Importance of corporate governance in modern business and its pivotal role

Importance of corporate governance in modern business and its pivotal role

Updated: September 27, 2023
13 min read
Importance of corporate governance
Post link has been copied

The importance of good corporate governance practices are vital in an era of transparency, accountability, and company sustainability. Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance mentioned that 64% of investors believe weak governance practices are the most crucial factor, alongside poor financial performance when making investment decisions. 

Thus, boards should at least compare and track their corporate governance practices with the market and peers to ensure better stakeholder reporting in successful business. Also, a positive environment, business ethics, and board culture boost a company’s reputation and ensure its longevity.

In this article we explain the importance of corporate governance in strategic management, comparing models of corporate governance across various industries. We also delve into how to measure board effectiveness of good corporate governance and explain the principles of corporate governance. 

Cultivating a high-performing board

An introduction to the essentials of corporate governance

Corporate governance refers to the set of rules, procedures, and processes that guide and control a firm. The importance of corporate governance in organizations has gained significant attention in the contemporary business landscape. 

Not merely a set of guidelines, an effective corporate governance framework is instrumental in influencing the behavior of key players and other stakeholders within a company. Thus, policies, corporate culture, goals, ethical behavior, and a positive workplace environment are essential for ethical decision-making and long-term value creation.

Additionally, to achieve exceptional corporate governance and uphold business integrity, risk management should become a part of corporate strategy. Enterprise risk management helps identify, evaluate, and manage risks proactively, which, in turn, reduces threats and improves corporate transparency in terms of long-term success.

Finally, the Deloitte report “Good Governance Driving Corporate Performance” confirms that implementing good governance practices leads to better organizational performance. It emphasizes the growing importance of corporate governance in shaping the decisions made by independent directors, boards of directors, company management, senior management executives, and other stakeholders. 

See how we can support your board meetings

Why is corporate governance important?

The paramount importance of good corporate governance is evident in its profound influence on how businesses establish their reputation and credibility. By implementing effective practices, companies foster a culture of integrity, resulting in positive performance and long-term sustainability.

Forbes also highlights that having good corporate governance leads to a corporate culture that prioritizes accountability, transparency, and the welfare of stakeholders. Furthermore, board members and senior leaders who uphold good corporate governance act as the foundation of business values.

Take a closer look at the advantages that come with effective corporate governance:

  1. Improved capital flow. A strong financial management reporting system boosts investor and bank confidence. Thus, a board of directors has better access to capital, reducing equity and capital costs. It also ensures a transparent capital structure, reducing risk premiums.
  2. Risk mitigation. An effective corporate governance system ensures shareholders that the board and management will protect their interests. It prompts reflection on exit strategies and provides comfort to prospective investors.
  3. Reputational boost. Companies that practice good corporate governance have transparent internal policies and controls. Indeed, the study confirms that there is a correlation between reputation and brand value and implementing corporate governance. 
  4. More effective decision-making. Good corporate governance explains the responsibilities of owners and management, expediting decision-making. 
  5. Improved reporting. Enhanced performance reporting leads to fact-based decisions, cost reduction, and improved sales margins.
  6. Focus on compliance. Corporate governance ensures compliance with local laws and regulations, synchronizing risk management and compliance for proper control mechanisms, efficient operations, and goal achievement.
  7. Increased employee retention. A well-defined vision and direction excite and retain employees, making market entry and shareholder attraction simpler. 
Why is corporate governance important?

Corporate governance in strategic management

Corporate governance is critical in directing public companies’ strategic planning. Essentially, it ensures that a company’s management aligns its business strategies with the best interests of stakeholders, paving the way for long-term value creation.

A few critical ways in which corporate governance intersects with strategic decision-making include:

  1. The appointment of independent directors who provide objective insights to improve business strategy.
  2. The promotion of transparency in financial reporting to ensure stakeholders and the board of directors have a clear view of the company’s operations and financial viability.
  3. The establishment of principles of corporate governance that ensure that the company operates ethically, fostering a company culture that is conducive to long-term success.

Furthermore, strong corporate governance aids in managing risks, shaping corporate behavior, and overseeing executive compensation. Thus, companies with good corporate governance tend to be more sustainable, given their emphasis on accurate financial reporting and maintaining trust with company insiders and major shareholders. 

In contrast, bad corporate governance weakens the potential and sustainability of companies, even those with strong financial performances. To achieve long-term success and sustainability, integrating corporate governance into the leadership structure is not just beneficial — it’s essential. 

Importance of board of directors in corporate governance

The board of directors stands as a key component in upholding strong corporate governance standards in public companies. Its duty includes reviewing, comprehending, and deliberating on the company’s goals. The board of directors ensures the company’s direction resonates with its basic principles and transparent decisions.

But to ensure the organization’s success, board diversity is paramount. For example, McKinsey & Company suggests that companies with more diverse boards tend to perform better financially. Specifically, companies whose diverse boards rank in the top quartile for gender diversity are 28% more likely to outperform their peers.

When survey participants were asked to choose among factors they believed were crucial to fostering diversity of thought (allowing for multiple choices), 88% prioritized gender diversity, 83% emphasized race, while socio-economic background was considered significant by only 58%.

