Front-runners in good corporate governance
By Chelsey Keith P. Ignacio, Special Features and Content Senior Writer
Instituting good corporate governance, which concerns practices to manage an organization and relations with its stakeholders, is valuable in establishing a company’s trust and reputation. Organizations with exemplary corporate governance were honored in the 2023 ACGS and CGS Golden Arrow Recognition, carried out by the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) at Okada Manila Hotel in Pasay City last Sept. 28.
Golden Arrow is awarded to publicly listed companies (PLCs) in the country with good corporate governance performance based on the 2022 ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard (ACGS) as well as to insurance firms based on Corporate Governance Scorecard (CGS) Assessment Results.
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Companies garnering at least 80 points in these assessments would receive recognition. A 5-arrow recognition would be given to companies that achieved a score of 120 to 130 points; a 4-arrow recognition for those with 110 to 119 points; a 3-arrow recognition for 100 to 109 points; a 2-arrow recognition for 90 to 99 points; and a 1-arrow recognition for companies that reached 80 to 89 points.
With the ACGS and CGS assessments, a firm’s corporate governance is examined on enabling the rights and equitable treatment of shareholders; its relation to various stakeholders; ensuring transparency and accountability by disclosing material information at the right time; as well as the board’s guidance to the company, supervision of the management, and accountability to shareholders and the firm.
Weight allocated to each area of the ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard for the Golden Arrow Awards
By looking at the country’s publicly listed companies and insurance companies through these areas, it seeks to improve corporate governance standards and practices in the Philippines and draw investors toward well-governed organizations.
The value of good governance
Such a Golden Arrow recognition from ICD could further give corroboration for these companies’ reputation and their governance.
InLife Executive Chair Nina D. Aguas — Photo from facebook.com/ICDPh
“The award is an affirmation of our good reputation and the quality of our engagement with our various stakeholders,” Insular Life (InLife) Executive Chair Nina D. Aguas told BusinessWorld.
“Since 2018, InLife has received consistent recognition from the ICD, a testament to our unwavering commitment to corporate governance principles and practices. These accolades not only bolster our reputation as a reliable institution but also foster trust among our stakeholders,” she expressed.
InLife Executive Chair Nina D. Aguas (third from left) receives InLife’s 4-Golden Arrow Award for good corporate governance during the ASEAN ACGS and CGS Golden Arrow Recognition Ceremony by the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD). With her are (from left) ICD Chairman Atty. Cesar A. Villanueva, ICD Vice-Chair and President Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia, and Deputy Insurance Commissioner Ferdinand George A. Florendo. — Photo from facebook.com/ICDPh
InLife is one of the two insurance companies that recieved a 4-Golden Arrow Award in this year’s recognition.
With the company garnering such regard, Ms. Aguas said that it boosted InLife employees’ and agents’ motivation to do their work and “take pride” in belonging to the recognized organization.
“This newfound sense of value in their work results in a higher quality of performance both within and outside the workplace,” she said.
But aside from establishing a reputation upheld by the Golden Arrow award, ensuring good governance itself could already have an impact on the organization’s performance.
“Our dedication to strong corporate governance not only enhances stakeholder confidence but also contributes to our financial performance and long-term sustainability,” said Ms. Aguas.
Given such contributions to a company, it can be valuable to commit to promoting upright corporate governance. And commitment to good governance is significant for InLife’s competitiveness in the insurance industry, said Ms. Aguas.
“Good corporate governance for InLife represents the bedrock of our commitment. It is not just about compliance; it is a way of life. It encompasses the principles of transparency, accountability, and ethical behavior. At its core, it’s about fostering a culture where trust is paramount,” she said.
Various practices are established and implemented to ensure good governance within an organization. But while a large part of this seemingly depends on the leadership, its implementation would also hinge on employees’ support.
At InLife, the board of trustees and senior management are playing a crucial role in setting the tone for the company, said Ms. Aguas. The executive chair also gives credit to InLife employees who observe the firm’s policies and procedures, as well as InLife’s agency force members for their support to driving the business.
“Most importantly, our policyholders are at the core of all our efforts. We continually adapt and innovate to better serve them, reinforcing our commitment, nurturing long-term relationships, and building their trust,” she added.
