As Company Secretaries, we are lucky to have very varied and wide-ranging roles. Whilst this means that our roles are interesting and no two days are the same, it can mean that extra responsibilities are added to the team without any consideration being given to resourcing. Company secretaries are often seen as enablers – after all if you want something done, best to ask a busy person, right?
However, there is only so much ‘extra’ responsibility that a team can take before something eventually slips. Unfortunately, due to the profile of the Company Secretary role, the importance of the item which slips is usually amplified due to the audience (the Board/Shareholders/Senior Management) or nature of it (legislative breach). It doesn’t matter how great or strong your team is though, if you are not aware of your team’s capacity, slippages will occur. We are only human after all.
Governance is decision making and decision making is the way things get done in an organisation. In short, an organisation’s health and longevity can be measured by its governance framework.
The framework has expanded to include policies for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Diversity equals representation, but without inclusion, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation, and lead to business growth will be lacking. Alongside diverse recruitment strategies, companies should do all they can to ensure there is an inclusive culture that respects all and gives everyone the ability to succeed. This starts with a top-down approach from the leadership team.
Another consideration for the year ahead is Environmental & Social Governance (ESG) There sharpened investor understanding of the unpredictability of risks that companies can face in any given year. These unexpected challenges have also highlighted how ESG preparedness has softened the blow for those organisations that were ahead of the curve on integrating sustainability risks into decision making and reporting on progress. Boards are placing ESG high on their agenda’s and are looking to their Company Secretariat to embed these policies into their Governance Frameworks. We can all expect this to included in our AGM planning.
Life of a Consultant – notes from an experienced Company Secretary
I had spent most of my working life working in-house secretariat departments for a variety of companies. One thing in common with all these companies is that there is the annual cycle of board and committee meetings, annual report production, AGM, the usual BAU and occasionally there may be a project or two to make life interesting.
The experience and knowledge I have gained in organisations is transferable no matter what the type of organisation. The principles of good corporate governance that are applied to a FTSE100 company can still apply to a charity or an SME.
Having joined Beyond Governance, I have found I am lucky to experience a variety of work with different clients and types of organisations. These are generally short engagements and so the variety of work changes regularly, but you also get to meet lots of different and interesting people and also different or recurring issues to resolve.
As a consultant there is no typical day.
The role is challenging but it is also very enjoyable, I work with an excellent team that is supportive and knowledgeable and above all else I am still learning.
At Beyond Governance, we all have different skill sets and we work with different clients so we can bounce ideas of each other and use our experience and knowledge of what good looks like when working with different clients.