A new global voice in governance: these 'wise counselors' are a force for improving board standards and performance.

Author:Baldwin, Phillip
Position::ENDNOTE - Corporate Secretaries International Association

Ed. Note: In March 2010 the Corporate Secretaries International Association (CSIA) was formed. Its first initiative as a new federation of governance professionals worldwide was to issue a research report recommending 20 practical steps for boards to improve their companies' corporate governance (see accompanying box). Phillip Baldwin chaired the steering committee charged with setting up CSIA. He is the chief executive of the Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries. Full CSIA members include corporate secretary associations and institutes in Australia, Hong Kong, India, U.K./Ireland, Malaysia, Southern Africa, Zimbabwe, and Singapore, with affiliate members from the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand.

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE is undergoing much questioning given the serious governance failings that contributed to and sustained the financial crisis. In our roles on the front line in helping companies implement governance best practices, corporate secretaries are part of the solution.

That is why we have created Corporate Secretaries International Association (CSIA), a global professional organization that builds on the strengths of national associations that represent corporate secretaries. We believe that governance best practices must be at the core of all sound, ethical business decisions.

CSIA represents more than 70,000 governance professionals who can now express a single global voice in shaping corporate governance best practices based on their experiences, expertise, and insights. To make governance work, you need input from those who put into action corporate governance standards and programs.

Corporate secretaries are professionally trained people who put integrity and ethics--rather than short-term gain--at the center of business. One of the core elements of integrity is independence. A good corporate secretary should be the "wise counsel" of the chairman and nonexecutive directors, and a source of advice and support to the whole board in discharging the company's objective of producing sustainable performance in the interests of shareholders and the wider stakeholder community.

Our role is particularly important now for at the core of governance are people. Through CS1A we will pool our expertise and experience, and provide that to the global standards setters for corporate governance. Our objective is to ensure that these organizations, such as the OECD, have the best information and insights available to inform their...

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