Future Students, Alumni & Visitors

What are some best governance practices of award-winning companies?


Photo tweeted by @tyfrancis

Photo tweeted by @tyfrancis

I recently served on a governance awards judging panel assembled by the Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries (CSCS). Winners of the awards were announced at this organization’s annual conference in Halifax last month. I participated in a plenary discussion to discuss some of the winning practices, and governance generally.

Here are the six award-winning companies, the categories under which they won, and their governance practices and results that they have that are, in my view, exemplary, in no particular order:

Shoppers Drug Mart – Best practices in managing boardroom diversity

  • Five out of eleven Directors are female, with two of three women Committee Chairs;
  • Continuous review of a robust director competency matrix, including focusing on board dynamics and decision-making;
  • Detailed director recruiting using precise director profile output resulting from the competency matrix assessment;
  • Board does not require CEO experience, and Board recruits and appoints first-time Directors;
  • Prospective Directors includes individuals not previously known to incumbent Directors;
  • Rigorous director interviews, including assessing capacity for constructive challenge, and comprehensive, tailored onboarding process; and
  • Limits on board tenure, over-boarding and interlocks.

Bank of Montreal – Best use of technology in governance, risk and compliance

  • Board portal with encrypted materials on a secure intranet site, secure email, user friendly interface, paperless iPad, and separate Director education iPad App;
  • Global entity records and management systems, with searchability, real time accuracy and updates, customization, validation, aggregation, and comprehensive, enterprise-wide compliance monitoring and reporting;
  • Investor relations alerts, conference calls and audio webcasts;
  • Ethics, legal and compliance: interactive, tailored, training annually for select employees, and suppliers, with user guide and follow-up;
  • Specialized regulatory training for senior management, all other employees, to educate, train, strengthen risk culture, using internal website, mandatory readings and eLearning;
  • Online governance and director assessment by the Board;

BCE – Best overall governance

  • Individual annual director elections, majority voting, independent Chair, advisory vote on executive compensation, and director interlock and tenure guidelines;
  • Internal audit and Risk Manager Officer report directly to Audit Committee Chair;
  • Electronic voting at annual shareholder meetings;
  • Comprehensive ethics program, focus on audit independence, and whistle-blowing policy;
  • Full written governance mandates, board leader position descriptions, education, orientation, and comprehensive board evaluation process and governance disclosure;
  • Focus on director competencies, geography and performance;

Tarion Warranty Corporation – Best approach to board and committee support

  • Annual work plan, consent agendas, skills matrix, terms of reference, position descriptions, and board portal;
  • Third party governance review, including peer to peer review of Directors;
  • Term limits for Board Chair and Directors, and guideline limits for Committee Chairs;
  • Six Directors with board certification;
  • Balanced score card and key performance indicators (KPIs) for company and CEO performance;
  • KPIs presented to Board at each meeting in dashboard format, and reviewed in depth by Audit Committee;
  • Stakeholder relations department to enhance focus on stakeholder satisfaction, engagement and communication;

Canada Council for the Arts – Best shareholder / stakeholder engagement

  • Highly consultative culture and stakeholder engagement, exemplary annual reporting, rotating meetings geographically;
  • Strategic engagement (financial and non-financial), outreach, dialogue, surveys, consultation sessions and workgroups, with comprehensive, exemplary written shareholder and other stakeholder reporting, follow-up, and use of social media;
  • Direct Board contact with artists, arts community, partners, leaders and other stakeholders;
  • Directors as ambassadors at stakeholder outreach events, nationally and internationally;

TELUS Corporation – Best sustainability, ethics and environmental governance program

  • Board and Committee leadership to monitor corporate social responsibility (CSR), including environmental policies, enterprise energy strategy, ethics policy, whistleblower policy;
  • Employee, environment and community engagement, culture and performance (numerous examples and leadership);
  • Governance Reporting Initiative reporting on CSR performance since 2000, third party reporting verification, stakeholder solicitation, and CSR reporting recognition;
  • Environment management system since mid-1990s, carbon footprint reporting early adopter, and alignment goal of ISO 14001:2004 compliant by 2014;
  • CSR metrics integrated into strategic planning, and CEO and other executive performance objectives; and
  • Supplier code of conduct in 2011 for business partner adherence.

It was an honor to serve on this judging panel and the above Canadian companies should be celebrated – as well as their Directors – for setting the ever-rising bar for effective corporate governance.

Save and Share
  • Print
  • PDF
  • email
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • RSS

Comments are closed.