This article follows a session on this topic held at the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) Annual Forum (AAF), 3-4 November 2022.
The session was moderated by Elysse Morgan, Business and Finance Reporter, ABC News.
- Sean Hughes, Commissioner, ASIC
- Melinda Cilento, Chief Executive, Committee for Economic Development of Australia
- Melinda Conrad, Non-Executive Director, Stockland Group, ASX Limited, Ampol Limited, Penten Technology and The Centre for Independent Studies
- Paul O’Sullivan, Chairman and Independent Non-Executive Director, Australia New Zealand Banking Group Limited; Chairman, Optus and Western Sydney Airport Company
- Corporate governance is not ‘set and forget’ – it must be an enduring priority for the boardroom. The panel discussed how boards are identifying and managing emerging issues – including legal, compliance, finance and digital risks.
- Two of the biggest issues boards are tackling include reporting sustainability-related risks and opportunities and grappling with cyber security.
- This session also considered issues for boards to consider as they govern through uncertain and volatile times.
Board governance through uncertainty
International developments impact financial stability here in Australia. To effectively manage legal, compliance and financial risks, boards need to identify and focus on emerging issues within their firms, and the financial services sector globally.
On the set of current global challenges, Melinda Cilento said, ‘From a board’s perspective – it’s about really thinking about the resilience of your business, of your supply chain, of your people. We are thinking deeply about the resilience of our organisations to weather what is ahead of us.’
On the composition of boards and board diversity, Commissioner Sean Hughes said, ‘it is all about quality and having the requisite skills, experiences, and perspectives – and in particular, challenging perspectives.’
Cyber security and protecting data
Cyber-crime, while not a new challenge, has become more advanced, more pervasive, and harder to detect. Companies are being increasingly challenged by their stakeholders to demonstrate best practice when it comes to cyber security.
Sustainable investing and other drivers of change
ASIC encourages active management of cyber-risk and has published a list of cyber-risk governance questions for company directors to consider.
To enable investors to make fully informed decisions, ASIC is focused on fostering continued improvement in the standard of climate change governance and disclosure practices by listed companies.
Markets worldwide are also grappling with the rise of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in responsible investment decision-making. ESG thinking is entering the mainstream and becoming part of the DNA of reporting, investment analysis, and corporate governance.
This panel considered how a company’s performance, overall governance, and social licence to operate are all inter-connected.
On the power of social media and if boards can afford to ignore community expectations, Melinda Conrad said, ‘Boards can’t afford to ignore what is happening on social media. The board’s role is to understand all the stakeholders. It’s our job to make sure we are listening.’
ASIC is Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services regulator.
Source: © Australian Securities & Investments Commission. Reproduced with permission.
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