The corporate secretary role is changing as corporate governance standards and rules become ever more demanding and rigorous. The role is more visible and more relevant today, as a catalyst for good corporate governance practice in the boardroom and across the organization. Corporate secretaries have evolved from mere functionaries who handle compliance and administrative tasks to assuming a strategic and deliberative position within the organization—that of governance advisor. The modern corporate secretary is expected to provide professional guidance to boards, directors, and management on key decisions relating to the organization's corporate governance standards and practices.
Governance is about more than compliance with laws, regulations, standards, and codes; it is about creating cultures of good practice. To guide this effort, corporate secretaries must understand more about the kinds of corporate governance practices are needed in an organization and why—in addition to technical skills and experience.
The modern corporate secretary is expected to:
To carry out this role effectively, the corporate secretary needs to:
The combination of increased responsibility and growing significance of the corporate secretary role have created new demand for quality training and guidance. The need for support is particularly acute in emerging markets, where such resources are limited and the corporate secretary’s role is expanding rapidly as the focus on corporate governance increases.
IFC has partnered with the Corporate Secretaries International Association to develop practical training materials and guidance for corporate secretaries.
The Corporate Secretaries Toolkit (available only internally at this time) provides trainers with materials and instructions for conducting training for corporate secretaries. It is based on the IFC's publication Corporate Governance Board Leadership Training Resources, which also provides information and guidance for corporate secretaries.
Eligible participants include individuals who are not certified as corporate secretaries but who carry out some or all of the related duties in the corporate secretarial and compliance department.
East Asia and the Pacific: IFC conducted regional workshops and training of trainers in Indonesia and Singapore. The programs aimed to enhance corporate secretaries’ knowledge and build their skills to facilitate future delivery of training for active and potential corporate secretaries. Workshop sessions also gave participants insights into the role and the importance of the corporate secretary in influencing good corporate governance.
Eastern and Central Asia: IFC’s training events in the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine helped promote the development of the corporate secretary profession. The events emphasize the critical role of the corporate secretary within the organization and the importance of building skills and knowledge.
Middle East and North Africa: An event sponsored by IFC in Morocco highlighted the importance of corporate secretaries as catalysts for good governance and the understanding of the unique challenges of this role.
Overview: The Corporate Secretaries Toolkit
Ghita Alderman | Washington, DC