Ms. Aguas also said that equality, diversity, and inclusion are promoted in InLife, as well as highlighting the company’s furthering adoption of ESG (environmental, social, governance) sustainability.
“We firmly believe that corporations that act responsibly will continually garner the trust and confidence of customers, stakeholders, and the public, thus underpinning the business’ sustainability,” she said.
Also stating its commitment to promoting exemplary corporate governance, Cebu Landmasters, Inc. (CLI), the leading developer in VisMin which received a 2-Golden Arrow Recognition this year, shared several efforts it has undertaken to substantiate such a commitment.
Cebu Landmasters’ Corporate Governance Team, composed of Chief Finance Officer Grant Cheng, First Vice-President for Legal & Strategic Landbanking Atty. Larri-Nil Veloso, and Legal Counsel and Compliance Officer Atty. John Edmar Garde, received the developer’s 2-Golden Arrow Recognition given by the ICD. — Photo from facebook.com/ICDPh
“Cebu Landmasters, Inc. has always approached corporate governance as an integral component and a cornerstone program in doing business. It is viewed and considered in CLI as an organizational responsibility and commitment, hence, the established corporate governance principles and programs are embedded in the core and fabric of the CLI Way,” Atty. John Edmar Garde, legal counsel & compliance officer of CLI, told BusinessWorld.
While CLI’s board of directors institute and oversee the implementation of corporate governance practices and initiatives, the organization also established its Corporate Governance Committee to provide assistance to the board. The management team, meanwhile, also supported the board and the committee for the implementation through collaborative efforts with the departments, offices, and employees.
Among the efforts made by CLI concerning its corporate governance is to improve its reporting and disclosures, such as through its Integrated Annual Corporate Governance Reports (I-ACGRs).
“The improvement of the disclosures in CLI’s I-ACGRs was cited by ICD as among the key factors in the improved corporate governance rating of CLI over the past couple of years, culminating in the conferment of the organization’s first-ever Golden Arrows,” Atty. Garde shared.
The property developer has also sought to enhance corporate governance by putting in place policies and programs including its Whistle-Blowing Policy, updated Executive Committee Charter and Limits of Authority, updated Handbook on Employee Discipline, and Code of Business Conduct and Ethical Standards, among many others.
And to maintain an effective performance among those in leadership, CLI also conducts annual performance evaluation and assessment on the board, individual directors, board committees, and the management team.
Meanwhile, to ensure transparency and accountability, the developer assured public and timely disclosure of all material information that could affect the viability or interests of its stakeholders.
Possessing knowledge of the best practices and learning from experts could also help organizations in improving their corporate governance.
“It is also important that organizations have a keen interest and understanding of the recommended best practices and principles in corporate governance. As the saying goes, ‘Gaining knowledge is the first step to wisdom,’” Atty. Garde shared.
“The best practices established and publicly disclosed by other PLCs can also serve as [a] guide, as well as collaboration and learning from esteemed practitioners in corporate governance, which includes — among others — the ICD, are very helpful tools as the organization progresses in its corporate governance journey,” he added.
The Golden Arrow recognition also inspires SM Investments Corp. (SMIC), which received a 4-Golden Arrow recognition, to excel in corporate governance.
From L-R: ICD Chairman Atty. Cesar L. Villanueva; SM Investments Corp. Chairman of the Board Amando M. Tetangco, Jr.; ICD Vice-Chair & President Ma. Aurora D. Geotina-Garcia; and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairperson Atty. Emilio B. Aquino. — Photo from facebook.com/ICDPh
“This honor inspires us to continue advocating best practices in corporate governance in serving our stakeholders and communities,” said SMIC Chairman of the Board Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. was quoted as saying in a statement.
Photos from facebook.com/ICDPh
Alongside SMIC, several companies from the SM Group were also accorded Golden Arrow recognitions. These are: 2GO Group, Inc., APC Group, Inc., Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., China Banking Corp., BDO Unibank, Inc., Belle Corp., Pacific Online Systems Corp., Premium Leisure Corp., and SM Prime Holdings, Inc.