Empowering the stakeholder

Mar 16, 2016
<p>Best overall corporate governance -- international: Westpac Banking Corporation</p>

The judges liked Westpac’s efforts in maintaining an intranet site to better serve internal stakeholders and its project that enables stakeholders to use the corporate registry and records management software on a self-serve basis. They also noted the compliance, legal and secretariat group’s governance benchmarking tours to the UK and the US to strengthen relationships with governance leaders at peer companies and report to its board about where Westpac stands on best practices.

Tim Hartin, group company secretary and chief operating officer of Westpac’s compliance, legal and secretariat division, engaged the whole team in the process of redesigning Westpac’s Secretariat Online website to be more customer service-centered. ‘I knew what the desired outcome was from an organizational point of view, but I also wanted the team to have it as part of a developmental exercise,’ Hartin says.

That started by communicating with the technology division to better understand what was feasible on the company’s platforms. The revised website adopted a simple user design based on nine panels covering key areas for which the division is responsible, including assisting the board and board committees, records management and training. Two key aspects drove the simplified user design: improving the secretariat’s productivity and making it easier to transfer knowledge across the organization thus ‘making it easier for our business partners to do business with us,’ Hartin says.

The new website enables Westpac to streamline preparation of board materials and ensure consistency of frameworks and how people look at governance within the group, Hartin explains. The nine-panel structure lets his team monitor use across each of those categories, which has helped identify where further training would be beneficial and whether the team’s resources are being deployed most effectively.

That’s led to the introduction of online video tutorials that give people around-the-clock access to training materials and the ability to consult them multiple times as needed without an employee having to repeatedly present the same seminar.

To enhance its governance frameworks and meet directors’ demands and regulators’ expectations, Westpac sent senior members of its compliance, legal and secretariat team to the UK and the US in 2013 and 2014, respectively. ‘We felt it was important to review and align our operating models with emerging global best practices,’ Hartin says. ‘Sharing knowledge with peers is a win-win exercise: you do it in a non-competitive environment [that] allows you to take a fresh look at possible blind spots in your own business or different approaches you can tailor to best meet the needs of your organization.’

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