The Evolving Role of the Corporate Secretary
There are three consistent factors involved throughout the operations of most boards of directors:
- Institutional investors necessitate increased engagement
- There’s a growing emphasis centered around corporate sustainability
- Boards are expected to have a firmer grasp on a broader scope of topics, such as:
- Human capital
- Company culture
The impact of these various aspects necessitates the need for a corporate secretary.
For the items in the above list, the corporate secretary must spend intensive time during meetings with stakeholders (both external and internal). Furthermore, they must manage internal emails while writing, editing, and reviewing external disclosures.
Keep in mind that these are additional responsibilities that have been piled onto a list of other tasks that are vital to a company’s operations. These duties include, but aren’t limited to, board committee meetings, SEC reporting, and legal entity management.
What’s more impressive is that many corporate secretaries do their jobs without an applicable infrastructure of resources. So, these employees are generally quite industrious and diligent.
Let’s take a closer look at this role:
An Influx of Responsibilities
Of the issues that boards need a firm hand on, cybersecurity definitely sheds light on the integral nature of a corporate secretary.
Cybersecurity was initially meant for corporate IT and security reviews. At most, these discussions would be brought forth once per year with an audit committee. In today’s landscape, the board must be honed into cybersecurity—given the growth of risk factors. As such, nowadays, the board must be privy to a steady stream of reports from the CISO.
Furthermore, many boards of directors have begun bringing on cyber experts as well as establishing cybersecurity committees.
Without the corporate secretary, directors can’t keep a firm grasp on these matters.
As such, corporate secretaries have access to an array of opportunities to engage with a growing list of sectors of an organization. This results in an influx of new responsibilities, which helps these individuals grow as leaders within an organization.
Bringing New Directors Onboard
Per the Harvard Business Review, 32% of executives are unimpressed with their onboarding experience. Poor onboarding leads to higher turnover with executives, which can cost a company up to 213% of a parting executive’s salary.
Boards can’t afford to allow their directors to have a bad onboarding experience. New directors aren’t going to turn up 100% prepared and rearing to go right off the bat.
Getting new directors up to snuff requires considerable effort—specifically if it’s their first time on a board. Instead, on top of legal duties and liabilities, fresh members must grasp the gravity of their increased expectations and responsibilities.
Ensuring that the above issues are handled promptly and efficiently falls into the hands of the corporate secretary. They’ll help with providing additional educational opportunities, for instance.
The Role of Corporate Secretaries will Keep Flourishing in the Boardroom
Despite the existence of their SEC disclosure and subsidiary management responsibilities, corporate secretaries are primarily focused on board work in today’s climate.
Experts predict that the role will continue to center around the boardroom. When something matters to the CEO, it becomes a top priority of the corporate secretary. And anything board-related concerns the CEO.So, it’s no surprise that corporate secretaries are becoming an increasingly valuable asset in any boardroom.