Public Company Communication, Engagement and Accountability: Where are We and Where Should We Be Heading?
(2013) 31 Company and Securities Law Journal 167
23 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2014
Date Written: 2013
The annual general meeting was introduced as an essential element of the public company governance model. However, the usefulness of these meetings is being increasingly questioned both in Australia and elsewhere. The article initially examines the role of annual general meetings in Australia. Proposals to enhance the value of these meetings are reviewed. The efficacy of annual general meetings is then discussed within the broader context of public company communication, engagement and accountability. Most listed company exchanges involving governance and operational matters occur during private meetings with institutional attendees. The public discourse tends to be limited and sanitised. The article argues that the rationales and assumptions underlying this hierarchical communication structure are deeply flawed. Annual general meetings provide a limited forum once a year for shareholders to meet and directly question company directors. Broader and more robust governance and accountability mechanisms will only emerge when listed companies are required to utilise available digital technologies to communicate and regularly engage with all of their stakeholders (and critics) in the public arena. Public corporations are privileged legal constructs, and as such, they should be compelled to communicate with, and to remain accountable to, the public at large.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation