that public company boards may face in the coming year. This year we interviewed over 40 experts to develop our insights and identify trends.

Overview of Global Trends

 

In 2019, we expect to see the emergence or continued development of the following key global governance trends:

 

1. Board quality and composition are at the heart of corporate governance.

Since investors cannot see behind the boardroom veil, they have little choice but to rely on various governance criteria as a stand-in for board quality: whether the board is truly independent, whether its composition is deliberate and under regular review, and whether board competencies align with and support the company’s forward-looking strategy. Directors face increased scrutiny around how equipped the board is with industry knowledge, capital allocation skills, and transformation experience. Institutional investors are pushing to further encourage robust, independent, and regular board evaluation processes that may result in board evolution. Boards will need to be vigilant as they consider individual tenure, director overboarding, and gender imbalance—all of which may provoke votes against the nominating committee or its chair. Gender diversity continues to be an area of focus across many countries and investors. Companies can expect increased pressure to disclose their prioritization of board competencies, board succession plans, and how they are building a diverse pipeline of director candidates. Norges Bank Investment Management, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, has set a new standard for at least two independent directors with relevant industry experience on each of their 9,000 investee boards.

2. Deeper focus on oversight of corporate culture.

Human capital and intangible assets, including organizational culture and reputation, are important aspects of enterprise value, as they directly impact the ability to attract and retain top talent. Culture risk exists when there is misalignment between the values a company seeks to embody and the behaviors it demonstrates. Investors are keen to learn how boards are engaging with management on this issue and how they go about understanding corporate culture. A few compensation committees are including culture and broader human capital issues as part of their remit.

3. Investors placing limits on shareholder primacy and emphasizing long-termism.

The role of corporations in many countries is evolving to include meeting the needs of a broader set of stakeholders. Global investors are increasingly discussing social value; long-termism; and environment, social, and governance (ESG) changes that are shifting corporations from a pure shareholder primacy model. While BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s 2018 letter to investee companies on the importance of social purpose and a strategy for achieving long-term growth generated discussion in the US, much of the rest of the world viewed this as further confirmation of the focus on broader stakeholder, as well as shareholder, concerns. Institutional investors are more actively focusing on long-termism and partnering with groups to increase the emphasis on long-term, sustainable results.

4. ESG continues to be a critical issue globally and is at the forefront of governance concerns in some countries.

Asset managers and asset owners are integrating ESG into investment decisions, some under the framework of sustainability or integrated reporting. The priority for investors will be linking sustainability to long-term value creation and balancing ESG risks with opportunities. ESG oversight, improved disclosure, relative company performance against peers, and understanding how these issues are built into corporate strategy will become key focus areas. Climate change and sustainability are critical issues to many investors and are at the forefront of governance in many countries. Some investors regard technology disruption and cybersecurity as ESG issues, while others continue to categorize them as a major business risk. Either way, investors want to understand how boards are providing adequate oversight of technology disruption and cyber risk.

5. Activist investors continue to impact boards.

Activist investors are using various strategies to achieve their objectives. The question for boards is no longer if, but when and why an activist gets involved. The characterization of activists as hostile antagonists is waning, as some activists are becoming more constructive with management. Institutional investors are increasingly open to activists’ perspectives and are deploying activist tactics to bring about desired change. Activists continue to pay close attention to individual director performance and oversight failures. We are seeing even more boards becoming “their own activist” or commissioning independent assessments to preemptively identify vulnerabilities. Firms such as Russell Reynolds are conducting more director-vulnerability analysis, looking at the strengths and weaknesses of board composition and proactively identifying where activists may attack director composition. In the following sections, we explore these trends and how they will impact the United States and Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, and Japan.

 

The United States and Canada

Investor stewardship.

Eighty-eight percent of the S&P 500 companies have either Vanguard, BlackRock, or State Street as the largest shareholder, and together these investors collectively own 18.7 percent of all the shares in the S&P 500. Because the index funds’ creators are obligated to hold shares for as long as a company is included in a relevant index (e.g., Dow Jones, S&P 500, Russell 3000), the institutional investors view themselves as permanent capital. These investors view governance not as a compliance exercise, but as a key component of value creation and risk mitigation. Passive investors are engaging even more frequently with companies to ensure that their board and management are taking the necessary actions and asking the right questions. Investors want to understand the long-term value creation story and see disclosure showing the right balance between the long term and short term. They take this very seriously and continue to invest in stewardship and governance oversight. Several of the largest institutional investors want greater focus on long-term, sustainable results and are partnering with organizations to drive the dialogue toward the long term.

Board quality.

Investors are pushing for improved board quality and view board composition, diversity, and the refreshment process as key elements. There is similarly a push for richer insight into director skill relevancy. The Boardroom Accountability Project 2.0 has encouraged more companies to disclose a “board matrix,” setting out the skills, experiences, and demographic profile of directors. That practice is fast becoming the norm for proxy disclosure. Many more institutional investors want richer disclosure around director competencies and a clearer, more direct link between each director’s skills and the company’s strategy. As one investor noted, “We want to know why this collection of directors was selected to lead the company and whether they are prepared for change and disruption.” Some of the largest US institutional investors are pushing for better board succession and board evaluation processes and the use of external firms to assess board quality, composition, and effectiveness. Institutional investors are even more concerned about board succession processes and the continued use of automatic refreshment mechanisms (retirement ages and tenure limits) rather than a “foundational assessment process over time with a mix of internal and external reviewers.”

Board diversity.

In 2019, directors should expect more investors to vote against the nominating committee or its chair if there are no women on the board (or fewer than two women in some cases). Investors want to see an increased diversity of thought and experiences to better enable the board to identify risks and improve company performance. In the US, gender diversity has become a proxy for cognitive diversity. Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has updated its policies on gender diversity for Russell 3000 and S&P 1500 companies and may recommend votes against nominating committee chairs or members beginning in 2020. This follows recent California legislation requiring gender diversity for California-headquartered companies. Some very large investors are starting to take a broader approach to diversity, particularly as it relates to ethnicity and race. In Canada, nearly 40 percent of TSX-listed companies have no women on their boards. Proxy advisors have recently established voting guidelines related to the disclosure of formal gender diversity policies and gender diversity by TSX-listed companies.

ESG.

Investors are pushing companies to consider their broader societal impact—both what they do and how they disclose it. ESG has moved from being a discrete topic to a fundamental part of how investors evaluate companies. They will increasingly focus on how companies explain their approach to value creation, the impact of the company on society, and how companies weigh various stakeholder interests. Other investors will continue to look at ESG primarily through a financial lens, screening for risk identification and measurement, incorporation of ESG into strategy and long-term value creation, and executive compensation. There is continued and growing focus in the US on sustainability and climate change across a range of sectors. In Canada, proactive companies will consider developing and disclosing their own ESG policies and upgrading boards—through both changes in director education and, on occasion, board composition—to ensure that directors are equipped to understand ESG risk.

Oversight of corporate culture.

Given many high-profile failures in corporate culture and leadership over the last few years, investors and regulators will expect more disclosure and will ask more questions regarding how a board understands the company’s culture. When engaging with institutional investors, boards should expect questions regarding how they are understanding and assessing the health of a corporation’s culture. Boards need to reflect on whether they really understand the company culture and how they plan to assess hot spots and potential issues.

Activist investing.

Shareholder activism remains part of the US corporate governance landscape and is continuing to grow in Canada. In Canada, the industries with the highest levels of activism include basic materials, energy, banking, and financial institutions, and emerging sectors with high growth potential (e.g., blockchain, cannabis) could be next. Proxy battles are showing no signs of slowing down, but activists are using other methods to promote change, such as constructive engagement. Canadian companies are also seeing an increase in proxy contests launched by former insiders or company founders. Experts in Canada anticipate this trend will continue and, as a result, increased shareholder engagement will be critical.

Executive compensation.

Investors are looking for better-quality disclosure around pay-for-performance metrics, particularly sustainability metrics linked to risk management and strategy. In the US, institutional investors may vote against pay plans where there is misalignment and against compensation committees where there is “excessive” executive pay for two or more consecutive years. Some investors are uncomfortable with stock performance being a primary driver of CEO compensation since it may not reflect real leadership impact. In Canada, investors are urging companies to adopt say-on-pay policies in the absence of a mandatory vote, even though such adoption rates have been sluggish to date. Investors will likely continue to push for this reform.

Governance codes.

Earlier this year, the Corporate Governance Principles of the Investor Stewardship Group (ISG) went into effect with the purpose of setting consistent governance standards for the US market. Version 2.0 of the Commonsense Principles of Corporate Governance was also published. US companies will want to consider proactive disclosure of how they comply with these sets of principles.

European Union

Investors more active.

Institutional investors are expanding resources for their engagement and stewardship teams in Europe. In 2019, investors will focus on connecting governance to long-term value creation through board oversight of talent management, ESG, and corporate culture. Additionally, some US activists are setting their sights on Europe and raising funds focused on European companies. Institutional investors are more willing to support activist investors if inadequate oversight by the board has led to poor share price and total shareholder return (TSR) performance.

Company and board diversity.

Though EU boards tend to have more women directors due to legislation and regulation, progress on gender diversity has not carried over into the C-suite. Boards can expect to engage with investors on this topic and will need to explain the root causes and plans to address it through talent management processes and diversity and inclusion initiatives. With gender diversity regulations already widely adopted across Europe, Austria has now also stipulated that public company boards have at least 30 percent women directors. However, since board terms are usually for five years, the full impact likely will not be visible until future election cycles.

ESG.

Many investors are encouraging use of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework for consistent measurement, assessment, and disclosure of ESG risks. Investors are likely to integrate climate-change competency and risk oversight into their voting guidelines in some form, and boards will need to demonstrate that they are thinking strategically about the opportunities, risks, and impact of climate change. A new legislative proposal in France could mandate that companies consider various stakeholders, the social environment, and the nonfinancial outcome of their actions.

Revised governance codes.

A recent study found strong compliance rates for the German Corporate Governance Code, except for the areas of executive remuneration and board composition recommendations. German boards should expect more investor engagement and pressure on these matters, including enhanced disclosure. Next year, the German code may include amendments impacting director independence and executive compensation. The revised governance code in the Netherlands focuses more closely on how long-term value creation and culture are vital elements within the governance framework. Denmark’s code now recommends that remuneration policies be approved at least every four years and bars retiring CEOs from stepping into the chairman or vice chairman role.

Board leadership.

Norges Bank Investment Management (commonly referred to as The Government Pension Fund Global) is pushing globally for the separation of CEO and chairman roles and independent chair appointments. In France, investors are focused on board composition and quality. Boards should expect to see continued pressure on separating the CEO and chairman roles as well as strengthening the role and prevalence of the lead director. Companies without a lead director could see negative votes against the reelection of the CEO/chair.

United Kingdom

Revised code.

Recent legislation and market activity have set the stage for the United Kingdom to implement governance reforms that will continue to influence global markets. The new UK Corporate Governance code will apply to reporting periods starting from January 1, 2019, although many companies have begun to apply it more quickly. The new code was complemented by updated and enhanced Guidance on Board Effectiveness to reemphasize that boards need to focus on improving their effectiveness—not just their compliance. Meanwhile the voluntary principle of “comply or explain” is itself being tested as the Kingman Review reconsiders the Financial Reporting Council’s powers and its twin role as both the government-designated regulator and the custodian of a voluntary code. Proxy advisors, who are growing more powerful, are also frequently voting against firms choosing to “explain” rather than comply. 2019 code changes include guidance around the board’s duty to consider the perspective of key stakeholders and to incorporate their interests into discussion and decisionmaking. Employees can be engaged via designating an existing non-executive director (already on the board), a workforce advisory committee, or a workforce representative on the board.

Board leadership and composition.

Other changes in the code include prioritizing non-executive chair succession planning and capping non-executive chair total tenure at nine years (including any time spent previously as a non-executive director)—a recommendation which could impact over 10 percent of the FTSE 350. Several investors noted that they understand the new tenure rule may cause unintended consequences around board chair succession planning. Investors are likely to focus on skills mix, diversity, and functional and industry experience. While directors can expect negative votes against their reelection if they are currently on more than four boards, better disclosure of director capacity and commitment may help sway investors.

Culture oversight.

The board’s evolving role in overseeing corporate culture—now explicit in the revised code—will be a primary focus for investors in 2019. The Financial Reporting Council has suggested that culture can be measured using several factors, such as turnover and absenteeism rates, reward and promotion decisions, health and safety data, and exit interviews. The code emphasizes that the board is responsible for a healthy culture that should promote delivering long-term sustainable performance. Auditor reform. Given public concern about recent corporate collapses, the role of external auditor and the structure of the audit firm market are under scrutiny. The government is under pressure to improve auditing and increase competition. Audit independence, rigor, and quality are likely to be examined, and boards may face greater pressure to change auditors more regularly. ISS is changing its policies for its UK/Ireland (and Continental European) policies beginning in 2019. ISS will begin tracking significant audit quality issues at the lead engagement partner level and will identify (when possible) any lead audit partners who have been linked to significant audit controversies.

Activist investors.

While institutional investors’ concerns center around the impact of disruption and how companies are responding with an eye toward long-termism and sustainability, activist campaigns continue to act as a potential counterweight. UK companies account for about 55 percent of activist campaigns in Europe, and UK companies will likely continue to be targeted next year.

Company diversity.

Diversity will continue to be a priority for board attention, including gender and ethnic diversity. The revised code broadened the role of the nominating committee to oversee the development of diversity in senior management ranks and to review diversity and inclusion initiatives and outcomes throughout the business.

Brazil

Outlook.

Following the highly polarized presidential election, Brazil is still facing some political uncertainty around the potential business and political agenda the new government will pursue. Despite recent ministry appointments being generally well received, global investors will likely still be cautious about investing in the country given the government’s deep history of entanglement with corporate affairs.

Governance reforms and stewardship.

