Boom in nominees confirms growing prestige of honours
The Hong Kong Institute of Directors (HKIOD) has seen growing interest in its Directors of the Year awards on the back of rising standards in corporate governance in boardrooms across the city.
'Nominations show the quality has been improving and companies have a full awareness of what is required,' explains Kelvin Wong, chairman of the HKIOD.
The awards, in their 10th year, now accept nominations on a rolling basis to reflect increased interest.
The objective is to recognise outstanding boards as a collective and individually, in an effort to promote good corporate governance and professionalism.
Categories include listed companies on the Hang Seng Index, non-listed companies, private companies, statutory and non-profit distributing organisations in addition to non-executive directors and executive directors.
Selection criteria for individual director categories require entrants to have demonstrated effectiveness in strategic corporate business functions, contributed to the board's effectiveness, managed change, risk and succession, showed leadership, and other attributes and qualities in addition to upholding business ethics and other outstanding achievements.
Requirement for the board categories includes board composition and the skill mix and competencies of the directors, their effectiveness in strategic corporate business functions, development and implementation of strategic plans, monitoring of performance, managing compliance and accountability, change, risk and succession, and the development of the board, effectiveness of the board committees and business ethics.
Winners this year span a gamut of industries from property development to mining, retail to finance and banking.
Boards recognised for their outstanding achievement as a collective whole include China Resources Enterprise, Esprit Holdings, Cosco International Holdings, The Link Management and Zhaojin Mining Industry.
Directors awards at individual level include Edward Chow at Cosco Pacific, Guo Guangchang at Fosun International, Li Hao at China Merchants Bank, Lu Dongshang at Zhaojin Mining Industry, Thomas Wu at Hopewell Holdings, Zhang Fusheng at Cosco International Holdings and Justin Chiu at ARA Asset Management.
'Effective company directors are vital to Hong Kong's continued progress as a well-respected global business and financial centre, as they are better able to lead their corporations' efforts to adhere to a good corporate governance system and thus achieve better financial results,' Wong says.
'As the economy recovers from the global financial crisis, companies with a good corporate governance standard are among the first to stand out and reap the fruit of prosperous times.
'The awards wish to honour those who achieve sustainable growth adhering to an extremely high standard of corporate governance in today's vastly competitive business environment.'
There has, in recent years, been greater participation by listed mainland-based companies, though private enterprises and non-governmental organisations still lag behind, the organiser says.
'We believe it is high time the non-profit distributing sector implements a check and balance system or risk losing their dearest and most intangible asset, that is their reputation,' Wong says.
The award is, however, not all about winning.
Wong points out it is as much about the nomination process, which involves thorough submissions, in-depth interviews with a consultant from the institute and a report to the panel of judges, allows candidates the invaluable opportunity for introspection.
'The nomination process is like a health check for companies, and is absolutely free of charge,' Wong says.
The enthusiasm of the candidates is also evident as the award means so much more than just a trophy.
'Candidates are very eager to get the award because it can bring home a strong message, the importance of maintaining and improving corporate governance standards.
'The award gives impetus and motivation to improve the organisation. It also builds on the individual's corporate reputation,' Wong says.