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The Conference Board Blogs

Sep
26
2016

It’s Commonsense to Have U.S. Corporate Governance Code

By Gary Larkin, Research Associate, The Conference Board Governance Center

Over the summer, one of the most interesting pieces of corporate governance literature was the Commonsense Corporate Governance Principles.

The publication was the result of meetings between a group of leading executives of public companies, asset managers, a public pension fund, and a shareholder activist.  The principles themselves may not have broken new ground – they addressed such basic issues as director independence, board refreshment and diversity, the need for earnings guidance, and shareholder engagement.  But the fact that such a publication was released at a time when some in Congress to roll back Dodd-Frank corporate-governance-related regulations is impressive.

It’s impressive because of who was in the meetings. It’s impressive because the meetings took place without any government or third-party instigation.  It’s impressive because it might be the beginning of a new strategy for overseeing corporate governance in the United States. It shows that sometimes industry can lead by example without rules and regulations to tell them how to govern their own companies and boards.

Maybe these principles could be the start of the first true US corporate governance code, something that our brethren in the UK have had for years. Even smaller markets such as South Africa and Singapore have codes that are used to guide corporate governance. Read the rest of this entry »