Governance regulation is still in its early stages in Brazil and continues to be focused on overhauling compliance practices and implementing governance reforms. Securities regulator CVM recently issued guidelines regarding indemnity agreements between companies and board members (and other company stakeholders), which could lead to possible disclosure implications. The guidance serves to warn companies about potential conflicts of interest, and directors are cautioned to pay close attention to these new policies. Brazilian public companies are now required to file a comply-or-explain governance report as part of the original mandate stemming from the 2016 Corporate Governance Code, with an emphasis on the quality of such disclosures. Stewardship continues to be of growing importance, and boards are at the center of that discussion. The Association of Capital Market Investors is focusing on ensuring that the CVM and other market participants are holding companies to the highest governance standards not issuing waivers or failing to hold companies accountable for their actions.

Improved independence.

There is an ongoing push for more independence within the governance framework. More independent directors are being appointed to boards due to wider capital distribution. Brazil is working toward implementing reforms targeting political appointments within state-owned enterprises (SOE), but progress could slow depending upon the new government’s priorities. Recently, the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies approved legislation that would allow politicians to once again be nominated to SOE boards. The Federal Senate will soon decide on the proposal, but its approval could trigger a backlash. Organizations like the Brazilian Institute of Corporate Governance are firmly positioning themselves against the law change, viewing it as a step back from recent governance progress. However, the Novo Mercado rules and Corporate Governance Code are strengthening the definition of independence and using shareholder meetings to confirm the independence of those directors.

Remote voting.

The recent introduction of the remote voting card for shareholders could have a major impact on boards. Public companies required to implement the new system should expect to see more flexibility and inclusion of minority shareholder-backed nominees on the ballot. While Brazil is making year-over-year progress toward minority shareholder protections, they continue to be a challenge.

Board effectiveness.

Experts anticipate increased pressure to upgrade board mechanics and processes, including establishing a nominations policy regarding board director and committee appointments, routine board evaluation processes, succession planning, and onboarding/training programs. CVM, along with B3 (the Brazilian stock exchange), continues to push for higher governance standards and processes. There is an increased focus on board and director assessment (whether internally or externally led) to ensure board effectiveness and the right board composition. Under the Corporate Governance Code, companies will have to comply or explain why they do not have a board assessment process.

Compensation disclosure.

For almost a decade, Brazilian companies used a court injunction (known as the “IBEF Injunction”) to avoid having to disclose the remuneration of their highest-paid executives. Now that this has been overturned, public companies will be expected to start disclosing compensation information for their highest-paid executives and board members. Companies are concerned that the disclosure may trigger a backlash among minority shareholders and negative votes against remuneration.

India

Regulatory reform.

Motivated by a desire to attract global investments, curb corruption, and strengthen corporate governance, India is continuing to push for regulatory reform. In the spring of 2018, much to the surprise of many, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) adopted many of the 81 provisions put forward by the Kotak Committee. The adoption of the recommendations has caused many companies to consider and aspire to meet this new standard. Kotak implementation has triggered a significant wave of governance implications centered around improving transparency and financial reporting. The adoption of these governance reforms is staggered, with most companies striving to reach compliance between April 2019 and April 2020.

Board composition, leadership, and independence.

Boards will face enhanced disclosure rules regarding the skills and experience of directors, which has triggered many companies to engage in board composition assessments. Directors will also be limited in the number of boards they can serve on simultaneously: eight in 2019; seven in 2020. The top 1,000 listed companies in India will need to ensure they have a minimum of six directors on their boards by April 2019, with the next 1,000 having an additional year to comply. Among other changes are new criteria for independence determinations and changes to director compensation. Additionally, the CEO or managing director role and the chair role must be separated and cannot be held by the same person for the top 500 listed companies by market capitalization. This will significantly change board leadership and control in many companies where the role was held by the same person, and it will boost overall independence. To further drive board and director independence, the definition of independence was strengthened, and board interlocks will receive greater scrutiny.

Board diversity.

India continues to make improvements toward gender diversity five years after the Companies Act of 2013 and ongoing pressure from investors and policymakers. Nevertheless, institutional investors and proxy advisors are calling for more progress, as a quarter of women appointments are held by family members of the business owners (and are thus not independent). Starting in 2019, boards of the top 500 listed companies will need to ensure they have at least one independent woman director; by 2020, the top 1,000 listed companies will need to comply.

Board effectiveness.

The reforms also include a requirement for the implementation of an oversight process for succession planning and updating the board evaluation and director review process.

Investor expectations.

Governance stakeholders are eager to see how much progress Indian companies will make during the next 18 months, but many are not overly optimistic given the magnitude of change required in such a short period of time. Investors are setting their expectations accordingly and understand that regional governance norms will not transform overnight. While it is unclear exactly how the government and regulators will respond to noncompliance, companies and their boards are feeling anxious about the potential repercussions and penalties.

Japan

Continued focus on governance.

The Japanese government continues to be a driving force for corporate governance improvements. To make Japan more attractive to global investors, policymakers are increasingly focused on improving board accountability. Despite a trend toward more proactive investor stewardship, regulatory bodies including the Financial Services Agency continue to lead reforms, with several new comply-or-explain guidelines added to the Amended Corporate Governance Code that came into effect in 2018. These guidelines, such as minimum independence requirements, establishing an objective CEO succession and dismissal process, and the unloading of cross-shareholdings, are aimed at enhancing transparency.

Director independence.

Director independence has been a concern for investors, with outside directors taking only about 31 percent of board seats. Though some observers perceive a weakening of language in the code regarding independence, investors are unlikely to lower their expectations and standards. The amended code now calls for at least one-third of the board to be composed of outside directors (up from the quota requirement of two directors that existed previously). The change is intended to encourage transparency and accountability around the board’s decision-making process. Starting next year, ISS will adopt a similar approach to its Japanese governance policies, employing a one-third independence threshold as well.

Executive compensation.

Given recent scandals, institutional investors and regulators will continue to pay close attention to the structure of executive compensation. Performance-based compensation plans will be a major area of focus in 2019. More companies are introducing new types of equity-based compensation schemes, such as restricted stock, and are expected to follow the trend into next year. Board diversity. Over 50 percent of listed companies still have no women on their boards. To upgrade board quality and performance, investors will likely engage more forcefully on gender diversity, board composition and processes, board oversight duties and roles, and the board director evaluation process.

ESG.

In 2019, boards can expect more shareholder interest in sustainability metrics and strategy. Investors are keen to see enhanced disclosure that aids their understanding of value creation and the link to performance targets, as well as explanations concerning board monitoring.

Activist investing.

Activism continues to rise in Japan, and we expect that trend to continue. Activists are showing a willingness to demand a board seat and engage in proxy battles, and institutional investors are increasingly willing to support the activist recommendations.

Governance practices.

Investors also will be paying close attention to several other governance practices, such as the earlier disclosure of proxy materials and delivery in digital format, and protecting the interest of minority shareholders. The code further emphasizes succession planning by requiring companies to implement a fair and transparent process for the CEO’s removal and succession. As a result, more companies are introducing nominating committees and discussing

CEO succession.

Companies are also being urged to unload their cross-shareholdings (when a listed company owns stock of another company in the same listing) and adopt controls that will determine whether the ownership of such equity is appropriate. Such holdings are likely to be policed more by regulators due to the tendency of such holdings to insulate boards from external pressure, including takeover bids.

___________________________________________________________

*Jack “Rusty” O’Kelley, III is Global Leader of the Board Advisory & Effectiveness Practice, Anthony Goodman is a member of the Board Consulting and Effectiveness Practice, and Melissa Martin is a Board and CEO Advisory Group Specialist at Russell Reynolds Associates.at Russell Reynolds Associates. This post is based on a Russell Reynolds memorandum by Mr. O’Kelley, Mr. Goodman, and Ms. Martin.

 

Guide pratique à la détermination de la rémunération des administrateurs de sociétés | En rappel


Aujourd’hui, je vous suggère la lecture d’un excellent guide publié par International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN). Ce document présente succinctement les grands principes qui devraient gouverner l’établissement de la rémunération des administrateurs indépendants (« non-executive »).

Il va de soi que la rémunération des administrateurs ne représente qu’une part infime du budget d’une entreprise, et celle-ci est relativement très inférieure aux rémunérations consenties aux dirigeants ! Cependant, il est vital d’apporter une attention particulière à la rémunération des administrateurs, car ceux-ci sont les fiduciaires des actionnaires, ceux qui doivent les représenter, en veillant à la saine gestion de la société.

Il est important que le comité de gouvernance se penche annuellement sur la question de la rémunération des administrateurs indépendants, et que ce comité propose une politique de rémunération qui tient compte du rôle déterminant de ces derniers. Plusieurs variables doivent être prises en ligne de compte notamment, la comparaison avec d’autres entreprises similaires, les responsabilités des administrateurs dans les différents rôles qui leur sont attribués au sein du conseil, la nature de l’entreprise (taille, cycle de développement, type de mission, circonstances particulières, etc.).

Personnellement, je suis d’avis que tous les administrateurs de sociétés obtiennent une compensation pour leurs efforts, même si, dans certains cas, les sommes affectées s’avèrent peu élevées. Les organisations ont avantage à offrir de justes rémunérations à leurs administrateurs afin (1) d’attirer de nouvelles recrues hautement qualifiées (2) de s’assurer que les intérêts des administrateurs sont en adéquation avec les intérêts des parties prenantes, et (3) d’être en mesure de s’attendre à une solide performance de leur part et de divulguer les rémunérations globales.

Le document du ICNG propose une réflexion dans trois domaines : (1) la structure de rémunération (2) la reddition de comptes, et (3) les principes de transparence.

On me demande souvent qui doit statuer sur la politique de rémunération des administrateurs, puisqu’il semble que ceux-ci déterminent leurs propres compensations !

Ultimement, ce sont les actionnaires qui doivent approuver les rémunérations des administrateurs telles que présentées dans la circulaire de procuration. Cependant, le travail en aval se fait, annuellement, par le comité de gouvernance lequel recommande au conseil une structure de rémunération des administrateurs non exécutifs. Notons que les comités de gouvernance ont souvent recours à des firmes spécialisées en rémunération pour les aider dans leurs décisions.

C’est cette recommandation qui devrait être amenée à l’assemblée générale annuelle pour approbation, même si dans plusieurs pays, la juridiction ne le requiert pas.

En tant qu’administrateur, si vous souhaitez connaître le point de vue du plus grand réseau de gouvernance à l’échelle internationale, je vous invite à lire ce document synthétique.

Bonne lecture. Vos commentaires sur le sujet sont sollicités.

 

ICGN Guidance on Non-executive Director Remuneration – 2016

 

 

 

Cadre de référence pour évaluer la gouvernance des sociétés – un questionnaire de 100 items | En rappel


Le Bureau de la vérification interne (BVI) de l’Université de Montréal (UdeM) a récemment développé un cadre de référence novateur pour l’évaluation de la gouvernance. La méthodologie, ainsi que le questionnaire qui en résulte, contribue, à mon avis, à l’avancement des connaissances dans le domaine de l’évaluation des caractéristiques et des pratiques de la gouvernance par les auditeurs internes.

Ayant eu l’occasion de collaborer à la conception de cet instrument de mesure de la gouvernance des sociétés, j’ai obtenu du BVI la permission de publier le résultat de cet exercice.

Cette version du cadre se veut « générique » et peut être utilisée pour l’évaluation de la gouvernance d’un projet, d’une activité, d’une unité ou d’une entité.

De ce fait, les termes, les intervenants ainsi que les structures attendues doivent être adaptés au contexte de l’évaluation. Il est à noter que ce cadre de référence correspond à une application optimale recherchée en matière de gouvernance. Certaines pratiques pourraient ne pas s’appliquer ou ne pas être retenues de façon consciente et transparente par l’organisation.

Le questionnaire se décline en dix thèmes, chacun comportant dix items :

 

 

Thème 1 — Structure et fonctionnement du Conseil

Thème 2 — Travail du président du Conseil

Thème 3 — Relation entre le Conseil et le directeur général (direction)

Thème 4 — Structure et travail des comités du Conseil

Thème 5 — Performance du Conseil et de ses comités

Thème 6 — Recrutement, rémunération et évaluation du rendement du directeur général

Thème 7 — Planification stratégique

Thème 8 — Performance et reddition de comptes

Thème 9 — Gestion des risques

Thème 10 — Éthique et culture organisationnelle

 


 

On retrouvera en Annexe une représentation graphique du cadre conceptuel qui permet d’illustrer les liens entre les thèmes à évaluer dans le présent référentiel.

L’évaluation s’effectue à l’aide d’un questionnaire de type Likert (document distinct du cadre de référence). L’échelle de Likert est une échelle de jugement par laquelle la personne interrogée exprime son degré d’accord ou de désaccord eu égard à une affirmation ou une question.

 

  1. Tout à fait d’accord
  2. D’accord
  3. Ni en désaccord ni d’accord
  4. Pas d’accord
  5. Pas du tout d’accord
  6. Ne s’applique pas (S.O.)

 

Une section commentaire est également incluse dans le questionnaire afin que les participants puissent exprimer des informations spécifiques à la question. L’audit interne doit réaliser son évaluation à l’aide de questionnaires ainsi que sur la base de la documentation qui lui sera fournie.

