Time to take that bow
In the thick of proxy season, with uncertainty looming about various matters, including support for say-on-pay plans, getting accolades for your corporate governance efforts may be the farthest thing from your mind.
Nevertheless, we are now accepting nominations for Corporate Secretary’s eighth annual Corporate Governance Awards. November 4, the date of the gala awards dinner, may seem far off but we all know how once the summer’s gone, the weeks fly by. And companies and their service providers can’t even wait until the end of the summer to submit their nominations: the deadline is July 30.
In fact, in view of colleagues’ summer vacation schedules, you can’t even afford to wait until July to pull together the necessary supporting materials, such as letters from appreciative board members and SRI investors, for example, because they may be traveling just when you need them most.
Now, in case you’re hesitant about nominating yourself for an award, let me put your mind at ease. This isn’t the Pulitzers, where a self-nomination by a New York Times foreign correspondent, for example, is considered bad form. Corporate secretaries and corporate governance teams in general dwell in the shadows all year long, working hard with little or no gratitude or fanfare for protecting their companies and safeguarding the interests of investors and other stakeholders. The Corporate Governance Awards are the one chance you get to take some credit where it’s due, so you shouldn’t feel uneasy about riding it for all it’s worth.
That includes daring to nominate your company in more than one category. If you think you have the best corporate governance team of the year because of the hurdles you overcame, or the best compliance and ethics program because of the challenges you were prepared for, why not nominate the person you feel is most responsible for those victories for governance professional of the year? And what about honoring an up and coming member of your governance team by nominating him or her in the rising star category?
Taking credit where it’s due is no less apt for repeat nominees, who may worry they’ll forever be wallflowers. Last year, Timothy Olson, head of a two-person governance team at NorthWestern Energy – with much more modest resources than other nominees – nabbed the small-cap proxy award after being passed over for two consecutive years.
This year we’re introducing a new award category for private company governance. In recognition of its growing membership from private firms, the Society for Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals created a private companies committee two years ago to explore some of the issues these members are confronting in order to be able to offer them helpful resources. Whether traditionally family-run businesses bringing in an outside CEO and professionalizing their governance processes or portfolio companies owned by private equity firms that are doing right by minority shareholders, private companies face many of the same challenges as public ones – and deserve some recognition as well.
Remember, these awards are also about sharing best practices with your peers so they can step up their own governance programs, so don’t be modest.
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