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Jan 28, 2019

Integrating tech into HP’s governance work

Why the team won the Corporate Governance Award for best use of technology

Integration has been a core theme over the past year for HP’s corporate securities international (CSI) team, which has been involved with the integration of Samsung’s printer business and has combined the separate US and non-US CSI units into a single team to tackle global governance and legal needs. The team reports to Katie Colendich, assistant general counsel, and Ruairidh Ross, deputy general counsel and assistant corporate secretary.

In praising HP’s use of technology to support its governance work, one of our judges noted that it is integrated into everything the team does. That starts with efforts to improve shareholders’ interactions with the company via the AGM. The CSI team in 2017 created an interactive annual meeting website, while switching the format from a video broadcast to an audio-only format.

AGMs without an in-person component have faced criticism that they may curb shareholder engagement. But forward-thinking companies have looked to add features to calm such fears. HP hosts a pre-AGM forum where investors can submit questions, and the company posts responses online after the event, even if the questioner doesn’t attend.

HP continued with the audio-only approach in 2018 but introduced technology support that allows shareholders to join the meeting via phone and make presentations of their proposals. According to the CSI team, time was allowed for more questions – those made both before and during the AGM – to be answered during the meeting. HP also posts the AGM recording and written Q&As publicly for investors and non-investors.

At the same time, the CSI team has expanded the use of technology in areas such as board work, including using online questionnaire tools for directors and officers, Accounting Standard 18 and self-evaluation surveys.

Other recent examples include the team:

  • Starting to use a project management tool to manage
  • timelines and work around preparing the proxy statement and AGM
  • Examining its policy on how directors are allocated and make use of devices
  • Advising directors on cyber-security best practices  Reviewing the platforms board members use and adjusting their security preferences, such as thetime-sensitive automatic logout of their accounts
  • Launching a request-for-proposal process for the board portal tool HP uses. The review, and any potential change in the tool used, is based around issues such as the cyber-security profile of the vendor and directors’ user experience
  • Using a tool to help develop a new shareholder engagement strategy based on HP’s governance efforts. This had previously been used solely by the firm’s investor relations team or for the CSI team’s limited benchmarking purposes. It has now been used to identify key governance personnel at HP’s institutional investor shareholders, enabling the CSI team to get in touch directly rather than have those relationships operate principally via analyst teams.

All in all, technology is at the heart of what the CSI team does, and it is constantly evolving.

This article originally appeared in the latest Corporate Secretary special report. Click here to view the full publication.