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « gouvernance d'entreprise »

 

Thème 1 — Structure et fonctionnement du Conseil

(Questions destinées au président du comité de gouvernance [PCG] et/ou au président du Conseil [PC])

 

1.       Le Conseil compte-t-il une proportion suffisante de membres indépendants pour lui permettre d’interagir de manière constructive avec la direction ?
2.       La taille du Conseil vous semble-t-elle raisonnable compte tenu des objectifs et de la charge de travail actuel ? (dans une fourchette idéale de 9 à 13 membres, avec une moyenne d’environ 10 membres)
3.       La composition du Conseil est-elle guidée par une politique sur la diversité des membres ?
4.       Le Conseil a-t-il conçu un processus rigoureux de recrutement de ses membres, basé sur une matrice des compétences complémentaires ?
5.       Le président et les membres du comité responsable du recrutement (comité de gouvernance) ont-ils clairement exprimé aux candidats potentiels les attentes de l’organisation en matière de temps, d’engagement et de contributions reliés avec leurs compétences ?
6.       Les réunions sont-elles bien organisées et structurées ? (durée, PV, taux de présence, documentation pertinente et à temps, etc.)
7.       Les échanges portent-ils sur surtout sur des questions stratégiques, sans porter sur les activités courantes (qui sont davantage du ressort de l’équipe de direction) ?
8.       Les membres sont-ils à l’aise d’émettre des propos qui vont à contre-courant des idées dominantes ?
9.       Une séance à huis clos est-elle systématiquement prévue à la fin de chacune des réunions afin de permettre aux membres indépendants de discuter des sujets sensibles ?
10.    Les membres ont-ils accès à la planification des rencontres sur une période idéale de 18 mois en y incluant certains items ou sujets récurrents qui seront abordés lors des réunions du Conseil (plan de travail) ?

 

 

Thème 2 — Travail du président du Conseil 

(Questions destinées à un administrateur indépendant, au PC [auto-évaluation] et au président du comité de gouvernance [PCG])

 

1.       Le président s’assure-t-il de former un solide tandem avec le directeur général et de partager avec lui une vision commune de l’organisation ?
2.       Le président promeut-il de hauts standards d’efficacité et d’intégrité afin de donner le ton à l’ensemble de l’organisation ?
3.       Le président, de concert avec le directeur général, prépare-t-il adéquatement les réunions du Conseil ?
4.       Le président préside-t-il avec compétence et doigté les réunions du Conseil ?
5.       Le président s’assure-t-il que les échanges portent surtout sur des questions stratégiques et que les réunions du Conseil ne versent pas dans la micro gestion ?
6.       Le président s’investit-il pleinement dans la sélection des présidents et des membres des comités du Conseil ?
7.       Le président s’assure-t-il de l’existence d’une formation et d’une trousse d’accueil destinées aux nouveaux membres afin qu’ils soient opérationnels dans les plus brefs délais ?
8.       Le président s’assure-t-il de l’existence d’un processus d’évaluation du rendement du Conseil et de ses membres ?
9.       Le président prend-il la peine d’aborder les membres non performants pour les aider à trouver des solutions ?
10.    Le président s’assure-t-il que les membres comprennent bien leurs devoirs de fiduciaire, c’est-à-dire qu’ils doivent veiller aux meilleurs intérêts de l’organisation et non aux intérêts de la base dont ils sont issus ?

 

 

Thème 3 — Relation entre le Conseil et le directeur général (direction)

(Questions destinées au PC et au Directeur général [DG])

 

1.       Le président du Conseil et le directeur général ont-ils des rencontres régulières et statutaires pour faire le point entre les réunions du Conseil ?
2.       Le président du Conseil et le directeur général maintiennent-ils une communication franche et ouverte ? (équilibre entre une saine tension et des relations harmonieuses et efficaces)
3.       Le Conseil résiste-t-il à la tentation de faire de la micro gestion lors de ses réunions et s’en tient-il à assumer les responsabilités qui lui incombent ?
4.       Le Conseil agit-il de façon respectueuse à l’endroit du directeur général lors des réunions du Conseil et cherche-t-il à l’aider à réussir ?
5.       Le Conseil procède-t-il à une évaluation annuelle du rendement du directeur général (par le comité de GRH) basée sur des critères objectifs et mutuellement acceptés ?
6.       Les membres du Conseil s’abstiennent-ils de donner des ordres ou des directives aux employés qui relèvent de l’autorité du directeur général ?
7.       Le président comprend-il que le directeur général ne relève pas de lui, mais plutôt du Conseil, et agit-il en conséquence ?
8.       Le directeur général aide-t-il adéquatement le président dans la préparation des réunions du Conseil, fournit-il aux membres l’information dont ils ont besoin et répond-il à leurs questions de manière satisfaisante ?
9.       Le directeur général s’assure-t-il de ne pas embourber les réunions du Conseil de sujets qui relèvent de sa propre compétence ?
10.    Le directeur général accepte-t-il de se rallier aux décisions prises par le Conseil, même dans les cas où il a exprimé des réserves ?

 

 

Thème 4 — Structure et travail des comités du Conseil

 (Questions destinées au PC et au président d’un des comités)

 

1.       Existe-t-il, au sein de votre organisation, les comités du Conseil suivants :

·         Audit ?

·         Gouvernance ?

·         Ressources humaines ?

·         Gestion des risques ?

·         Sinon, a-t-on inclus les responsabilités de ces comités dans le mandat du Conseil ou d’une autre instance indépendante ?

·         Autres comités reliés à la recherche (ex. éthique, scientifique) ?

 

2.       Les recommandations des comités du Conseil aident-elles le Conseil à bien s’acquitter de son rôle ?
3.       Les comités du Conseil sont-ils actifs et présentent-ils régulièrement des rapports au Conseil ?
4.       Estimez-vous que les comités créent de la valeur pour votre organisation ?
5.       Les comités du Conseil s’abstiennent-ils de s’immiscer dans la sphère de responsabilité du directeur général ?
6.       À l’heure actuelle, la séparation des rôles et responsabilités respectifs du Conseil, des comités et de la direction est-elle officiellement documentée, généralement comprise et mise en pratique ?
7.       Les membres qui siègent à un comité opérationnel comprennent-ils qu’ils travaillent sous l’autorité du directeur général ?
8.       Le directeur général est-il invité à assister aux réunions des comités du Conseil ?
9.       Chacun des comités et des groupes de travail du Conseil dispose-t-il d’un mandat clair et formulé par écrit ?
10.    S’il existe un comité exécutif dans votre organisation, son existence est-elle prévue dans le règlement de régie interne et, si oui, son rôle est-il clairement défini ?

 

 

Thème 5 — Performance du Conseil et de ses comités 

(Questions destinées au PC et au président du comité de gouvernance [PCG])

 

1.       Est-ce que la rémunération des membres du Conseil a été déterminée par le comité de gouvernance ou avec l’aide d’un processus indépendant ? (Jetons de présence ?)
2.       Par quels processus s’assure-t-on que le Conseil consacre suffisamment de temps et d’attention aux tendances émergentes et à la prévision des besoins futurs de la collectivité qu’il sert ?
3.       Est-ce que l’on procède à l’évaluation de la performance du Conseil, des comités et de ses membres au moins annuellement ?
4.       Est-ce que la logique et la démarche d’évaluation ont été expliquées aux membres du Conseil, et ceux-ci ont-ils pu donner leur point de vue avant de procéder à l’évaluation ?
5.       A-t-on convenu préalablement de la façon dont les données seront gérées de manière à fournir une garantie sur la confidentialité de l’information recueillie ?
6.       Est-ce que le président de Conseil croit que le directeur général et la haute direction font une évaluation positive de l’apport des membres du Conseil ?
7.       L’évaluation du Conseil et de ses comités mène-t-elle à un plan d’action réaliste pour prendre les mesures nécessaires selon leur priorité ?
8.       L’évaluation du Conseil permet-elle de relever les lacunes en matière de compétences et d’expérience qui pourraient être comblées par l’ajout de nouveaux membres ?
9.       Est-ce que les membres sont évalués en fonction des compétences et connaissances qu’ils sont censés apporter au Conseil ?
10.    Les membres sont-ils informés par le président du Conseil de leurs résultats d’évaluation dans le but d’aboutir à des mesures de perfectionnement ?

 

 

Thème 6 — Recrutement, rémunération et évaluation du rendement du DG

(Questions destinées au PC, au DG [auto-évaluation] et au président du comité des RH)

 

1.       Existe-t-il une description du poste de directeur général ? Cette description a-t-elle servi au moment de l’embauche du titulaire du poste ?
2.       Un comité du Conseil (comité de GRH) ou un groupe de membres indépendants est-il responsable de l’évaluation du rendement du directeur général (basé sur des critères objectifs) ?
3.       Le président du Conseil s’est-il vu confier un rôle prépondérant au sein du comité responsable de l’évaluation du rendement du directeur général afin qu’il exerce le leadership que l’on attend de lui ?
4.       Le comité responsable de l’évaluation du rendement et le directeur général ont-ils convenu d’objectifs de performance sur lesquels ce dernier sera évalué ?
5.       Le rendement du directeur général est-il évalué au moins une fois l’an en fonction de ces objectifs ?
6.       Les objectifs de rendement du directeur général sont-ils liés au plan stratégique ?
7.       Le comité responsable de l’évaluation du rendement s’est-il entretenu avec le directeur général en cours d’année pour lui donner une rétroaction préliminaire ?
8.       La rémunération du directeur général est-elle équitable par rapport à l’ensemble des employés et a-t-elle fait l’objet d’une analyse comparative avec le marché des organisations afin d’assurer un certain degré de compétitivité ?
9.       Les hausses salariales du directeur général sont-elles uniquement accordées en fonction de l’évaluation de son rendement ?
10.    Est-ce que le Conseil consacre l’attention nécessaire à la succession du directeur général et dispose-t-il d’un processus robuste d’identification d’un nouveau premier dirigeant, tant pour les transitions planifiées que non planifiées ?

 

 

Thème 7 — Planification stratégique 

(Questions destinées au PC et au DG)

 

1.       Votre organisation possède-t-elle un plan stratégique incluant notamment :

·         le contexte dans lequel évoluent la société et les principaux enjeux auxquels elle fait face ?

·         les objectifs et les orientations stratégiques de la société ?

·         les résultats visés au terme de la période couverte par le plan ?

·         les indicateurs de performance utilisés pour mesurer l’atteinte des résultats ?

2.       Le plan stratégique porte-t-il sur une période cohérente avec la mission et l’environnement dans lequel il œuvre ?
3.       La mission, les valeurs et l’énoncé de vision de l’organisation ont-ils été déterminés et réévalués périodiquement ?
4.       Est-ce qu’il y a eu une analyse Forces/faiblesses et opportunités/menaces ?
5.       L’ensemble des parties prenantes de l’organisation a-t-il été consulté notamment au moyen de sondages et d’entrevues, et lors d’un atelier de planification stratégique ?
6.       Les membres ont-ils été engagés dans le processus, notamment par la création d’un comité ad hoc chargé de piloter l’exercice et par des rapports périodiques aux réunions du Conseil ?
7.       Le Conseil évalue-t-il la stratégie proposée, notamment les hypothèses clés, les principaux risques, les ressources nécessaires et les résultats cibles, et s’assure-t-il qu’il traite les questions primordiales telles que l’émergence de la concurrence et l’évolution des préférences des clients ?
8.       Le président du Conseil s’assure-t-il que le plan stratégique soit débattu lors de réunions spéciales et que le Conseil dispose de suffisamment de temps pour être efficace ?
9.       Le Conseil est-il satisfait des plans de la direction pour la mise en œuvre de la stratégie approuvée ?
10.    Le Conseil surveille-t-il la viabilité permanente de la stratégie, et est-elle ajustée, si nécessaire, pour répondre aux évolutions de l’environnement ?

 

 

Thème 8 — Performance et reddition de comptes

 (Questions destinées au Président du comité d’audit ou au PC, au DG et au secrétaire corporatif)

 

1.       S’assure-t-on que les indicateurs de performance utilisés par la direction et présentés au Conseil sont reliés à la stratégie de l’organisation et aux objectifs à atteindre ?
2.       S’assure-t-on que les indicateurs de la performance sont équilibrés entre indicateurs financiers et non financiers, qu’ils comprennent des indicateurs prévisionnels et permettent une comparaison des activités similaires ?
3.       A-t-on une assurance raisonnable de la fiabilité des indicateurs de performance qui sont soumis au Conseil ?
4.       Utilise-t-on des informations de sources externes afin de mieux évaluer la performance de l’organisation ?
5.       Le Conseil et les comités réexaminent-ils régulièrement la pertinence de l’information qu’il reçoit ?
6.       Le Conseil examine-t-il d’un œil critique les informations à fournir aux parties prenantes ?
7.       Le Conseil est-il satisfait du processus de communication de crise de la société et est-il à même de surveiller de près son efficacité si une crise survient ?
8.       Le Conseil est-il satisfait de son implication actuelle dans la communication avec les parties prenantes externes et comprend-il les évolutions susceptibles de l’inciter à modifier son degré de participation ?
9.       Est-ce que la direction transmet suffisamment d’information opérationnelle au Conseil afin que celui-ci puisse bien s’acquitter de ses responsabilités de surveillance ?
10.    Est-ce que le Conseil s’assure que les informations sont fournies aux parties prenantes telles que les organismes réglementaires, les organismes subventionnaires et les partenaires d’affaires ?

 

 

Thème 9 — Gestion des risques

 (Questions destinées au PC et au Président du comité de Gestion des risques ou au Président du comité d’audit)

 

1.       L’organisation a-t-elle une politique de gestion des risques et obtient-elle l’adhésion de l’ensemble des dirigeants et des employés ?
2.       L’organisation a-t-elle identifié et évalué les principaux risques susceptibles de menacer sa réputation, son intégrité, ses programmes et sa pérennité ainsi que les principaux mécanismes d’atténuation ?
3.       L’organisation a-t-elle un plan de gestion de la continuité advenant un sinistre ?
4.       Est-ce que les risques les plus élevés font l’objet de mandats d’audit interne afin de donner un niveau d’assurance suffisant aux membres du Conseil ?
5.       L’organisation se penche-t-elle occasionnellement sur les processus de contrôle des transactions, par exemple l’autorisation des dépenses, l’achat de biens et services, la vérification et l’approbation des factures et des frais de déplacement, l’émission des paiements, etc. ?
6.       Existe-t-il une délégation d’autorité documentée et comprise par tous les intervenants ?
7.       Le Conseil a-t-il convenu avec la direction de l’appétit pour le risque ? (le niveau de risque que l’organisation est prête à assumer)
8.       Le Conseil est-il informé en temps utile lors de la matérialisation d’un risque critique et s’assure-t-il que la direction les gère convenablement ?
9.       S’assure-t-on que la direction entretient une culture qui encourage l’identification et la gestion des risques ?
10.   Le Conseil s’est-il assuré que la direction a pris les mesures nécessaires pour se prémunir des risques émergents, notamment ceux reliés à la cybersécurité et aux cyberattaques ?

