ESG Archive

Jan 01, 2009
It was the stuff of a general counsel’s nightmares. An employee was making unsubstantiated, serious allegations about company outsiders, and the outsiders were involved in a lawsuit with the company. What made the situation truly unsavory was that the action took place in the relatively untested world of informal, online communications. In this case, the cyber-battleground was a website known as ‘Patent troll blog’. Writing anonymously, attorney Richard Frenke...
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Mar 01, 2008
To borrow a phrase from the Bard of Avon, ‘Now is the winter of our discontent.’ That phrase was uttered at the very beginning of King Richard III by the title character himself. He goes on to lay out his detailed plans to the audience – plans involving murder, lies, seduction and the stealing of the throne of England itself. As Richard says, ‘I am determined to prove a villain.’ But that kind of planning and plotting is hardly useful to most...
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Feb 01, 2008
Early in my career, I was working at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I was being trained in to a new department by a fellow I will call Bob. Bob and I met with a physician who listened to Bob describe his work on a billing form. Apparently this was not their first discussion about this form. The form was intended to reduce billing fraud. I noticed the physician was starting to shake. His face was turning a very unnatural color of red. I wasn’t quite sure w...
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Feb 01, 2008
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) born out of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is set to depend more on non-US auditing firms and oversight structures in monitoring public companies. As far back as 2005, it had predicted international auditing standards would greatly improve. Under Rule 4012, the board gave itself room to ‘adjust its reliance’ on the inspections of foreign auditors as it gained confidence in the level of independence and rigor of those ...
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Feb 01, 2008
Would you measure your sales effectiveness by looking at whether or not you had a sales force in place and whether or not they were trained? Would you measure the effectiveness of your logistics by simply analyzing the design and operation of current processes? Would you measure the effectiveness of your manufacturing by inspecting the machines that created the products that you sell? Of course not. You measure effectiveness (really performance) by analyzing t...
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Jan 01, 2008
Last year, companies could still dismiss the idea of reporting about climate change and other more speculative environmental risks as something too insubstantial to bring to investors’ attention. This reporting season, the conversation has shifted dramatically. Not only are companies expected to address how their business affects the environment, but the best are committing to concrete action and reporting on these commitments publicly. American Electric Power (AE...
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Jan 01, 2007
As corporations across the United States and around the world are coming to terms with new compliance and governance realities, the role of executives in these fields has risen from being viewed as a necessary evil to among the top strategic positions. As many companies can attest, any failure, real or perceived, in compliance or regulatory matters has a serious effect on share price, morale and reputation. Sometimes, even something as minor as missing a rou...
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Dec 01, 2006
To the casual news observer, it may seem as if corporate executives have traded in their Rolex wristwatches for stainless-steel handcuffs. The parade of top-tier corporate leaders who are departing in the wake of scandal continues to grow in ever-increasing numbers. Many of these executives are obscure players, but some have achieved legendary, one-name status usually observed for rock stars (Lay and Skilling, for instance). And new players continue to be adde...
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Nov 01, 2006
It’s a difficult job but somebody has to do it. Ask any corporate secretary and they will tell you about longer work hours, greater responsibility and intense pressure. Regulatory compliance and corporate governance in general have grown in complexity immeasurably in the past few years. Filing and reporting requirements, and the legal responsibility that comes with them, have led to the corporate secretary role, and the roles of others involved in governance, becom...
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