Q&A with Governance Institute
How do companies provide reports to the board from board committees? Do they provide written reports or are they just verbal?
Board committees are an efficient and effective mechanism for bringing transparency, focus and independent judgement to issues facing boards. It is good practice for board committees to provide regular reports to the board on their activities.
Practices relating to committee reporting to the board differ and are usually driven by the timing of board and committee meetings. Where committee meetings take place on the same day as the board meeting, boards typically receive a verbal update from the committee chair and a short cover paper for each committee may also be included in the board pack. The verbal committee reports are captured in the board minutes. Other companies prefer to hold committee meetings in the week prior to the board meeting to limit verbal updates at the board meeting.
When planning annual board and committee meeting dates it is important to factor in committee reporting to the board.
For further information see Good Governance Guide: Board committees reporting to the board.
How do boards acknowledge traditional owners when directors are resident in a number of countries?
Given many boards now meet using technology and have directors resident in a number of countries, there are a range of practices relating to an Acknowledgement of Country of traditional owners. Some companies minute an Acknowledgement of Country of the traditional owners of the land in all the locations in which directors are resident. Other companies rotate the Acknowledgement of Country between the different locations in which directors reside. Other companies minute an Acknowledgement of Country of the traditional owners of the land where the chair is located. There are no set protocols, but you can find further information here.
How are companies assessing board skills in relation to climate change competencies?
Many companies are now considering board skills in relation to climate. Does this mean climate scientists are required as board members or is it sufficient for (non-scientist) directors to have the capability to assess the risks of climate impact? Depending on the sector in which they operate companies are approaching this issue in a variety of ways. Some companies have been increasing director training on climate issues. Given the breadth of the topic, the skills needed and the training required are likely to differ depending on the industry. For some companies, the preference is not to recruit a climate expert as a director because the area is so dynamic. Many companies are using climate experts as consultants because their expertise can often have quite a narrow focus. Investors are also increasingly interested in engaging with the chairs of environment and sustainability committees.
For further information see Guide for boards and management on the path to net zero.