 

Thème 10 — Éthique et culture organisationnelle

 (Questions destinées au DG et au PC)

 

1.       Les politiques de votre organisation visant à favoriser l’éthique sont-elles bien connues et appliquées par ses employés, partenaires et bénévoles ?
2.       Le Conseil de votre organisation aborde-t-il régulièrement la question de l’éthique, notamment en recevant des rapports sur les plaintes, les dénonciations ?
3.       Le Conseil et l’équipe de direction de votre organisation participent-ils régulièrement à des activités de formation visant à parfaire leurs connaissances et leurs compétences en matière d’éthique ?
4.       S’assure-t-on que la direction générale est exemplaire et a développé une culture fondée sur des valeurs qui se déclinent dans l’ensemble de l’organisation ?
5.       S’assure-t-on que la direction prend au sérieux les manquements à l’éthique et les gère promptement et de façon cohérente ?
6.       S’assure-t-on que la direction a élaboré un code de conduite efficace auquel elle adhère, et veille à ce que tous les membres du personnel en comprennent la teneur, la pertinence et l’importance ?
7.       S’assure-t-on de l’existence de canaux de communication efficaces (ligne d’alerte téléphonique dédiée, assistance téléphonique, etc.) pour permettre aux membres du personnel et partenaires de signaler les problèmes ?
8.       Le Conseil reconnaît-il l’impact sur la réputation de l’organisation du comportement de ses principaux fournisseurs et autres partenaires ?
9.       Est-ce que le président du Conseil donne le ton au même titre que le DG au niveau des opérations sur la culture organisationnelle au nom de ses croyances, son attitude et ses valeurs ?
10.    Est-ce que l’organisation a la capacité d’intégrer des changements à même ses processus, outils ou comportements dans un délai raisonnable ?

 

 

Annexe

Présentation du schéma conceptuel

 

 

Thème (1) — Structure et fonctionnement du Conseil

Thème (2) — Travail du président du Conseil

Thème (3) — Relation entre le Conseil et le directeur général (direction)

Thème (4) — Structure et travail des comités du Conseil

Thème (5) — Performance du Conseil et de ses comités

Thème (6) — Recrutement, rémunération et évaluation du rendement du directeur général

Thème (7) — Planification stratégique

Thème (8) — Performance et reddition de comptes

Thème (9) — Gestion des risques

Thème (10) — Éthique et culture organisationnelle

Comment se comporter correctement lorsque l’on siège à un conseil d’administration ?


À chaque semaine je donne la parole à Johanne Bouchard* qui agit à titre d’auteure invitée sur mon blogue en gouvernance. Ce billet est une reprise de son article publié le 29 juin 2015.

L’auteure a une solide expérience d’interventions de consultation auprès de conseils d’administration de sociétés américaines et d’accompagnements auprès de hauts dirigeants de sociétés publiques. Dans ce billet, elle aborde ce que, selon elle, doivent être les qualités des bons administrateurs.

Quels conseils, simples et concrets, une personne qui connaît bien la nature des conseils d’administration, peut-elle prodiguer aux administrateurs eu égard aux qualités et aux comportements à adopter dans leurs rôles de fiduciaires ?

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

Siéger à un conseil d’administration : comment exceller ?

par

Johanne Bouchard

Conseil_d_administration_ws1013666341

En 2014, Bryan Stolle, un des contributeurs de la revue Forbes, également investisseur au Mohr Davidow Ventures, a examiné le sujet dans un billet de son blogue. Il a écrit : « L’excellence d’un conseil d’administration est le résultat de l’excellence de chacun de ses membres ». Il poursuit en soulignant ce qu’il considère en être les principaux attributs. Je suis d’accord avec lui mais j’aimerais ajouter ce qui, selon moi, fait la grandeur et la qualité exceptionnelle d’un membre de conseil d’administration.

Intention

D’abord et avant tout, être un excellent membre de conseil d’administration commence avec « l’intention » d’en être un, avec l’intention d’être bienveillant, et pas uniquement avec l’intention de faire partie d’un conseil d’administration. Malheureusement, trop de membres ne sont pas vraiment résolus et déterminés dans leur volonté de devenir membres d’un conseil.

La raison de se joindre à un conseil doit être authentique, avec un désir profond de bien servir l’entité. Être clair sur les raisons qui vous poussent à vous joindre au conseil est absolument essentiel, et cela aide à poser les jalons de votre réussite comme administrateur. En adhérant à un conseil d’administration, votre devoir, ainsi que celui de vos collègues administrateurs, est de créer une valeur ajoutée pour les actionnaires.

Attentes

Ensuite, vous devez comprendre ce que l’on attend de vous et du rôle que vous serez appelé à jouer au sein du conseil d’administration. Trop de membres d’un conseil ne comprennent pas leur rôle et saisissent mal les attentes liées à leur charge. Souvent, le président du conseil et le chef de la direction ne communiquent pas suffisamment clairement leurs attentes concernant leur rôle.

Ne tenez rien pour acquis concernant le temps que vous devrez consacrer à cette fonction et ce qu’on attendra de votre collaboration. Est-ce qu’on s’attend à ce que vous soyez présent à toutes les réunions, que vous siégiez à un comité ou que vous participiez aux conférences téléphoniques entre les réunions normalement prévues ? Votre réseau suffit-il, à ce stade-ci de la croissance de l’entreprise, pour répondre au recrutement de nouveaux talents et pour créer des partenariats ? Est-ce que votre expérience de l’industrie est adéquate; comment serez-vous un joueur-clé lors des discussions ? Y aura-t-il un programme d’accueil et d’intégration des nouveaux administrateurs pour faciliter votre intégration au sein du conseil. De plus, comment prévoyez-vous atteindre un niveau suffisant de connaissance des stratégies commerciales de l’entreprise? Soyez clairs en ce qui concerne les attentes.

Exécution

Vous devez honorer les engagements associés à votre responsabilité de membre du conseil d’administration. Cela signifie :

Être préparé : se présenter à une réunion du conseil d’administration sans avoir lu l’ordre du jour au préalable ainsi que les documents qui l’accompagnent est inacceptable. Cela peut paraître évident, mais vous seriez surpris du nombre de membres de conseils coupables d’un tel manque de préparation. De même, le chef de la direction, soucieux d’une gestion efficace du temps, a la responsabilité de s’assurer que le matériel soit adéquatement préparé et distribué à l’avance à tous les administrateurs.

Respecter le calendrier : soyez à l’heure et assistez à toutes les réunions du conseil d’administration.

Participation

Écoutez, questionnez et ne prenez la parole qu’au moment approprié. Ne cherchez pas à provoquer la controverse uniquement dans le but de vous faire valoir, en émettant un point de vue qui n’est ni opportun, ni pertinent. N’intervenez pas inutilement, sauf si vous avez une meilleure solution ou des choix alternatifs à proposer.

Bonnes manières

Il est important de faire preuve de tact, même lorsque vous essayez d’être directs. Évitez les manœuvres d’intimidation; le dénigrement et le harcèlement n’ont pas leur place au sein d’une entreprise, encore moins dans une salle du conseil. Soyez respectueux, en particulier pendant la présentation du comité de direction. Placez votre cellulaire en mode discrétion. La pratique de bonnes manières, notamment les comportements respectueux, vous permettront de gagner le respect des autres.

Faites valoir vos compétences

Vos compétences sont uniques. Cherchez à les présenter de manière à ce que le conseil d’administration puisse en apprécier les particularités. En mettant pleinement à profit vos compétences et en participant activement aux réunions, vous renforcerez la composition du conseil et vous participerez également à la réussite de l’entreprise en créant une valeur ajoutée pour les actionnaires.

Ne soyez pas timide

Compte tenu de la nature stratégique de cette fonction, vous devez avoir le courage de faire connaître votre point de vue. Un bon membre de conseil d’administration ne doit pas craindre d’inciter les autres membres à se tenir debout lorsque qu’il est conscient des intérêts en cause, ni d’être celui qui saura clairement faire preuve de discernement. Un bon membre de conseil d’administration doit être prêt à accomplir les tâches les plus délicates, y compris celles qui consistent à changer la direction de l’entreprise et le chef de la direction, quand c’est nécessaire, et avant qu’il ne soit trop tard.

Évitez les réclamations monétaires non justifiées

Soyez conscients des émoluments d’administrateur qu’on vous paie. N’abusez pas des privilèges. Les conséquences sont beaucoup trop grandes pour vous, pour la culture de l’entreprise et pour la réputation du conseil. Si vous voulez que je sois plus précise, je fais référence aux déclarations de certaines dépenses que vous devriez payer vous-même. Sachez que quelqu’un du service de la comptabilité examine vos comptes de dépenses, et que cela pourrait facilement ternir votre réputation si vous soumettiez des dépenses inacceptables.

Faites preuve de maturité

Vous vous joignez à un conseil qui agit au plus haut niveau des entreprises (privée, publique ou à but non lucratif), dont les actions et les interventions ont une grande incidence sur les collectivités en général. Gardez confidentiel ce qui est partagé lors des réunions du conseil, et ne soyez pas la source d’une fuite.

Maintenez une bonne conduite

Le privilège de siéger au sein d’un conseil d’administration vous expose à une grande visibilité. Soyez conscients de votre comportement lors des réunions du conseil d’administration et à l’extérieur de la salle de réunion; évitez de révéler certains de vos comportements inopportuns.

Confiance et intégrité

Faites ce que vous avez promis de faire. Engagez-vous à respecter ce que vous promettez. Tenez votre parole et soyez toujours à votre meilleur et fier d’être un membre respectable du conseil d’administration.

Valeurs

Un bon membre de conseil d’administration possède des valeurs qu’il ne craint pas de révéler. Il est confiant que ses agissements reflètent ses valeurs.

Un bon membre de conseil est un joueur actif et, comme Stolle l’a si bien noté, de bons administrateurs constituent l’assise d’un bon conseil d’administration. Ce conseil d’administration abordera sans hésiter les enjeux délicats, tels que la rémunération du chef de la direction et la planification de la relève – des éléments qui sont trop souvent négligés.

Un bon membre du conseil d’administration devrait se soucier d’être un modèle et une source d’inspiration en exerçant sa fonction, que ce soit à titre d’administrateur indépendant, de président, de vice-président, de président du conseil, d’administrateur principal, de président d’un comité – quel que soit son rôle – il devrait avoir la maturité et la sagesse nécessaires pour se retirer d’un conseil d’administration avec grâce, quand vient le temps opportun de le faire.

Enfin, prenez soin de ne pas être un membre dysfonctionnel, ralentissant les progrès du conseil d’administration. Bien qu’étant un administrateur indépendant, chacun a le même devoir qu’un joueur d’équipe.

Je vous invite à aspirer à être un bon membre de conseil d’administration et à respecter vos engagements. Siéger à un trop grand nombre de conseils ne fera pas de vous un meilleur membre.

Je conduis des évaluations du rendement des conseils d’administration, et, je vous avoue, en toute sincérité, que de nombreux administrateurs me font remarquer que certains de leurs collègues semblent se disperser et qu’ils ne sont pas les administrateurs auxquels on est en droit de s’attendre. Vous ne pouvez pas vous permettre de trop « étirer l’élastique » si vous voulez pleinement honorer vos engagements. Rappelez-vous que c’est acceptable de dire « non » à certaines demandes, d’être sélectif quant à ce que vous souhaitez faire, mais il est vital de bien accomplir votre charge dans le rôle que vous tenez.

______________________________

*Johanne Bouchard est maintenant consultante auprès de conseils d’administration, de chefs de la direction et de comités de direction. Johanne a développé une expertise au niveau de la dynamique et la de composition d’un conseil d’administration. Après l’obtention de son diplôme d’ingénieure en informatique, sa carrière l’a menée à œuvrer dans tous les domaines du secteur de la technologie, du marketing et de la stratégie à l’échelle mondiale.

Pour en connaître plus sur le site de Johanne Bouchard

Conseils d’administration d’OBNL et recrutement d’administrateurs


Ayant collaboré à la réalisation du volume « Améliorer la gouvernance de votre OSBL » des auteurs Jean-Paul Gagné et Daniel Lapointe, j’ai obtenu la primeur de la publication d’un chapitre sur mon blogue en gouvernance.

Pour vous donner un aperçu de cette importante publication sur la gouvernance des organisations sans but lucratif (OSBN), j’ai eu la permission des éditeurs, Éditions Caractère et Éditions Transcontinental, de publier l’intégralité du chapitre 4 qui porte sur la composition du conseil d’administration et le recrutement d’administrateurs d’OSBL.

Je suis heureux de vous offrir cette primeur et j’espère que le sujet vous intéressera suffisamment pour vous inciter à vous procurer cette nouvelle publication.

Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, un court extrait de la page d’introduction du chapitre 4. Je vous invite à cliquer sur le lien suivant pour avoir accès à l’intégralité du chapitre.

 

La composition du conseil d’administration et le recrutement d’administrateurs

 

Vous pouvez également feuilleter cet ouvrage en cliquant ici

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

__________________________________

 

Les administrateurs d’un OSBL sont généralement élus dans le cadre d’un processus électoral tenu lors d’une assemblée générale des membres. Ils peuvent aussi faire l’objet d’une cooptation ou être désignés en vertu d’un mécanisme particulier prévu dans une loi (tel le Code des professions).

ameliorezlagouvernancedevotreosbl

 

L’élection des administrateurs par l’assemblée générale emprunte l’un ou l’autre des deux scénarios suivants:

1. Les OSBL ont habituellement des membres qui sont invités à une assemblée générale annuelle et qui élisent des administrateurs aux postes à pourvoir. Le plus souvent, les personnes présentes sont aussi appelées à choisir l’auditeur qui fera la vérification des états financiers de l’organisation pour l’exercice en cours.

