On the changing role of the company secretary

One of the key tasks in company secretary recruitment is finding innovative and progressive thinkers that understand the evolving role of the company secretary, and have the skillsets to reposition themselves in kind – even pivoting quickly at times, where the business environment rapidly changes.

A good example of this is the growing trend to remove “secretary” from the lexicon. “Secretary” implies a job that is administrative and clerical in nature, and where that once described much of the role of the company secretary, things have changed in the years since. The professional association for company secretaries in Australia, previously Chartered Secretaries Australia, rebranded itself to Governance Institute of Australia in 2013 to reflect this – the bulk of the company secretary role has been in transition over the past decade, and the impact of 2020 will be to accelerate that transition, rapidly.

No more company “secretaries”?

For just one example, a report found that 41 per cent of company secretaries have added digitalisation and automation to their areas of chief concern, as they have needed to aggressively push for overnight shifts towards e-signatures for approvals processes, and otherwise look at technology as a response to remote work and social distancing.

That same report found that 63 per cent of respondents believe that 2020 has been a catalyst for the role of Chief Governance Officer to become more strategic and influential within the company. These executives are playing an increasing role in assisting the business with finding new efficiencies in operation, and improving the culture and team dynamics within the operation. Increasingly the CGO’s role is company-wide, and company secretary recruitment needs to keep this in mind – it is a different skillset, and CGOs are being tasked with being more creative in thought than ever before.

Overall, 67 per cent of governance experts believe that the events of 2020 will change the way that governance is delivered. Whether this is to the benefit or detriment of the organisation depends on the skillset of the company secretary. One that can develop innovative approaches to governance will provide their companies with competitive differentiation, but it takes a particular skillset to achieve that.

This is why job titles matter. While you may well be looking for company secretary recruitment, the “secretary” should be a misnomer. You are going to be looking for a person with a very different set of skills than the role once involved. Greenfields Recruitment and Search has a long history in understanding the evolving needs of companies with their governance hires, and we will find the kind of innovative, creative thinker that you need to deliver to your business good, modern governance.