An article in today’s Australia Financial Review reports that the Australian Council of Trade Unions backs concerns being expressed by superannuation funds (Australia’s retirement investment funds) about corporate governance standards. (No surprises for guessing the context of this conversation. The article is ‘Scandal highlights governance worries’, by Patrick Durkin and Mark Skulley. I can’t provide a hyperlink because the Australian Financial Review operates a firewall for all its content.)
There are, as ever, two approaches for companies and their corporate governance. Take the initiative and engage actively with shareholders, fund managers, employees, partners and other constituents. Or, don’t engage, keep details and context hidden from those who increasingly influence your future and your ability to control your own destiny. Hope they don’t rise up against you, or worse, come after you with the regulator in tow.
In the context of a broad definition of public relations, surely this public group is as important as any? And surely chief financial officers can conclude that the hard costs of investing in professionals to manage this engagement in the positive, active sense can be justified as providing greater benefit and return on the investment than the alternative?
There are, of course, ethical and reputation considerations, less tangible benefits that are more qualitative in their measurement, and positive market differentiation that also flow from this choice.
I know I’m biased, but the decision seems obvious to me, and should rapidly become one of selecting the professionals rather than questioning whether the public should be engaged with intelligently, authentically, and without cynicism.