2. Certains OSBL n’ont pas d’autres membres que leurs administrateurs. Dans ce cas, ces derniers se transforment une fois par année en membres de l’assemblée générale, élisent des administrateurs aux postes vacants et choisissent l’auditeur qui fera la vérification des états financiers de l’organisation pour l’exercice en cours.

 

 

 

La cooptation autorise le recrutement d’administrateurs en cours d’exercice. Les personnes ainsi choisies entrent au CA lors de la première réunion suivant celle où leur nomination a été approuvée. Ils y siègent de plein droit, en dépit du fait que celle-ci ne sera entérinée qu’à l’assemblée générale annuelle suivante. La cooptation n’est pas seulement utile pour pourvoir rapidement aux postes vacants; elle a aussi comme avantage de permettre au conseil de faciliter la nomination de candidats dont le profil correspond aux compétences recherchées.

Dans les organisations qui élisent leurs administrateurs en assemblée générale, la sélection en fonction des profils déterminés peut présenter une difficulté : en effet, il peut arriver que les membres choisissent des administrateurs selon des critères qui ont peu à voir avec les compétences recherchées, telles leur amabilité, leur popularité, etc. Le comité du conseil responsable du recrutement d’administrateurs peut présenter une liste de candidats (en mentionnant leurs qualifications pour les postes à pourvoir) dans l’espoir que l’assemblée lui fasse confiance et les élise. Certains organismes préfèrent coopter en cours d’exercice, ce qui les assure de recruter un administrateur qui a le profil désiré et qui entrera en fonction dès sa sélection.

Quant à l’élection du président du conseil et, le cas échéant, du vice-président, du secrétaire et du trésorier, elle est généralement faite par les administrateurs. Dans les ordres professionnels, le Code des professions leur permet de déterminer par règlement si le président est élu par le conseil d’administration ou au suffrage universel des membres. Comme on l’a vu, malgré son caractère démocratique, l’élection du président au suffrage universel des membres présente un certain risque, puisqu’un candidat peut réussir à se faire élire à ce poste sans expérience du fonctionnement d’un CA ou en poursuivant un objectif qui tranche avec la mission, la vision ou encore le plan stratégique de l’organisation. Cet enjeu ne doit pas être pris à la légère par le CA. Une façon de minimiser ce risque est de faire connaître aux membres votants le profil recherché pour le président, profil qui aura été préalablement établi par le conseil. On peut notamment y inclure une expérience de conseil d’administration, ce qui aide à réduire la période d’apprentissage du nouveau président et facilite une transition en douceur.

Les pratiques émergentes à long terme


Voici un article que je ne peux passer sous silence tellement le travail de recherche de Brian Tomlinson* est exemplaire eu égard à l’exploration des pratiques émergentes à long terme.

Je vous invite à prendre connaissance des points soulevés dans cet article paru sur le site de Harvard Law School on Corporate Governance.

Bonne lecture !

 

Emerging Practice in Long-Term Plans

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « long terme »

 

 

Executive Summary

The information asymmetry between corporations and investors is particularly severe regarding long-term strategic plans: existing market infrastructure for disclosure is very short-term focused and underserves sources of long-term value creation. The CEO-delivered long-term plan gives corporations an opportunity to reorient disclosures to the long-term. The Strategic Investor Initiative provides comprehensive guidance to CEOs and their Investor Relations teams on the key components of a long-term plan—set out in our Investor Letter to CEOs.

Through feedback from institutional investors we have identified content elements essential to an effective investor-facing CEO-delivered long-term plan:

  1. Additive to existing disclosures: Add information to the public domain or provide additional context for existing disclosures.
  2. More than marketing—contextualized disclosures: A strategic plan narrative is not a recitation of good news stories. Initiatives should be contextualized to help investors assess their significance.
  3. Focused by materiality: A long-term plan should disclose information that is material to the operating performance and financial prospects of the business.
  4. Integrated discussion of material Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues: Part of an integrated discussion—not a silo or presented as a list of “awards.”
  5. Forward looking information: A long-term plan is an opportunity for a company to meaningfully talk about the future across a broad range of value-relevant topics, accompanied by goals, metrics and milestones.

Emerging Practice in Long-Term Plans—By Key Theme

In this paper we set out key themes that CEOs have addressed in their long-term plan presentations delivered at CEO Investor Forums convened by the Strategic Investor Initiative. We identify why each theme is an enduring subject of investor interest (and identified in our Investor Letter to CEOs) and provide examples from CEO presentations of content that was well-received by institutional investors. We also provide suggestions of key additions that CEOs can make to enhance the utility of disclosures on these key themes:

  1. Risk factors and mega-trends: Highlights presentations by Delphi and PG&E
  2. Corporate governance: Highlights presentations by Medtronic and Merck
  3. Capital allocation: Highlights the presentation by Becton Dickinson
  4. Human capital management: Highlights the presentation by Aetna
  5. Shareholder and stakeholder engagement: Highlights the presentations by Merck, Telia, and Prudential

We are delighted to feature Insights from FCLTGlobal in the corporate governance theme.

Introduction: The Long-Term Imperative

A gap exists between a corporation’s knowledge of its practices and prospects and the knowledge of its investors. Periodic disclosures are intended to reduce the level of this information asymmetry. This structural information gap between corporations and investors appears particularly severe regarding forward-looking information about a corporation’s long-term strategic plans—an issue long-term institutional investors are increasingly vocal about wanting companies to address.

Corporations endure, and often plan, over decades through long-term-focused management and strategic planning processes. Although a strategic plan can address periods of 3, 5, or 15 years, corporations tend to communicate in quarters (through the 10-Q and earnings call).

Some corporations do, of course, communicate with investors through a variety of other forums (in addition to the earnings call), including investor days, industry conferences, and, increasingly, common year-round bilateral engagements, in addition to mandatory disclosures such as the 10-K and voluntary disclosures, such as sustainability reports. However, the landscape of corporate communications with shareholders does not include a disclosure venue focused on long-term sustainable value creation. The existing market infrastructure for disclosure remains very short-term focused and the mix of information provided underserves sources of long-term value creation—to the continuing of frustration of long-term institutional investors.

Through our convening of CEO Investor Forums, we provide a venue for a curated conversation between leading CEOs and long-term investors to help plug an unmet need for information with a long-term time horizon and reorient capital markets toward the long term. To date, over 25 companies (representing over $2 trillion in market cap) have presented long-term plans at a CEO-Investor Forum to an investor audience representing in excess of $25 trillion in AUM.

In this paper, we set out examples of emerging practices in CEO-presented long-term plans, identify core investor content expectations, and highlight how CEOs are seeking to tackle key themes for improved corporate disclosure. We hope both investors and corporations find it useful.

Six Reasons Companies Should Share Their Long-Term Thinking

  1. To demonstrate that there is an effective long-term strategy
  2. To show that the company can anticipate and capitalize on mega-trends
  3. To help investors understand ESG issues “through the eyes of management”
  4. To encourage the C-Suite to reflect on the corporate ecosystem, including a consideration of its stakeholders
  5. To help inspire—and retain—both employees and investors over the long-term
  6. To foster leadership in corporate-shareholder communications

Adapted from “Far Beyond the Quarterly Call: CECP’s first CEO Investor Forum” published in the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance

SII’s Investor Letter to CEOs

In the Strategic Investor Initiative’s Investor Letter to CEOs, signed by Bill McNabb and nine leading institutional investors, we ask CEOs to present their long-term plans for sustainable value creation at our CEO Investor Forums.

The letter asks CEOs to: set out a long-term plan with a five-year trajectory accompanied by goals, metrics and milestones; offer commentary on the role of the board in formulating and monitoring strategy; discuss financially material risks and the firm’s framework for identifying material ESG risks; and review the company’s capital allocation strategy.

The Themes of the Seven Questions Every CEO Should Be Able to Answer

How Do These Themes Connect to Long-Term Strategy:

  1. Risk factors and mega-trends
  2. Corporate purpose and role in society
  3. Frameworks for shareholder engagement
  4. Financially material business issues and frameworks for identifying those issues
  5. Human capital management
  6. Board composition
  7. Role of the board

Investor Feedback: Helping CEOS Meet Investors’ Content Expectations

CEO-delivered long-term plans can help plug a gap in existing market infrastructure and help meet the information needs of long-term investors. To date, we’ve received feedback, both in person and online, from hundreds of institutional investors on the long-term plans presented at CEO Investor Forums. We asked these investors to identify in each CEO presentation the themes that were most useful and the themes that were least useful for informing their investment outlook, voting, and engagement activities.

Building on this investor feedback, we have identified content elements essential to an effective investor-facing long-term plan—in addition to the expectations set out in our Investor Letter to CEOs:

Additive to existing disclosures: A long-term plan should add information to the public domain or provide additional contextualizing commentary to such existing disclosures (e.g., build on disclosures made at the investor day or in other disclosure forums).

More than marketing—Contextualized disclosures: a strategic plan narrative is not a recitation of good news stories. A long-term plan presentation is an opportunity to delineate key risks and challenges facing the business and to help investors see those issues “through the eyes of management,” given management’s “unique perspective on its business that only it can present.” Highlighting key initiatives within the business is useful for expanding investor understanding. However, to avoid being dismissed as marketing, such initiatives should be contextualized to help investors assess their significance within the business.

Focused by materiality—A long-term plan should disclose information that is material to the operating performance and financial prospects of the business over the long term. Material business issues tend to vary systematically by sector, giving management an opportunity to provide a focused presentation on issues of enduring investor interest and relevance for that sector. The disclosure framework provided by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) gives corporations a method to identify and organize such disclosures in a way relevant to investors.

Integrated discussion of material ESG issues—These issues are widely acknowledged as core to business success over the long term. As a result, ESG issues should be part of an integrated discussion—not be placed in a silo or presented as list of “awards.”

Forward looking information—Corporate disclosure abounds with backward-looking information. A long-term plan is an opportunity for a company to meaningfully talk about the future across a broad range of value-relevant topics, accompanied by goals, metrics, and milestones.

Least Useful CEO Disclosures

  1. Disclosures unconnected to long-term strategy
  2. Sustainability presented as a silo or eye-catching initiatives without adequate context
  3. Extended commentary on the history of the corporation
  4. Discussions of “corporate purpose” unconnected to operations and strategy
  5. Extended discussion of issues immaterial to the industry or sector

Emerging Practice in Long-Term Plans: Early Evidence From a Year of CEO Investor Forums

The long-term plan is an experimental form. CEOs who have presented their corporations’ plans to date have been guided by our Investor Letter to CEOs—but they do have broad flexibility to set out their corporations’ authentic long-term narratives.

Set out below are key themes addressed in long-term plans presented at our CEO Investor Forums and examples of how companies have tackled those themes. In each case, we identify the broad market need for such information and why it is relevant to long-term-focused investors.

Risk Factors and Mega-Trends

Leading executives spend much of their time addressing long-term business issues and strategy with their teams—and increasingly with their boards. Such thinking requires a consideration of the mega-trends impacting the operating model, product markets, and geographies in which their company operates. Capitalizing on these long-range trends is a key informing context for the development of a corporation’s strategic plan and the capital allocation decisions that will enable the plan to be implemented.

To date, existing disclosures have not proved effective in enabling corporations to talk about these long-term, forward-looking trends with their investors—and, when disclosures are made on these topics, they tend to be of low utility to investors.

For example, the MD&A section of the 10-K 9 requires disclosures regarding “known trends and uncertainties.” In considering disclosure, the corporation is asked to assess the likelihood of the trend occurring and, if it is reasonably likely to occur, seek to quantify the potential impact of that trend. This gives a corporation an opportunity to reflect on long-range trends—information highly valuable to investors. The wide discretion provided by the two-part materiality determination significantly reduces the extent of such disclosures, which also tend to be static—with only a small percentage of firms making significant changes to MD&A language over time. Risk factor disclosures are also a requirement in the 10-K. Specific risk factor disclosures are decision-relevant to investors.

However, disclosures of risk factors often lack corporation-specific elements, tend toward generic or vague language—best characterized as boilerplate—drafted more as a litigation shield than as a medium through which to inform investors.

As a result, existing disclosures inadequately capture the elements and outcomes of the strategic planning process and often fail to address long-range trends (whether market, environmental or societal) in a manner useful to investors.

Mega-trends Identified at CEO Investor Forums: Investor Letter Question:
  1. The transition to a low-carbon economy (PG&E)
  2. Disruption and democratization of product markets (UPS)
  3. Aging societies (BD)
  4. Unsustainable health care systems (Aetna, Medtronic)
  5. Technology amplifying corporate risk from cybersecurity to reputation (Delphi)

 

Mega-trends“What are the key risk factors and mega-trends (such as climate change) your business faces over the next three to seven years and how have these influenced corporate strategy?”

Mega-trends represent a formidable set of financial, operational, governance, and policy challenges; these cross-cutting issues vary in intensity by sector.

Kevin Clark of Delphi highlighted how the major disruptions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as AI and drive-train electrification, are changing the nature of the automobile—and, consequently, the nature of the automobile technology business. Clark identified the mega-trends of “Safe, Green, and Connected” that are broadly impacting the automotive sector and sought to identify how trends were having impacts on long-term strategy across the business. One element identified was the extent to which new technology required significant adjustments in workplace skills and recruitment patterns. Delphi had responded to these new requirements through collaborations in “talent rich” recruitment markets among other initiatives.

Anthony Earley and Geisha Williams of PG&E structured their presentations in the context of the transition to a low-carbon economy in both energy generation and transport and highlighted how that trend was driven by regulation, the urgency of climate change, and consumer demand. That overview was contextualized by commentary on PG&E’s science-based emission reduction targets and proportion of renewable energy in its overall energy generation mix. Both presentations set out comparisons of carbon intensity with peer utilities and identified the trajectory of future energy generation and use.