Let’s delve into the roles and responsibilities of the board of directors: 

  1. Strategic planning. Much like a compass for a ship, the board ensures that corporate strategies and business strategies align with the company’s mission statement. Their involvement in strategic planning paves the way for both short-term and long-term organizational success.
  2. Defined responsibilities. With clearly defined roles, board members are accountable for overseeing the company’s activities, from evaluating business decisions to reviewing financial documents.
  3. Financial oversight. They’re integral in assessing financial statements, ensuring robust internal controls, and working alongside audit committees for accurate external audits.
  4. Executive management. The board plays a vital role in executive compensation, ensuring it’s aligned with the company’s objectives and compliant with securities laws.
  5. Diverse perspectives. A diverse board brings a fresh perspective to decision-making, making it essential for good corporate governance.
  6. Risk management. Their involvement in risk identification ensures that potential conflicting interests or signs of bad corporate governance are addressed promptly.

Significance of board committees

In a modern business landscape, the importance of board committees in corporate governance cannot be overlooked. These specialized groups streamline decision-making, enabling corporations to operate more transparently and efficiently. Among these committees, some of the most notable include:

  1. The audit committee is tasked with overseeing financial reporting and disclosure. They play a pivotal role in ensuring the company’s financial statements are accurate and adhere to legal requirements.
  2. Compensation committees are responsible for evaluating and determining the remuneration of top executives and board members. Their work ensures that pay structures are aligned with company performance and stakeholder interests.
  3. Nominating committees focus on the selection and recommendation of potential board members. They ensure the board has a diverse and competent mix of individuals suited for steering the company towards its objectives. Additionally, they are responsible for board succession planning.

Each of these committees holds specific roles and responsibilities in implementing strong corporate governance. The infographic below illustrates the hierarchy of board committees within the company.

board of directors structure
Board of directors structure

Importance of corporate governance to stakeholders

Strong corporate governance involves internal processes, practices, and rules that control and manage an organization. It encompasses various aspects such as company strategy, planning, values, ethics, risk management, compensation, and more. 

To better understand the value and importance of stakeholders, you can familiarize yourself with the essentials of stakeholder theory.

In fact, stakeholder theory considers the impact and interests of all groups connected to an organization. Additionally, it promotes an ethical approach to managing companies in a complex environment, balancing the benefits of various stakeholders. Below are listed the main principles of stakeholder theory.

  1. Principle of entry and exit. Clear policies on recruitment and dismissal set the right expectations for potential employees.
  2. Principle of governance. Rules should evolve with stakeholder needs but change with broad agreement.
  3. Principle of externalities. Both internal and external entities affected by an organization should be considered in decisions.
  4. Principle of contract cost. Contributions from parties should match their involvement and benefits.
  5. Principle of agency. Management is responsible to both shareholders and all other stakeholders.
  6. Principle of limited immortality. Organizations should aim for longevity through strategic planning and adaptability.

Indeed, strong corporate governance has a significant impact on multiple stakeholders. It includes the following aspects:

  1. Shareholders, who rely on good governance to protect their investments and ensure that the organization prioritizes their interests in business operations.
  2. Employees, who benefit from fair labor practices, opportunities for career development, and a supportive work environment.
  3. Customers, who expect products and services rooted in ethical practices and appreciate businesses that value integrity.
  4. Community, as a whole, benefits when businesses prioritize ESG (environmental, social, and governance) factors. This approach emphasizes the importance of long-term sustainability and community welfare

The growing importance of corporate governance in responsible business

Corporate governance has evolved as a keystone of responsible and ethical operations in the ever-changing business world. Its significance has grown as a result of a few significant advancements.

1. AI oversight

In recent years, there has been an increase in regulations surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The European Commission is leading the way with cross-sectoral AI regulation, which is often compared to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for AI.  Many companies use AI for scenario planning but oversight is a concern. The survey of Baker McKenzie found that 52% of executives recognize risks associated with AI, but only 4% consider them significant.

2. Rise of ESG politics

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics have moved to the forefront of assessing business sustainability. In fact, investors and organizations have come to recognize the significance of non-financial factors and are prioritizing them over profits due to the current state of the global climate. A prime example of this is BlackRock, a large global asset manager, which has made sustainability a key focus in its investment strategy.

3. Integration of technology and cybersecurity

As digital transformation accelerated, the role of technology in corporate governance grew in tandem. Companies recognized the need to fortify their digital assets and protect sensitive information. In its report, Deloitte emphasizes the integration of cybersecurity measures and technological strategies as an essential facet of effective governance. Moreover, it underlines the convergence of digital advancement with traditional governance structures.

Transparency and accountability

In today’s corporate world, the importance of transparency in corporate governance is crucial. Transparency serves as a linchpin for fostering trust among stakeholders, from employees to investors. In particular, providing transparent annual reports and disclosing performance results benefits shareholders, employees, suppliers, and the local community alike.

When companies are open about their operations, financials, and strategies, they:

  1. Foster an environment where unethical practices are less likely to occur.
  2. Strengthen investor confidence and credibility in the market.
  3. Promote a culture of open communication and collaboration.

