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Jul 22, 2014

Where are past corporate governance award winners now?

Intel has expanded its CSR disclosure efforts to elicit employees' ideas while Microsoft has enhanced its corporate ciizenship program with internal carbon reduction efforts

Far from being a flash in the pan, a Corporate Governance Award often inspires a winning company to continue to improve its governance practices and expand their application. Take Intel, for example. In 2010, assistant secretary and then-senior counsel Irving Gomez received our rising star award in part for his contributions to improving Intel’s proxy statements and extending risk analysis to Intel’s compensation programs. Gomez has since been promoted to managing counsel in the company’s corporate legal group, while continuing to serve as assistant secretary. In 2011, Intel won an award for the most innovative CSR disclosure policy for increased transparency regarding its water footprint and carbon reporting, including supply chain and product impact, and for providing more insight into the ties between CSR and the company’s global business strategy.

Intel’s website now features a blog called CSR@Intel, which provides a forum for employees to exchange ideas with Intel’s CSR leadership team. The aim is to provide greater transparency and better insight into the company’s CSR strategy and to provide a forum for discussing ways to address key opportunities and challenges in reporting, indicators and sustainability, strategic philanthropy, environment, energy, supply chain management, employee health & safety and diversity. Recent posts to the blog have focused on Intel’s commitment to expanding girls’ access to education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as a means of rising out of poverty in the US, and on how maker-ready sensors such as those Intel produces can have a dramatic impact on tough global development challenges by enabling monitoring and tracking of air pollution and water quality and measuring the effectiveness of water pumps, power lines and other kinds of infrastructure.

Three years ago, Microsoft won our award for best overall governance, compliance and ethics by a large-cap company, partly in recognition of its transparency efforts. These included a relaunch of its investor relations website that offered more governance and corporate citizenship content and was easier to use. Since then the company has taken corporate citizenship up a notch by initiating an internal carbon fee for its business groups’ electricity use and business air travel as part of a strategy to achieve net-zero emissions in its data centers, software development labs, offices and employee air travel.

Microsoft put funds raised from its internal carbon offset fee over the first year toward 15 resource conservation and renewable energy projects throughout the world, including Brazil, India, Kenya, China and the US.

When he was interviewed by Corporate Secretary a year after winning his award, Gomez said his biggest challenge was trying to live up to the expectations people had of him because of the award. ‘I take my cue from past award winners and I see they are constantly trying to do better, not only for their companies, but also for the corporate governance area in general,’ he said.

With the deadline for this year’s Corporate Governance Award nominations approaching fast, now’s the time to take a careful look at your governance team and give it the recognition it is due for working tirelessly in the shadows to protect and strengthen your company.

David Bogoslaw

Associate Editor and Online features producer for Corporate Secretary