Examples of Key Issues for Discussion in “Mega-Trends and Key Risks”

Climate Change and Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD): In those sectors with large exposures to issues involved in climate change, investors expect a structured discussion on the implications of climate change.

The TCFD provides a four-part framework through which corporations can address climate change:

  1. Governance
  2. Strategy
  3. Risk management
  4. Metrics and targets

Commentary, structured around the operating model of the business, enables investors to assess whether climate change adaptation is being implemented at an adequate scale and the extent of exposures to related risks, such as regulatory change.

The extent of scenario analysis conducted and the assumptions underlying it gives investors critical visibility into a corporation’s preparedness for climate change under various scenarios. Given the board-centric view of many long-term investors, commentary around the governance arrangements for assessing and responding to climate risk is particularly well received.

Corporate Governance: Long-Term Strategy, Compensation, and Composition

Long-term investors are deeply interested in effective governance and high-quality boards. Shareholders have some agency here as the boards of directors of listed companies are appointed by shareholders. This focus on the board is also a product of the board’s key responsibility as overseer of long-term strategy, although recent work suggests that many public boards neglect this key strategic role and are mired in issues of compliance.

Expectations of the competence and workload of corporate boards have expanded significantly as institutional investors have taken increasingly clear positions on key corporate governance issues such as risk and strategy oversight, entrenchment, pay, tenure, refreshment, and diversity. Investors have also set out broad elements they expect to see in effective corporate governance practices, providing companies with key signals to reflect in their governance arrangements. This more assertive stance is partly driven by a concern that boards have been too passive, unwilling to interrogate the strategy of assertive management teams. Boards have also been identified as a source of short-term performance pressures.

At the CEO Investor Forums, long-term plans are presented by CEOs. Therefore, we ask the CEO to provide commentary on the role of the board (included in our Investor Letter to CEOs). A CEO’s stated understanding of the role expected of the board and its functioning will give investors valuable insights into how effectively a corporation is governed and the extent to which the board is meaningfully involved in strategy formation, oversight and challenge. In a CEO’s discussion of the long-term plan, what is useful is setting out a commentary on the way the board signals for management to take the long-term view—but employ language that isn’t a boilerplate description of formal corporate governance arrangements.

Investor Letter Question: Board’s Involvement in Strategy

How will the composition of your board (today and in the future) help guide the corporation to its long-term strategic goals?

What is the role of the board in setting corporate strategy, setting incentives for and overseeing management?

We note that a useful discussion of the role of the board in corporate strategy, incentives, and oversight could take many forms and that an effective board may have a variety of characteristics beyond a box-tick of observable formal elements.

Omar Ishrak provided an overview of Medtronic’s corporate governance practices. He described a board deeply immersed in the strategy of the business at the business unit level in addition to the overall strategy for the firm (at country-specific and global levels). He indicated that an effort had been made to limit the time spent on compliance issues at the full board level to enable discussion of strategy by business unit and region (which consumed 4-6 hours of every board meeting). Ishrak indicated that these were real, iterative discussions with business unit heads. This is vital commentary as one of the most valuable activities for a board is to debate within itself and with the CEO and senior management the appropriateness and effectiveness of strategy; increasing the likelihood that the board does not take a reflexively subordinate role to CEO and senior management but rather adopts a stance of “constructive support and engaged challenge.”

Ishrak talked about the value of diversity within Medtronic’s board and throughout the organization. This complemented similar discussions in the presentations by Ken Frazier (CEO and Chairman of Merck) and Alex Gorsky (CEO and Chairman of Johnson & Johnson) about the need for corporations operating in health care, pharmaceuticals and medical devices to maintain a significant proportion of the board dedicated to professionals with a science background.

Going Further with the Board

Is the board enabled to be effective on long-term strategy:

Investors want to know that boards are performing well and are engaged in meaningful discussions on long-term strategy and related risks. A CEO can spend valuable time explaining the governance structures and procedures the company uses to ensure meaningful strategy discussions:

  1. Is the full board and relevant board committees structured to facilitate strategy discussion? Is time carved out for strategy discussion?
  2. Does the board test the assumptions underlying strategy and with what frequency?
  3. How does the board monitor strategy implementation? Does it seek external views in testing strategy?
  4. How is the board’s composition, now and in the future, related to long-term strategy?

Insights From FCLTGlobal

FCLTGlobal, a member-supported not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing practical tools that encourage long-term business and investment behaviors, recently published, “Long-term Boards in a Short-term World,” outlining a set of potential tools to aid boards considering taking a longer-term approach.

Directors, as shareholders’ representatives and leaders of the company, typically with average tenures that exceed management, are uniquely positioned to keep a company focused on the distant horizon, setting an appropriate long-term tone for both corporate management and shareholders.

One of the hallmarks of a successful long-term board is direct engagement with long-term shareholders. Companies that have developed board-level relationships with their key shareholders, hearing from them regularly on not just governance topics but also matters related to strategy and investment, benefit from investors’ perspective—lending invaluable insight that serves as a counterpoint to the often short-term views presented by media, the sell-side, and transient or activist investors.

Practical solutions to enable board-level dialogue with shareholders include:

  1. Appointing a lead independent director or directors as shareholder relationship manager(s),
  2. Encouraging director attendance and availability for shareholder meetings and at events like investor days, and
  3. Having a published statement which spells out the Board’s belief of its duty to long-term shareholders.

Capital Allocation

Capital allocation is the fuel that enables strategy implementation—making the investments the strategic plan identifies as key to long-term performance. Corporations strive to maintain enduring capital allocation frameworks. However, these must be adaptable to allow the corporation to make critical long-term investments and capitalize on the competitive landscape, market, and mega-trends it faces.

A long-term plan is an opportunity to highlight those long-term investments that will take time to pay off and perhaps how those investments distinguish the corporation from its industry peers. Investors should be given a working understanding of those investments and be able to track progress against the strategy over time. In Q&A, investors have sought commentary on how CEOs think about capital allocation in the context of the current concerns regarding the extent, timing, and impact of share buy-backs.

Investor Letter Context: Capital Allocation

A corporation should communicate its view of key financially material risks, including long-range mega-trends and the relevant frameworks used to identify ESG factors. The majority of this discussion should focus on the strategy and resources allocated to address future risks.

Investors expect a CEO to outline the corporation’s framework for allocating capital and how that framework enables strategy implementation. CEOs at our Forums have presented such frameworks supplemented by long-range capital distribution goals such as maintaining the historic dividend trajectory.

Vince Forlenza of Becton Dickinson (BD) described how capital allocation and business-relevant stakeholder investments were the keys to the long-term success of his business. Forlenza provided a detailed discussion of the capital allocation framework, with specific dollar allocations to each segment. That set up the discussion of strategy, beginning with BD’s 2020 Sustainability Strategy and Goals—with sustainability discussed as a whole-firm concept. Taking a similar approach, Kevin Clark of Delphi embedded the discussion of capital allocation in the context of the “Safe, Green, and Connected” mega-trends identified earlier. This commentary was well received as it placed the capital allocation framework in the context of core strategy.

Building on These Presentations—The Pozen Framework

Enhancing the discussion of capital allocation through Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management Robert Pozen’s capital allocation template:

For the next 3 to 5 years a corporation should outline the target percentage of its annual free cash flow allocated to the following:

Return to shareholders in the form of dividends (and share repurchases); and

Reinvest in the corporation for growth:

How much will be allocated to external growth via acquisitions (or how much will be funded by divestitures), even if this is a qualitative indication?

How much will be allocated to internal growth: i. R&D and innovation? ii. Major capital expenditures? iii. Human capital development? iv. Investments in other capitals or significant stakeholder groups as long-term system-health investments, investments in brand and reputation and in risk mitigation?

Human Capital Management

Human capital management is a key source of resilient business performance. As intangibles have become the dominant location of business value, how a business recruits, retains and incentivizes its people has become a value-relevant issue of investor interest.

Human capital management is an extremely broad topic for a CEO to address concisely in a long-term plan as it could include: high-level commentary on establishing and maintaining a strong organizational culture to support the firm’s mission and vision; Occupational Health and Safety compliance; or managing performance on key metrics such as training and development spend, employee turnover and employee engagement survey results. The picture is complicated further by effective human capital management tending not to rely on a single management technique or metric but rather a bundle of supportive practices that work together to drive value.

Corporations collect a wealth of human capital metrics for internal management purposes, much of which are not disclosed; regulatory requirements to disclose human capital are very limited.

Investors seek expanded disclosures on human capital. The Human Capital Management Coalition recently submitted a rule-making petition to the SEC to request that the Commission’s required disclosures be extended to include decision-useful information on human capital “policies, practices, and performance”. Investors such as BlackRock and Vanguard have identified human capital as a priority issue in their engagement strategies with investee companies. Index providers, including Thomson Reuters, have developed products (the Diversity & Inclusion Index is one) that acknowledge both the demand for good human capital practices and their value-relevance.

Given the complexity of the issue, a CEO must give priority to telling the corporation’s authentic human capital management story: how is the corporation investing in human capital? how does that relate to long-term strategy? what does the firm expect those investments to achieve in terms of improved performance?

Human Capital—Financially Material—The Evidence: Investor Letter Question:
  1. Companies identified as best to work for, outperform
  2. High-quality human capital management delivers enhanced returns
  3. Employee engagement correlated with performance
  4. Human capital analytics enable better performance
Human Capital“How do you manage your future human capital requirements over the long term and how do you communicate your future human capital management plans to your investors?”

A valuable example was provided by Mark Bertolini of Aetna; he spoke about human capital in the context of developing a culture of health for employees, in addition to addressing pay equity, as keys to long-term business performance.

Bertolini identified how employee engagement surveys were uncovering a pattern of employees talking about the difficulties of their working lives. These lower-income employees tended to be on food stamps and Medicaid. Bertolini explained his decision to raise wages and reduce the health care costs of these workers. He then identified key costs and outcomes: $27 million cost in year one, 5,700 workers affected, on average 22% increase in disposable income. This initiative was combined with programs on mindfulness, tuition assistance, and life style practices associated with productivity (e.g., paying employees to get 8 hours of sleep a night). Bertolini indicated that these measures were associated with significant increases in employee engagement scores—but he emphasized that it was vital for management to “get beyond the spreadsheet” to understand the benefits (hard and soft) of such investments in human capital over the long term. This commentary provides investors with an understanding of management’s view of the business and some of its thinking about its people and how that relates to the operating performance and financial prospects of the business.

Meeting Investor Needs on Human Capital

Human capital is a material issue across industries, though the relevance of human capital-related factors can vary by sector. Investors have identified a variety of measures by which corporations can enhance their disclosure of human capital issues.

Nine broad categories of information were deemed fundamental to human capital analysis as a starting point to ongoing dialogue with investors:

Workforce demographics Workforce stability Workforce composition
Workforce skills and capabilities Workforce culture and empowerment Workforce health and safety
Workforce productivity Human rights Workforce compensation and incentives

Shareholder and Stakeholder Engagement

Shareholder expectations of the volume and quality of engagement with investee companies have expanded significantly. The Commonsense Corporate Governance Principles regard effective corporate governance as requiring constructive engagement between a company and its shareholders. This is reflected in companies taking more time to prepare directors for on-going engagements and relationship building with investors and devoting significant time and resources to such engagements. Investors use these year-round engagements to inform their investing outlook, voting, and future engagement activities—and expect companies to be responsive, to some extent, to these engagements.

Shareholders expect investee companies to develop a rigorous process and framework for managing shareholder engagement and responding to the themes on which meaningful investor engagement takes place. Corporations can take several approaches. However, it is key that they enable their shareholders to understand the approach and structure of investor engagement efforts—this allows investors to respond and coordinate their activities accordingly.

A long-term plan also gives a CEO an opportunity to reflect on the company’s relationship with its broader community of stakeholders. As a long-term plan is an investor-facing presentation, it is useful for a CEO to highlight the framework through which the corporation identifies which stakeholder interests are critical to the long-term success of the company and how the corporation seeks to manage those stakeholder relationships.

Investor Letter Question: Shareholder and Stakeholder Engagement

What is the corporation’s framework/strategies for interacting with its shareholders and key stakeholders?

Prudential’s presentation by Marc Grier, Chairman of the Board, outlined a set of leading corporate governance practices that it has adopted, including designating its Lead Independent Director as the primary point of engagement with shareholders. Prudential had also sought to describe its approach to shareholder engagement, quantify such engagement, and account for its outcomes in expanded proxy statement disclosures (identified as an example of best practice by the Council of Institutional Investors).

Corporations have taken different approaches to identifying key stakeholder interests and describing the business, strategy and governance implications of that effort. Merck’s CEO Ken Frazier described a stakeholder matrix in which more than 40 stakeholder issues were analyzed in the context of long-term business performance. Frazier identified how that matrix helped inform board-level strategy considerations—and had proved useful in guiding the long-term direction of the company.

Telia CEO Johan Dennelind explained how its board of directors had adopted a statement of significant audiences and materiality. Through this kind of statement, a board acknowledges a specific set of stakeholders (broader than shareholders) relevant to its future success and key material issues for its business. The statement is a new tool on the corporate reporting landscape. In addition to the benefits it offers a board in thinking through key issues and stakeholders, such a statement may help CEOs provide investors with an overview of how the corporation thinks about and manages material stakeholder interests.

__________________________________________________________

*Brian Tomlinson is Research Director of the Strategic Investor Initiative at CECP. This post is based on a CECP memorandum by Mr. Tomlinson. Related research from the Program on Corporate Governance includes Socially Responsible Firms by Alan Ferrell, Hao Liang, and Luc Renneboog (discussed on the Forum here) and Social Responsibility Resolutions by Scott Hirst (discussed on the Forum here).

Le futur code de gouvernance du Royaume-Uni


Je vous invite à prendre connaissance du futur code de gouvernance du Royaume-Uni (R.-U.).

À cet effet, voici un billet de Martin Lipton*, paru sur le site de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, qui présente un aperçu des points saillants.

Bonne lecture !

