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Apr 22, 2014

Getting your governance team the recognition it deserves

It's time again for nominations for the Corporate Governance Awards, which will be presented in November.

Corporate Secretary welcomes nominations in any of 12 categories. Our editorial team evaluates each nomination based on supporting materials sent in, selects a short list of nominees in each category and sends those companies' materials to our judges for discussion and final decisions.

Choose supporting materials that you think best tell your company's story, whether it's an executive summary outlining key governance enhancements, a narrative of accomplishments in areas such as ethics and compliance or CSR, or videos posted on your website for training or communications purposes. Last year, H&R Block described its governance overhaul (including a thorough review and revision of all key governance documents) and its efforts to have members of many departments scrutinize the revised documents to ensure no governance issues had been overlooked.

In putting together these materials, keep in mind the importance of context. In 2013 awards went to two companies few people would have viewed as models of corporate governance just a year or two earlier: Best Buy had triumphed over a series of tumultuous events that included the resignation of its founder and chairman, who then launched an activist bid to take the company private, while ACADEMI had worked hard to repair reputation damage caused by events beyond its control around services it provided to the US military in Iraq.

Everyone likes to win, but nominations also strengthen employees' sense of purpose and validate hard work that often goes unnoticed. H&R Block's award for small-cap corporate governance team of the year 'led to substantial recognition at all levels of the organization,' said secretary and chief ethics officer Scott Andreasen in a statement. 'Our CEO sent a company-wide congratulatory email highlighting our receipt of the award, and our board of directors expressed great pride in the achievement. Members of the governance profession often operate in the background, but we were thrilled the award for corporate governance team of the year helped to enhance the visibility and understanding of the important work our team does.'

For PepsiCo, which was honored last year for its overall governance, compliance and ethics program (large cap), 'having strong governance and compliance practices generally means not making headlines or being in the spotlight on these important issues. That's why external recognition from third parties is important,' noted Cynthia Nastanski, senior vice president of corporate law and governance at PepsiCo.

The time, energy and resources that personnel at all levels of the company invest in governance 'starts with the tone at the top of the company set by our board of directors and senior leaders, and it is [put into practice by] our corporate governance, compliance and legal teams around the world,' Nastanski said in a statement. 'The external recognition PepsiCo receives for its governance, compliance and ethics programs reinforces our internal efforts to build and sustain an ethical culture.'

She added that recognition for its long-time commitment to strong governance principles 'has been a tremendous source of pride for PepsiCo's employees, who want to work for a company that shares their values. It has also helped us to further enhance meaningful dialogue and trust with our external stakeholders, who care about these issues as much as we do.'

Isn't it time your governance team got the recognition it deserves for protecting your organization? Nominations for the Corporate Governance Awards 2014 are now open – click here to nominate yourself, your team, or even a colleague before July 18. See you at the party in November!

David Bogoslaw

Associate Editor and Online features producer for Corporate Secretary