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Aug 18, 2013

Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries honors 8 with inaugural governance awards

BCE, TELUS, BMO among the award winners as CSCS' annual governance conference begins

The Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries kicked off its 15th annual corporate governance conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia by bestowing its first Excellence in Governance awards at a festive gala dinner on Sunday night, August 18.

The Canadian Coalition for Good Governance (CCGG) launched the evening’s events with a presentation its Gavel Awards to BCE and TELUS Corp.

David Beatty, professor of strategy and governance at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, created a lively, pun-filled atmosphere as master of ceremonies for the CSCS awards that followed. 

A shortlist of nominees was winnowed down from 76 initial candidates and winners were chosen by a jury panel composed of governance experts from across Canada, including Gigi Dawe of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA),  Stephen Griggs of Smoothwater Capital Corporation,  Carol Hansell of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP,  Sylvia Groves of Governance Studio,  Dr. Richard Leblanc of York University, Andrew MacDougall ofSpencer Stuart,  Paul Schneider of Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Elizabeth Watson of Watson Inc. and  Brendan Sheehan of The Illawong Group.

Receiving the award for best sustainability, ethics and environmental governance programs was TELUS Corp. in recognition of its implementation of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building standards, its program to recycle smart phones and over half a million hours of community service provided by its employees, as well as its creation of a Chief Sustainability Officer position in 2012. Honorable mention went to Port Metro Vancouver for having taken the rare step to directly link executive pay to ESG performance and its efforts to manage carbon emissions.

The award for best overall corporate governance went to  BCE  for its policy concerning interlocking directors, with an honorable mention bestowed on MTS Allstream for a ‘well-articulated disclosure strategy that goes far beyond boilerplate disclosures.’

The winner of the award for best approach to board and committee support was Tarion Warranty Corp., which was cited in part for its board and CEO evaluations and director education program. An honorable mention went to Mountain Equipment Co-op for its efforts to educate people with little knowledge of corporate processes.

The award for best use of technology in governance, compliance and risk management went to BMO Financial Group for implementing legal, ethics and compliance training for its entire employee base, including at hundreds of subsidiaries.

The award for best practice in managing boardroom diversity went to Shoppers Drug Mart for being open to appointing first-time directors and for naming women to chair three board committees.

Canada Council for the Arts received the best shareholder or stakeholder engagement award for its efforts to seek and use input from a broad base of stakeholders.

In addition to the six awards recognizing  achievements by companies or organizations, two awards specifically acknowledged longer-term contributions by individuals. Joan M. Wilson, a director and former treasurer of CSCS from 2001 to 2010,received the Joyce Borden-Reed distinguished contribution award by unanimous decision among the eight judges, in recognition of her efforts to advance the Society’s place in Canada’s governance community and for her early contribution to the Society’s professional development program.

The Peter Dey governance achievement award went to Anna Tudela, corporate secretary and vice president of regulatory affairs at Goldcorp, in part for developing a company-wide training, development and mentorship program called Creating Choices for women employees last year.

Before Tudela’s award was announced, Dey himself received a standing ovation. Dey, chairman of Paradigm Capital, is regarded as the godfather of Canadian governance for founding the Dey Report in 1994, whose 14 guidelines laid the framework for corporate governance in Canada

‘Corporate governance is a lot of common sense and what we did was try to capture all the common sense that corporate secretaries use,’ said Dey. Adding that ‘governance is organic and evolving,’ he said he would share thoughts on where governance needs to go in the future as part of his opening keynote address on August 19.

‘I have huge respect for the role that the corporate secretary plays in our corporate governance system,’ he said. He also praised CSCS for its efforts to recognize that role and for providing a forum for corporate secretaries to meet and share ideas.

David Bogoslaw

Associate Editor and Online features producer for Corporate Secretary