CEO Memo — As we prepare to tackle 2022, here’s the 2021 lowdown

I thought I would take a few moments to recap the year that has almost been — because it has indeed been a big one here at Governance Institute! 

Notably, we have experienced some rapid, record membership growth this year, welcoming more than 700 new members.   

This is likely indicative of the demand for governance and risk management skills in another turbulent year when members have again been thrust into the spotlight and consulted by boards and executives for quick, expert answers.  

We are proud to have supported you, kept you informed and advocated for you during a second COVID-19 year. 

Influencing the policy and advocacy agenda 

As we grow, our advocacy, influence and voice strengthen. 

One of our core campaigns has been to ensure that temporary measures allowing electronic or hybrid AGMs and e-document execution and electronic communication with shareholders during the pandemic were made permanent options for organisations. Following eight submissions to government on this topic, in October we finally saw these measures proposed as law. We hope the legislation will pass before the end of the year as this would be a major step in the modernisation of business practices and helps bring the Corporations Act into the 21st century.   

In total we have lodged 24 submissions this year with regulators and government. Apart from advocating on AGMs, topics have ranged from APRA’s new remuneration standard to Australia’s Digital Strategy 2030 and advocating for a properly resourced Commonwealth Integrity Commission. Browse our full library of submissions here.  

Governance and risk in the news 

As you have probably seen throughout the year, we release regular thought leadership projects, reports and studies on topics that are at the core of our work at Governance Institute — and most on our member’s mindsWe put a strong emphasis on ensuring our content pieces are topicalrelevant, and practical which means they have also gained significant media coverage this year 

We launched the second annual Board and Executive Remuneration Report in partnership with Aon, which found CEO and manager salaries were not immune from the impact of the pandemic.  

Receiving an enormous 3,500 downloads, our Board Papers Guide — everything you need to know about creating crisp, clear updates for your board — certainly struck a chord. 

The Board Diversity Index, released in partnership with Watermark Search International, attracted national media coverage and the core finding that there had been a 60 per cent surge in the number of women on boards filled us with hope. However, much more still needs to be done on boosting cultural and skills diversity in our boardrooms. 

The third in our ‘future’ series was released in early November: The Future of the Board. Based on a survey of 550 senior executives and a high-level working group, the report outlines the challenges the board of 2025 is likely to face, what issues need to be on the radar now, and the skills and attributes board members will need to be effective.  

And most recently, we launched the sixth annual Ethics Index which showed after a five-year high last year, the nation’s ethical score has now tumbled. A survey of 1,000 people nationally, the Index makes for fascinating reading about COVID-19 management practices, the most — and least — ethical occupations, and the ethical challenges likely to dominate the next 12 months. 

A showcase of knowledge and expertise: Forums and events 

As well as record membership growth, we have also seen a phenomenal response to many of our events, with 3,600 delegates attending a Governance Institute event this year. 

Our National Conference which had been planned as a hybrid event for the first week of September had to — again — move to a fully virtual conference following the Sydney lockdown.  

But with an unprecedented 900 delegates attending, making it the biggest we have ever held in the 38 years it has been running, we knew we were in the middle of a historic year for Governance Institute and our members. 

And we are not quite done for the year with planning currently being finalised for a company secretaries mini forum on 14 December, a two-hour virtual event with three sessions and a panel of nine company secretaries. Find out more here and be sure to get it in the diary. 

Farewell to 2021 and let’s get ready to tackle 2022 

Governance and risk professionals have this year again risen to the challenges of a rapidly changing landscape. As we close out the year, workforces remain dispersed, we are placing an ever-greater reliance on technology while cybersecurity threats grow, and corruption issues are again in the headlines. 

But there is also strong — positive — movement on improving diversity and culture in our workplaces, climate change is finally front and centre and there is a growing recognition of the core nature of good governance for organisational success. 

There is a lot on the radar and we look forward to helping you tackle what is set to be a big year ahead.