PepsiCo and Nuance Communications win top honors at Corporate Governance Awards
PepsiCo and Nuance Communications yesterday were given two of the most prestigious honors at the 13th annual Corporate Governance Awards.
PepsiCo was awarded the governance team of the year (large cap) title, and Nuance Communications was named best governance team of the year (small to mid-cap). PepsiCo also won the prize for best ESG reporting.
The top individual awards went to American International Group’s (AIG) Rose Marie Glazer, who was named governance professional of the year (large cap), while Wendy Cassity of Nuance Communications was named governance professional of the year (small to mid-cap).
The winners were announced at a special virtual ceremony featuring online video introductions and acceptance speeches. The submissions for this year’s awards highlighted the excellent work governance, risk and compliance teams have done amid a pandemic and economic turmoil in areas ranging from shareholder engagement and virtual AGMs to entity management, ESG reporting, ethics, compliance and proxy statements.
A total of 37 different companies were short-listed for this year’s awards, which included three new categories. Of those, HP was awarded the inaugural best AGM prize, while Marsh & McLennan Companies took the gong for best global entity management and RBC was recognized for best governance by a cross-listed company.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise was a double winner, taking the award for best use of technology and the rising star award for the company’s Jon White.
The awards for best proxy statement of the year, which are separated by market cap, went to Nasdaq (large cap), Coeur Mining (mid-cap) – following its win in the small cap category last year – and At Home Group (small cap).
Visa won best compliance and ethics program (large cap), and Change Healthcare was awarded for best compliance and ethics program (small to mid-cap). The best shareholder engagement award went to Bank of America.
The lifetime achievement award went to Nasdaq’s Joan Conley. She has been Nasdaq’s only corporate secretary since the exchange’s founding, and during her tenure she has developed its corporate governance – including its proxy statement – and has maintained a passionate focus on ethics, compliance and integrity.
She began work with the NASD – now the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority – in 1982 as a management trainee before becoming director of human resources from 1986 to 1994 and then senior vice president and corporate secretary from 1994 to 2001. She became Nasdaq’s corporate secretary when it was founded as a separate company in 2001.
‘Joan's trusted counsel and expertise in this area has been a tremendous asset to Nasdaq throughout her storied tenure. She has the unique and special distinction of serving every Nasdaq CEO since the company’s inception and is responsible for creating many of the cherished parts of Nasdaq we all know today,’ said John Zecca, executive vice president and global chief legal and regulatory officer, in a statement announcing Conley’s retirement at the end of 2020.
The Corporate Secretary editorial team reviewed all the nominations submitted by the industry. Once the short lists were agreed, they and their supporting evidence were passed to the independent judging panel to select the winners. Judges recused themselves from categories as appropriate. This year’s judges were:
- Douglas Chia, president of Soundboard Governance and fellow at the Rutgers Center for Corporate Law and Governance
- Lucy Fato, executive vice president and general counsel of AIG
- Matthew Geekie, senior vice president, secretary and general counsel at Graybar
- Eileen Kamerick, board member at Associated BancCorp, Legg Mason Closed-End Mutual Funds, Hochschild Mining and AIG Funds
- Catherine Kilbane, retired senior vice president, secretary and general counsel of The Sherwin-Williams Company, lead director at The Andersons and a member of the Cleveland Clinic board
- Carol Strickland, director of Trireme Energy Holdings and a member of its nominating and remuneration committee
- Paul Washington, executive director of the Conference Board ESG Center.
More details about the winners and their paths to success – along with video interviews – will feature in the 2020 Corporate Secretary Yearbook, which will be released next month.