The evolution of the company secretary’s role
This article first appeared in the European Business Review.
The role of the company secretary in supporting board effectiveness can sometimes be overlooked. They provide a valuable service as a repository of corporate knowledge, regulations and good governance. As a result, they are often indispensable in supporting the effectiveness of the board and particularly in supporting the chairman.
Today, the challenge of the pandemic – one of the biggest crises the world has faced in generations – necessitates that they step up and provide additional value and support to the board. To ensure the board remains effective company secretaries need to broaden their administration remit and become facilitators and enablers of critical board processes.
Company secretary’s four lines of sight
As enablers, company secretaries need to ensure boards continue to focus on having four lines of sight, and help enact effective processes to ensure that each perspective adds value:
- Oversight: Boards must have processes in place to ensure effective oversight and accountability.
- Insight: Effective boards understand the company, the financial engine and competitive edge of the organisation and the external business environment. This insight drives a more objective and enabling assessment of performance and strategy.
- Foresight: The ability to anticipate, to see what is coming and the future forces that will impact the competitiveness and sustainability of the business is critical to effective understanding of risk and development of strategy.
- Hindsight: Effective boards can bring significant company knowledge, the hindsight to remember previous initiatives and reflect on the good, bad and ugly learnings from the past.