Good corporate governance relies on a strong legal, regulatory, and institutional framework. To establish transparent, responsible, and ethical corporate governance, companies should follow a combination of laws, self-regulation, voluntary commitments, and standard business practices. 

Similarly, the importance of accountability in corporate governance is equally important. Individuals and teams in a corporation are held accountable for their actions and decision-making process.

Consequently, this inherently minimizes the chances of corporate misconduct, as there’s a clear understanding that consequences will follow any deviations from ethical standards. 

Implementing corporate governance, transparency and accountability together form a powerful duo that ensures ethical behavior and reinforces the trust of stakeholders.

Shareholders’ role in corporate governance

In the landscape of the importance of corporate governance in modern business, shareholders undeniably stand out as pivotal figures. Their integral role revolves around being the ‘watchdogs’ of the corporate world, ensuring the integrity, transparency, and efficiency of boards and executive teams.

The main roles and responsibilities of shareholders include: 

  • Voting on critical matters (e.g., mergers, director nominations, significant business decisions)
  • Power to elect, re-elect, or remove board members
  • Strategic influence on the company’s direction

The following infographic outlines the various responsibilities and functions of shareholders:

shareholder roles

It’s worth noting that a company’s prosperity is, in many ways, reflective of the depth of its shareholders’ engagement in its governance. In essence, their involvement is not merely about safeguarding investments but about bolstering the very bedrock of corporate ethos.

Responsibility and modern business

Nowadays, the connection between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability with corporate governance is becoming increasingly evident. Essentially, responsible companies go beyond just maximizing profits. Essentially, responsible companies go beyond mere profit maximization, embracing an ethical facet that, when implemented correctly, has a positive impact on their overall performance.

Indeed, the Harvard Business Review study found that companies with strong CSR had better financial performance

In this section, we will examine three essential components of corporate social responsibility within the framework of contemporary enterprise.

1. Investment decision

Modern companies now recognize the significance of their investment decisions and are increasingly considering CSR and sustainability. They acknowledge that ethical considerations are crucial for creating long-term value for shareholders. In fact, the PwC report demonstrates that 64% of CEOs deem CSR an essential component of their business strategy.

Given this, the companies undergo transformative changes, steering the corporate ship. Most CEOs understand the need to combine profit with social and environmental sustainability.

2. Diverse board

Diverse boards encourage ethical, long-term, and socially responsible company operations.  They assist companies in making sound decisions, effectively engaging stakeholders, and improving their reputation as socially responsible entities. Also, diversity helps companies tap into new markets and find opportunities for growth and innovation

The study on Diversity and Effectiveness in FTSE 350 Companies found that boards with well-managed gender diversity tend to have higher stock returns and are less prone to experiencing shareholder dissent. Furthermore, diversity has an impact on boardroom dynamics, and having a higher percentage of women in the boardroom is particularly beneficial.

3. Ethical aspects

A company practicing ethical behavior usually makes choices that promote robust corporate social responsibility. Focusing on ethical considerations brings many benefits to companies, such as enhancing their reputation, financial performance, employee morale, and relationships with stakeholders. 

A company that engages in dishonest or harmful behavior that negatively impacts society or the environment is at risk of losing a large portion of potential customers. In fact, 25% of consumers and 22% of investors have a “zero tolerance” policy towards companies that adopt questionable ethical practices.

Key takeaways 

Corporate governance plays a pivotal role in fostering accountability and long-term success within businesses. It encompasses vital principles such as transparency, accountability, ethical conduct, and cultivating a positive workplace culture.

Here are several key takeaways highlighting the significance of effective corporate governance:

  1. Good corporate governance practices are crucial for building trust, reputation, and long-term sustainability. They include transparency, accountability, ethical behavior, and a positive workplace environment.
  2. Effective corporate governance has several advantages, including improved access to capital, risk mitigation, reputational enhancement, more effective decision-making, and compliance with laws and regulations. It also contributes to staff retention and attracts responsible investors.
  3. Diverse boards tend to perform better financially, and they bring fresh perspectives to decision-making. Companies with diverse boards are more likely to outperform their peers and address issues related to governance and sustainability effectively.

Prioritizing effective governance secures long-term success and enhances stakeholder trust. Using board portals streamlines the governing processes with high security of sensitive data. In particular, iDeals facilitates the users with a variety of voting, agenda and meeting creating features. iDeals Board streamlines your efforts for optimal corporate performance.


What is corporate governance and why is it important?

Good corporate governance represents the structured framework utilized to determine business direction and performance. It plays an indispensable role in fostering trust, ensuring compliance, and upholding the principles of accountability and transparency in business operations.

How do the board of directors and board committees enhance corporate governance?

They are tasked with ensuring adherence to established guidelines and managing conflicting interests. Board committees further reinforce governance, with each committee focusing on distinct aspects of business oversight.

How does corporate governance impact stakeholders?

Strong corporate governance balances diverse interests, ensures that each stakeholder’s voice is heard, and establishes a framework of transparency and accountability.

See how can we support your board meeting

Explore our comprehensive solution designed to optimize every aspect of your board meetings