10/24/2011 03:10:00 PM EST
Corporate Political Spending Message: Boards Should Get Handle on Process
by Gary Larkin
Of all the messages coming out of The Conference Board
Committee on Corporate Political Spending Symposium Thursday, there was one
that resonated the most with public boards.
To put it succinctly, that message is that no matter how
politically active a company may be, it is imperative that boards should make
sure management has in place a process to track such expenditures, compile them
and, when appropriate, disclose them. The new report from the committee, Corporate
Political Spending: Policies and Practices, Accountability and Disclosure,
[click here for a copy of the report] states: "...disclosure of
corporate political spending in the context of the business strategies,
principles and policies that guided those decisions may make a company less
vulnerable to the risk of unwarranted allegations."
Timothy Smith, senior vice president and director of ESG
(Environmental, Social and Governance) Shareowner Engagement for Walden Asset
Management, specified three reasons a board should be concerned about corporate
"There is risk, such as the risk of having a company
executive donating to a campaign that the corporate office did not know about,"
Smith told attendees at the symposium in New York City. "[There is] seeking
transparency - knowing if checks and balances are in place and how monies
are spent directly or indirectly. And [there is] accountability - knowing
what a company does and how they do it."
Read the rest of this article on the Governance Center Blog
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