 

The Financial Reporting Council today [July 16, 2018] issued a revised corporate governance code and announced that a revised investor stewardship code will be issued before year-end. The code and related materials are available at www.frc.org.uk.

The revised code contains two provisions that will be of great interest. They will undoubtedly be relied upon in efforts to update the various U.S. corporate governance codes. They will also be used to further the efforts to expand the sustainability and stakeholder concerns of U.S. boards.

First, the introduction to the code makes note that shareholder primacy needs to be moderated and that the concept of the “purpose” of the corporation, as long put forth in the U.K. by Colin Mayer and recently popularized in the U.S. by Larry Fink in his 2018 letter to CEO’s, is the guiding principle for the revised code:

Companies do not exist in isolation. Successful and sustainable businesses underpin our economy and society by providing employment and creating prosperity. To succeed in the long-term, directors and the companies they lead need to build and maintain successful relationships with a wide range of stakeholders. These relationships will be successful and enduring if they are based on respect, trust and mutual benefit. Accordingly, a company’s culture should promote integrity and openness, value diversity and be responsive to the views of shareholders and wider stakeholders.

Second, the code provides that the board is responsible for policies and practices which reinforce a healthy culture and that the board should engage:

with the workforce through one, or a combination, of a director appointed from the workforce, a formal workforce advisory panel and a designated non-executive director, or other arrangements which meet the circumstances of the company and the workforce.

It will be interesting to see how this provision will be implemented and whether it gains any traction in the U.S.

 

 

The UK Corporate Governance Code

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « UK Corporate Governance Code 2018 »


Martin Lipton* is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy. This post is based on a Wachtell Lipton memorandum by Mr. Lipton.

Les femmes CEO des grandes entreprises ont-elles une rémunération plus élevée que leurs homologues masculins ? Leurs CA comptent-ils plus de femmes ?


Les femmes PDG (CEO) des grandes entreprises ont-elles une rémunération plus élevée ? Leurs conseils d’administration sont-ils plus diversifiés, et comptent-ils plus de femmes ?

Ce billet publié par Dan Marcec, directeur d’Equilar, paru sur le forum de la Harvard Law School, tente d’apporter une réponse à ces questions.

On peut retenir que les femmes CEO, en général, comptent légèrement plus de femmes sur leurs conseils.

Le nombre de femmes sur les CA varie selon la taille des entreprises. Plus l’entreprise est grande, plus le CA est susceptible de compter un nombre plus important de femmes :

Equilar 100 Gender Diversity Index,  24 %

Fortune 500,  22,5 %

Fortune 501-1000,  19,2 %

Entreprises plus petites,  14,1 %

Également, la rémunération des femmes CEO des 100 plus grandes entreprises (8 femmes) est de 21,4 M $ comparativement à la moyenne des 92 hommes CEO qui est de 16,4 M $, une différence significative, mais sur un petit échantillon de femmes CEO !

Je vous invite à prendre connaissance de l’article ci-dessous afin de mieux saisir toutes les nuances de cette étude.

Bonne lecture !

 

Do Women CEOs Earn More and Have More Diverse Boards?

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « Les femmes CEO des grandes entreprises ont-elles une rémunération plus élevée que leurs homologues masculins ? Leurs CA comptent-ils plus de femmes ? »

 

As gender equity and diversity in corporate leadership continue to be critical discussions, research is regularly published showing links between these factors and company performance. Based on an analysis of Equilar 100 companies—the largest U.S.-listed firms to file proxy statements to the SEC before March 31—women CEOs had a higher representation of women on their boards on average than companies led by male counterparts. They also were awarded higher compensation on average in 2017.

Overall, Equilar 100 companies with women CEOs had an average of 24.0% representation of women on their boards, vs. 23.5% for the companies with male CEOs. Furthermore, the women in the CEO position at Equilar 100 companies were well paid in 2017 with an average pay package of $21.4 million. By comparison, the men who were on the list received an average pay package of $16.4 million. The following two questions examined this data just below the surface, finding that the complete picture is more complicated than it appears.

 

Do Women CEOs Bring More Females Into the Boardroom?

 

The Equilar 100 study analyzed recently reported data for fiscal year 2017, including eight women CEOs, a drop from nine the previous year. While Meg Whitman has since left her position at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, she was still in the CEO position during the periods studied, so HPE is included in the analysis.

The answer to the question above—based on an analysis of Equilar 100 data—is yes, companies with women CEOs do have slightly more women in the boardroom. The list of Equilar 100 companies that had women CEOs in 2017 is below, inclusive of their current board composition as of March 31.

 

Company % Female Board Members Average Board Age Average Board Tenure
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co 38.5% 62.0 2.4
General Dynamics Corp 27.3% 64.0 5.9
Progressive Corp 27.3% 62.0 9.8
Oracle Corp 25.0% 70.5 14.4
Pepsico Inc 23.1% 63.0 5.5
IBM 20.0% 64.0 6.3
Lockheed Martin Corp 16.7% 66.0 6.6
Duke Energy Corp 14.3% 66.0 4.9
Women CEO Average 24.0% 64.7 7.0
Men CEO Average 
23.5% 63.0 7.2

 

There are two important factors to consider that give pause in definitively being able to say “women CEOs at Equilar 100 companies lead in gender diversity on boards.” While the numbers are clear—and they are—large-cap companies are much more likely to have women on their boards overall.

According to the recent Equilar Gender Diversity Index, Fortune 500 companies included in the Russell 3000 had an average of 22.5% women on their boards, as compared to 19.2% for Fortune 501-1000 companies and a much lower 14.1% for R3K firms outside the Fortune 1000. The Equilar 100 overall outpaced each of these groups.

It’s also worth noting that most CEOs are also on their own boards. Therefore, if CEOs were removed from the overall numbers, it’s likely the data would show Equilar 100 boards being more inclusive of independent women directors when a male CEO is in place.

 

 

The facts are the facts—boards at Equilar 100 companies led by women have a higher percentage of female directors than their counterparts. However, the small sample size—pointing to the lack of women in leadership overall—and these other mitigating factors make a definitive statement difficult to prove.

 

Do Women CEOs Make More Than Men?

 

While the women on the Equilar 100 list make more on average than the men, the caveat, of course, is that these numbers reflect a small sample size of women. To get to the eight highest-paid women on the list, you have to go all the way to number 87, whereas you don’t have to leave the top 10 to find the eight highest-paid men. The list of women on the Equilar 100 list (as well as their compensation rank) is below.

 

Company CEO 2017 Total Compensation ($MM) Equilar 100 RANK
Oracle Corp Safra A. Catz $40.7 4
Pepsico Indra K. Nooyi $25.9 7
General Dynamics Corp Phebe N. Novakovic $21.2 14
Duke Energy Corp Lynn J. Good $21.1 15
Lockheed Martin Corp Marillyn A. Hewson $20.2 16
IBM Virginia M. Rometty $18.0 30
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Margaret C. Whitman $14.8 60
Progressive Corp Susan P. Griffith $9.2 87
Women Ceo Average (N=8) $21.4
Men CEO Average 
(n=92) $16.4

 

Furthermore, similar to the findings on board composition, the larger the company, the higher the pay. Given the context of the Equilar 100 study more generally—that the largest companies by revenue tend to pay their CEOs more—this small sample size is not sufficient to make a claim that women CEOs earn more than men.

For example, using fiscal year 2016 data, it’s clear that the Equilar 100 stands out over all other public companies. (Since the Equilar 100 is an “early look” at proxy season, comprehensive data is not yet available for these other company groups in 2017.) In 2016, Equilar 100 CEOs were awarded $15.0 million at the median, in comparison to $11.0 million for Equilar 500 companies, and just $6.1 million for all public companies with more than $1 billion in revenue.

 

 

In other words, as with board composition, the numbers do indicate that women CEOs earn more than men at face value, but there is more than meets the eye. Ultimately, proof of greater equity in executive compensation and board diversity when women are CEOs is inconclusive from this analysis, highlighting the importance of questioning numbers at face value. Indeed, an academic study was released recently that found there is no meaningful difference in pay between men and women at the CEO level. Each company’s compensation and board refreshment strategy is unique to their circumstances, and monolithic assumptions are not always fair. The gravity of these decisions pored over by each board of directors and their executive teams spotlights the rise of shareholder scrutiny and direct engagement on these matters.

Quelles sont les priorités des investisseurs en matière de gouvernance des sociétés ?


Les investisseurs institutionnels (II) cherchent constamment à améliorer leur portefeuille d’entreprises dans une perspective à long terme.

Ainsi, les II sont à la recherche de moyens pour communiquer efficacement avec les sociétés dans lesquelles elles investissent.

L’étude menée par Steve W. Klemash, leader du EY Center for Board Matters, auprès de 60 grands investisseurs institutionnels américains tous azimuts, a tenté de déterminer les cinq plus importantes priorités à accorder aux choix des entreprises sous gestion.

Voici donc les cinq grands thèmes qui intéressent les investisseurs institutionnels dans la sélection des entreprises :

(1) La composition du conseil d’administration, avec un œil sur l’amélioration de la diversité ;

(2) Un niveau d’expertise des administrateurs qui est en lien avec les objectifs d’affaires de l’entreprise ;

(3) Une attention accrue accordée aux risques de nature climatique ou environnemental ;

(4) Une attention marquée accordée à la gestion des talents

(5) Une rémunération qui est très bien alignée sur la performance et la stratégie.

Je vous propose un résumé des principaux résultats de travaux de recherche de EY. Pour plus de détails, je vous invite à consulter l’article ci-dessous.

Bonne lecture !

 

2018 Proxy Season Review

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « investisseurs institutionnels »

Les cinq grandes priorités des investisseurs institutionnels en 2018

 

1. La composition du conseil d’administration, avec un œil sur l’amélioration de la diversité

 

2. Un niveau d’expertise des administrateurs qui est en lien avec les objectifs d’affaires de l’entreprise

 

 

3. Une attention accrue accordée aux risques de nature climatique ou environnemental

 

 

4. Une attention marquée accordée à la gestion des talents

 

 

5. Une rémunération qui est très bien alignée sur la performance et la stratégie

 

 

Investor priorities as seen through the shareholder proposal lens

 

For a broader perspective of investor priorities, a review of the top shareholder proposal topics of 2017, based on average support, shows that around half focus on environment and social topics. While the average support for many of these proposal topics appear low, this understates impact. Environmental and social proposals typically see withdrawal rates of around one-third, primarily due to company-investor successes in reaching agreement. Depending on the company situation and specific proposal being voted, some proposals may receive strong support of votes cast by a company’s broader base of investors.

Conclusion

 

Institutional investors are increasingly asking companies about how they are navigating changing business environments, technological disruption and environmental challenges to achieve long-term, sustained growth. By addressing these same topics in their interactions with and disclosures to investors, boards and executives have an opportunity to highlight to investors how the company is positioned to navigate business transformations over the short- and long-term. This opportunity, in turn, enables companies to attract the kind of investors that support the approach taken by the board and management. Like strong board composition, enhanced disclosure and investor engagement efforts can serve as competitive advantages.

 

Questions for the board to consider

 

– Are there opportunities to strengthen disclosures around the board’s composition and director qualifications and how these support company strategy?

– Do the board and its committees have appropriate access to deep, timely expertise and open communication channels with management as needed for effective oversight?

– Do the board and management understand how key investors generally view the company’s disclosures and strategic initiatives regarding environmental and social matters?

– How does the board define and articulate its oversight responsibilities with regard to talent? And does the board believe that the company has an adequate plan for talent management considering recent employee and employment-related developments and the company’s competitive position?

– To what extent have the board and management offered to dialogue with the governance specialists at their key investor organizations, whether active or passive, and including the largest and smallest, vocal shareholder proponents?

 ____________________________________________
*Steve W. Klemash* is EY Americas Leader at the EY Center for Board Matters. This post is based on an EY publication by Mr. Klemash.

Les firmes européennes doivent se préparer à la mise en place du « Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD) »


Ma veille en gouvernance m’amène à vous proposer la lecture d’un article publié par Demi Derem* et Elizabeth Maiellano sur les défis posés par un ensemble de directives récemment approuvées par le Parlement européen et qui traitent du droit des actionnaires : « Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD) ».
La Commission Européenne (CE) veut que les entreprises cotées aient une meilleure connaissance de leurs investisseurs et qu’elles soient en mesure d’interagir d’une manière claire et transparente avec eux. Voici un extrait qui montre l’ampleur des nouvelles directives.

The SRD also grants shareholders the right to vote on companies’ remuneration policies, which may increase the policy analysis and assessment required by the buy-side. Similarly, the SRD requires that any material transaction (as defined by national regulators) between a listed company and a related third party must be announced and approved by the shareholders and the board.

Depending on national requirements, the announcement may also need to be accompanied by a report about the impact of the transaction from an independent third party, the board or a committee of independent directors.

La lecture de cet article montre que les entreprises ont peu de temps pour se conformer aux directives. Les auteurs explorent les impacts de l’adoption de ces règles sur les principaux intéressés, notamment sur les investisseurs institutionnels et les firmes d’intermédiation.

Pour en savoir davantage sur la préparation requise aux règles du SRD, vous pouvez consulter le rapport de la firme Broadridge, Shareholder Rights Directive : Advancing to a State of Readiness.

Bonne lecture !

 

Advancing to a state of readiness: the new Shareholder Rights Directive

 

Shareholder Rights Directive

 

 

All parties in the shareholder communication chain need to prepare for the enhanced requirements of the new Shareholder Rights Directive—and try to influence its local implementation to encourage a harmonised approach.

The new Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD), adopted by the European Council and approved by the European Parliament this spring, is a laudable initiative intended to encourage shareholder engagement in listed companies in Europe and improve the transparency of related processes— including proxy voting. The European Commission (EC) wants to see proof that companies understand their investors and communicate with them in a clear and transparent manner.

The new SRD updates its 2007 predecessor and introduces some new requirements related to remunerating directors, identifying shareholders, facilitating the exercise of shareholder rights, transmitting information and providing transparency for institutional investors, asset managers and proxy advisors. The majority of the SRD is required to be translated into national law by European member states by June 2019 (although some elements will not come into force until September 2020).

