PepsiCo and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) yesterday won two of the most prestigious honors at the 14th annual Corporate Governance Awards.
PepsiCo was awarded the governance team of the year (large cap) title for the second year running, while HPE was named best governance team of the year (small to mid-cap). PepsiCo also took home the prize for best ESG reporting (large cap), while HPE also won awards for best proxy statement (mid-cap) and best AGM.
The top individual awards this year went to Kate Brennan of Marsh McLennan, who was named governance professional of the year (large cap), and Derek Windham of HPE, who was named governance professional of the year (small to mid-cap).
The winners were announced at a special virtual ceremony featuring online video introductions and acceptance speeches.
The ongoing health crisis, political upheaval and economic uncertainty have created new challenges for companies, their boards of directors and their governance teams, and the submissions for this year’s awards highlight the lengths to which many across the community have gone to navigate these challenges and keep the machinery of governance running.
The awards recognize achievements by governance professionals in areas such as hosting AGMs, compliance and ethics programs, ESG reporting, entity management, proxy statements, engagement and – for the first time this year – corporate transactions.
A total of 45 different companies were short-listed for this year’s awards. Among those, Ingersoll Rand won for best compliance and ethics program (large cap) while United States Steel Corporation was named as having the best compliance and ethics program (small to mid-cap).
Huntington Bancshares won the inaugural best governance around a corporate transaction prize, Chevron Corporation was awarded the best global entity management prize and Bank of America was recognized with the best shareholder engagement award.
Cognizant was named as having the best proxy statement (large cap), while Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings was honored in the best proxy statement (small cap) category. Hannon Armstrong took the best ESG reporting (small to mid-cap) title and Benchmark Electronics received the award for best use of technology.
Justine Bensussen of Nuance Communications was named this year’s rising star, while Holly Gregory of Sidley Austin was the recipient of this year’s lifetime achievement award.
The Corporate Secretary editorial team reviewed all the nominations submitted by the industry. Once the short lists were agreed, they and their supporting evidence were passed to an independent judging panel to select the winners. Judges recused themselves from categories as appropriate.
This year’s judges were:
- Anna Catalano, member of the boards of Willis Towers Watson, Kraton Corporation, HollyFrontier Corporation, Frontdoor and Appvion
- Joan Conley, senior adviser on corporate governance and ESG programs, Nasdaq
- Lucy Fato, executive vice president, general counsel and global head of communications and government affairs, American International Group
- Matthew Geekie, senior vice president, secretary and general counsel, Graybar
- Eileen Kamerick, non-executive director, ACV Auctions, Legg Mason Closed End Funds, AIG Funds, Associated Banc-Corp and Hochschild Mining.