The very nature of corporate governance is to protect the equity holders of a corporation and maximize the value of the equity holders for the benefit of the whole company. If the corporate governance is seen as hindering value creation, then it is clearly and demonstrably in the best interest of the corporation to change course and pursue a more aggressive agenda to increase shareholder value. Stakeholders must feel they have the right to be involved and participate in decision making at all levels of the corporation if they do not like what is being done. Otherwise, they will lose confidence in the corporate governance system and see it as nothing more than a cover up for corporate malfeasance.
A second case study that looks closely at the dynamics of stakeholder participation and corporate governance is the current furor concerning the release of secretly recorded audio recordings at the shareholder’s annual general meeting. While some shareholders believe the corporation did not go beyond the law in releasing these recordings, others believe the corporation did and is continuing to engage in questionable behavior to increase their stock price while shortening their holding period. Two days before the release of these recordings, the CEO of a company that is part of the Covering Letter X project stated that the shareholders of that company “acted” in a manner that was inappropriate and therefore the CEO needed to institute a disciplinary action or resign. The entire board later voted to remove him from the company’s board. This CEO, although a well-respected leader, exemplified the antithesis of good corporate governance.
Stakeholders cannot help shareholders and make them behave. They cannot be expected to be perfect angels. There will be bad situations and questionable decisions along the way, but corporate governance principles and expectations are not designed to deal with this. What managers and company leaders should do, however, is to make sure that they provide honest information so that any potential bad decisions are properly identified and addressed. When the shareholder passes a stakeholder initiative, that individual can claim that the company failed to live up to its commitment to increasing value, reducing risk, and maximizing shareholder wealth.
Does taking a Corporate Governance stakeholder survey or workbook for you in developing a goal of enhancing value? You should not feel that you need to take any more than you need to, nor should you feel compelled to do more than you want to. Your ultimate goal should be to maximize your ability to contribute value to the company by increasing your stakeholder’s ownership interest. If the company does not already have an effective shareholder relations program in place, then it is your responsibility to develop one.
Does taking a Corporate Governance stakeholder survey or workbook for you in developing a goal of improving corporate value take too long to complete? No, it does not take too long to complete. Most workbooks and reports contain multiple pages of interactive content including multiple charts, maps, graphs, case studies, and case studies with supporting details and references. Many also include additional interviews with executives and other key people. While you are doing this, you should also be making regular visits to the company’s website and attending company meetings and conferences.
Does taking a Corporate Governance stakeholder activity or study guide from the company I work for take too long to complete? No, it does not take too long to complete either. You should finish reading the entire workbook in a few months’ time, but you can complete the entire study guide in as little as a week with many of the Corporate Governance activities available at the online websites.
Does all of the above sound like you need to do more to enhance your stakeholder value proposition and performance? Yes, you should. Stakeholders need help to understand and appreciate what it means to be stakeholders. The best way to give them the help they need to get along with the corporate governance process, increase their ownership interest and improve their relationship with the company is to get started today!