Given the complexities introduced by the new SRD, firms across the shareholder communication chain need to begin preparing now if they are to meet its requirements by 2019. These are expected to entail significant and potentially costly changes relating to process reforms and transparency requirements, impacting issuers, asset managers, custodians, central securities depositories (CSDs), and a range of other intermediaries and service providers.

The two-year member-state transposition process will involve adaptation of the SRD’s requirements to reflect domestic market structures and local legal processes. We encourage all affected firms to engage with the EC and national regulators, and share their views on how the SRD should be implemented. This is vital for achieving outcomes that are equitable and commensurate with the corporate governance benefits of the SRD. If national regulators opt for significantly different interpretations of the SRD, this would be challenging for industry participants.

For example, one global custodian has expressed concern about the risk of national divergence requiring compliance efforts to be tailored to each regulator’s interpretation, thereby increasing the complexity and cost of SRD implementation for firms operating in more than one market.

Another securities services firm believes that discrepancies in implementation dates in different jurisdictions will be problematic for global firms.

Institutional investor impact

Institutional investors and asset managers are likely to be affected by the SRD in a number of ways. For example, both will have to be more transparent about their engagement with investee companies and how they integrate shareholder engagement into their investment strategy. Under the SRD this information must be reported annually and made available on buy-side firms’ websites. These firms must also disclose annually their voting behaviour and explain significant votes and their use of proxy advisor services. The SRD introduces these requirements on a comply-or-explain basis.

The SRD also grants shareholders the right to vote on companies’ remuneration policies, which may increase the policy analysis and assessment required by the buy-side. Similarly, the SRD requires that any material transaction (as defined by national regulators) between a listed company and a related third party must be announced and approved by the shareholders and the board. Depending on national requirements, the announcement may also need to be accompanied by a report about the impact of the transaction from an independent third party, the board or a committee of independent directors.

These new requirements will result in the production of more data and more reporting before a vote, potentially creating a significant burden on asset managers and investors as they try to manage this information flow. This burden is likely to be particularly noticeable with related party transactions.

Intermediary implications

Intermediary firms will need to keep a close watch on national requirements for the adoption of specific identification standards and data items for shareholder transparency requirements. For instance, markets could set different minimum levels of holdings that must be disclosed.

In addition, the SRD refers to providing data in a standardised format but does not specify the standards, so these may be provided by the EC. However, if the disclosure of certain data items would breach some countries’ data privacy laws, national regulators would have to alter the local requirements.

Another change introduced by the SRD is that intermediaries will have to store shareholder information for at least 12 months after they become aware that someone has ceased to be a shareholder. Data storage and retention requirements are therefore likely to increase.

A particular concern for intermediaries is that the SRD requires them to transmit general meeting agenda and voting information “without delay”. National regulators could interpret this as a requirement for real-time or near-real-time reporting. If this means that vote information has to be transmitted immediately, intermediaries will need to introduce intraday processing support. Meanwhile, the need to use a standardised format could result in amendments to current SWIFT message formats, with associated costs. It is also likely that the volume of voting instructions and amendments will increase after implementation of the SRD.

One custodian has expressed concern about the lack of regulatory clarity on whether post-meeting announcements will also have to be transmitted immediately. The EC and national regulators will need to confirm the level of information that must be passed on to shareholders. Some intermediaries may face operational headaches if their current processes can support the transmission of voting information but not of other data items in the same standardised and immediate manner.

Intermediaries could face the brunt of the costs of SRD implementation, particularly because European member states can prohibit intermediaries from charging fees for the cost of changes related to disclosure. If regulators decide to mandate this, intermediaries will have to absorb all compliance costs rather than passing a percentage on to clients.

If regulators are more lenient, intermediaries may be able to pass on certain costs, but the SRD specifies that these must be proven to be proportionate to the cost of offering the service. Intermediaries could therefore have to pay for the full cost of transparency requirements in some jurisdictions, while providing an audit trail of operational costs (and facing questions about any inefficiencies) in others.

The bundling of proxy costs into custody fees may also need re-evaluating, because intermediaries will need to disclose their fees in relation to proxy services. The SRD stresses the need for “non-discriminatory and proportionate” fees and jurisdictions will also have the power to prohibit fees for proxy services. If some do prohibit fees, firms’ business models will need to be revised.

Widespread impact

Issuers and registrars will also be affected by the SRD in relation to the standardisation of meeting announcements and the provision of vote confirmation. And proxy service providers will be impacted, although global firms that already comply with some jurisdictions’ voluntary requirements in transparency and reporting will feel less short-term impact. They could face both opportunities and challenges—with the potential to deliver new services to help intermediaries to support requirements such as vote confirmation, but needing to invest to do so.

The SRD’s transposition period presents market participants with an opportunity to review the impact on their operations, engage with regulators and assess their readiness. It is something that the industry should embrace and collaborate on to get right.

___________________________________________

*Demi Derem is general manager for Investor Communication Solutions, International, at Broadridge, and Elizabeth Maiellano is vice president for product management, Investor Communication Solutions, International, at Broadridge. This article has been prepared in collaboration with Broadridge, a supporter of Board Agenda.

Billets récents publiés sur mon blogue en gouvernance en janvier 2018


Voici les quinze billets publiés sur mon blogue en gouvernance des sociétés en janvier 2018.

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont toujours les bienvenus.

 

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « blogue en gouvernance »

 

  1. Que pensez-vous des classes d’actions à droit de vote multiples ?
  2. Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 25 janvier 2018
  3. Aspects fondamentaux à considérer par les administrateurs dans la gouvernance des organisations
  4. Comment se préparer à la divulgation du ratio qui révèle la rémunération du CEO comparée à la moyenne des salaires des employés
  5. Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 18 janvier 2018
  6. BlackRock soutient le modèle de gouvernance basé sur la primauté accordée aux parties prenantes
  7. Adapter le modèle de gouvernance à la réalité des OBNL de petite taille
  8. Les administrateurs de sociétés qui cumulent plusieurs postes deviennent-ils trop accaparés ?
  9. Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 12 janvier 2018
  10. Quelle est l’influence des femmes CEO sur la structure de gouvernance des entreprises ?
  11. La souveraineté des conseils d’administration
  12. Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 4 janvier 2018
  13. Enquête de Deloitte sur la diversité des conseils d’administration
  14. Dix thèmes prioritaires à mettre à l’ordre du jour des Boards en 2018
  15. La gouvernance relative aux sociétés en 2017 | Un « Survey » des entreprises du SV 150 et de la S&P 100

Comment se préparer à la divulgation du ratio qui révèle la rémunération du CEO comparée à la moyenne des salaires des employés


Nous savons que le Dodd-Frank Act aux États-Unis oblige les entreprises publiques à publier le ratio indiquant la rémunération du CEO en comparaison avec la moyenne des salaires des employés.

L’obligation de publier ces ratios dans les rapports aux actionnaires commence cette année, et les entreprises doivent se préparer aux répercussions de cette divulgation.

L’article ci-dessous, publié par Joe Mallin, associé de la firme Pay Governance, paru sur le site du HLS Forum, met l’accent sur les impacts envisagés auprès des parties prenantes.

Quelles seront les retombées de la publication de ces statistiques tant redoutées ? C’est ce dont il est question dans ce court article.

Le graphique qui suit est assez révélateur d’un problème qui concerne les sociétés américaines et canadiennes !

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « CEO pay ratio au Canada »

 

Comment l’AMF réagira-t-elle à cette nouvelle donne ?

Bonne lecture !

 

Future Issues After the Publication of the CEO Pay Ratio

 

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « CEO pay ratio au Canada »
CEO = 184 x average worker pay – Canada CEO Pay – BayStreetEx

Key Takeaways

 

The CEO Pay Ratio will be published in 2018 proxy season.

As companies begin calculating their Ratios, it is also time to begin thinking about the timeframe immediately following the proxy statement publication and the possible reactions of key interested parties.

We suggest that companies determine how they want to respond to inquiries about the published CEO Pay Ratio and evaluate whether alternative Ratios should be calculated to provide appropriate context.

Companies will need to decide whether to be proactive or reactive to potential inquiries. 

 

Interested Parties

 

A. The Media

 

We envision several likely outcomes as the media begins reporting on the CEO Pay Ratio. These include:

The local publication of tables comparing the CEO Pay Ratios of companies in specific geographies, such as large cities

Similar tables comparing companies across industries, likely by the national media

General conclusions between companies with higher versus lower Ratios (e.g., “high” = “bad”and “low” = “not as bad”)

We believe the tables published by both local and national media will include CEO pay, median employee pay, and the Ratio itself. Such tables will illustrate the fact that the CEO Pay Ratio consists of three parts, and the relationship among these components is key to understanding how employees may perceive its publication. This cross-company media comparison will be problematic: the SEC has stated it does not expect CEO Pay Ratios to be comparable across companies because of the variety of methodologies allowed for computing median employee pay. [1] This distinction is unlikely to make its way into media reports.

B. Employees

 

With the publication of the CEO Pay Ratio, employees will get a first glimpse into how their colleagues are paid, specifically the median pay of their colleagues. This will be a glimpse of just one number, but it will be a number they did not have access to before. As such, employees will be interested in two aspects of the CEO Pay Ratio:

Internal Comparisons to Median Pay—Employees will compare their own pay to the median employee’s pay. The obvious issue is that, by definition, half will be paid below the median; this could create a morale issue for those employees. Likewise, employees paid above the median could feel the same way if their pay is closer to the median than they had expected. Finally, the methodology used to calculate this median could complicate personal comparisons or cause other issues if the value of benefits are combined with direct compensation.

External Comparisons to Median Pay—Cross-company comparisons of median employee pay will be made. This will be especially prevalent among employees in the same geographic area and industry. Such comparisons could give the impression that a competitor pays more than one’s own company, and this could prompt employees to seek out a higher-paying competitor. This could become a key issue for companies in similar industries and regions, such as Silicon Valley. Will there be a competition to see who has the highest median employee pay? What would the recruiting implications be?

Overall, employees will likely pay more attention to the CEO Pay Ratio’s median employee pay aspect than to the CEO pay itself: CEO pay has been published for many years and should not be a surprise to employees. In addition, company employees may perceive the Ratio as a rather abstract number and have only mild interest in cross-company comparisons.

C. Investors

 

Early assumptions had been that investors were relatively uninterested in CEO Pay Ratio outcomes. This is due to the assumption the Ratio does not reveal information about the operations and future investment potential of a given company. However, a recent Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) policy survey [2] indicates:

Only 16% of investors polled (primarily institutional investors) indicated they would not evaluate the CEO Pay Ratio as part of their investment evaluations.

The remaining investors indicated they would either:

Compare Ratios across companies and industries, or

Assess year-over-year changes in the Ratio for individual companies.

The key conclusion is that investors will look for Ratio differences across both companies and time, but any Ratio differences/changes in and of themselves will not likely be enough to change investment decisions. Such information will likely be considered in conjunction with other available information. At the same time, investors may inquire about what they perceive to be “high” Ratios and companies should be prepared for such inquiries.

 

Addressing Potential Issues

 

Most companies should be prepared to respond to questions related to the CEO Pay Ratio’s publication. Companies with what are perceived to be “low” ratios will get fewer inquiries, but should be prepared in any case. Responses to investor and media questions could be covered together, as we think they will be similar in nature.

Employee questions will be somewhat different, as they will be more focused on the median employee pay rather than the CEO Pay Ratio itself.

For example, companies may consider publishing multiple “supplemental” CEO Pay Ratios intended to provide context for media, investor and employee perceptions. For example, a significant number of relatively lower-paid, international, part-time, and/or seasonal employees would lower the median employee pay. Ratios will also likely vary significantly by industry: professional services firms with “high” median employee pay will generally have lower Ratios, and those with “low” median employee pay will have higher Ratios.

The supplemental calculations could take the form of Ratios based on:

  1. Domestic employees only—for companies with significant employment in international locations
  2. Salaried employees only—for companies with many lower-paid, non-salaried employees
  3. Full-time employees only—for companies who employ many part-time employees

We believe these additional calculations may provide beneficial insight into the CEO Pay Ratio for employees, investors, and the media. In each case, the supplemental calculations will result in a lower Ratio along with insight into the initial Ratio’s calculation.

Investor/media relation functions should develop talking points to respond to inquiries, especially if their company’s initial CEO Pay Ratio may be perceived as “high”. The likelihood of media inquiries and the need for talking points is less likely among those companies whose CEO Pay Ratio may be perceived as “low”. This is particularly true concerning the media, whose sole focus will be on “high” CEO Pay Ratios. Prepared talking points can also form the basis for responding to employee issues; there should be a sense of cohesion across all responses to the various interested parties.

A key issue will be whether a company should be proactive or reactive to employee questions. Again, the initial CEO Pay Ratio may hold the answer: it may be appropriate to be proactive for a Ratio which may be perceived as “high” and reactive for one that may be perceived as “low”. However, individual Company facts and circumstances should influence this decision.

 

Conclusions

 

In general, the publication of CEO Pay Ratios for the first time will be prominently noted by the business media. It remains to be seen whether it will have its “fifteen minutes of fame,” or if it will face lingering scrutiny. However, the CEO Pay Ratio will likely become another aspect of the ongoing societal debate around income inequality and wealth concentration, which is not easily resolved either in this country or around the world.

In any case, we believe companies should begin developing appropriate responses to likely CEO Pay Ratio questions from their employees, investors and the media. Companies are currently in a period when the Ratios are being calculated, and now is the time to begin planning for publication and its after-effects. Be like the Boy Scouts: Be Prepared!

______________________________________

Endnotes

1“Division of Corporation Finance Guidance on Calculation of Pay Ratio Disclosure.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. September 21, 2017.(go back)

2“Contextualizing CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure.” ISS Corporate Solutions Governance Insights. October 6, 2017.(go back)