Board activity reports are not all that fun, but they’re very necessary. While reporting may not be the most exciting part of your corporate government activities, the fact is a great board and committee activity report can be a powerful tool, and one worth putting some thought into.
The reason is simple: a good annual (or quarterly) governance report is the best way to let your stakeholders know what you’re doing and to keep them up to date on the decisions each governance body has made throughout the year and, as a consequence, to instill confidence on your ability to handle the company.
So if you’re ready to invest a little more time to make your reports extraordinary, keep in mind these simple tips.
1. Make it as easy to read as possible –don’t be afraid to incorporate different design elements.
Resist the temptation of resorting to long descriptions and paragraphs. Your readers will thank you, and understand what a great job you’ve done much better, if you use tables and graphics, and if you’re concise and to the point. Give them an index, include pictures of members instead of just their names, and color-code results for a great reading experience.
At the end of the day, the purpose of a report is to get them to really understand what you’ve done, not just to say it to a void.
For this particular item, it can be useful if you have a platform that gives you some of this reporting ready-made.
2. Include a map of your governance structure.
This is particularly important if your report includes all of your boards and committees.
If sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all of your governance bodies yourself, imagine how hard it is for someone outside of the company. By laying them out in a “map”, your readers will know what to expect in the following sections, and will have a clear view of the way you work before you even explain it to them.
3. Stick to what’s important…
Focus on 5 things for each governance body: composition and attendance, the key topics of the period, the people who appeared before the board or committee during the year, improvements to the operating procedures (if any) and any governance body specific things that you want to showcase.
4. …but highlight your strengths.
Did you have a great year in terms of shareholder engagement? Add a section on it.
Is your board diversity off the charts? Add a section on it.
Do your board members take part in an ongoing training program? Go ahead and add that, too.
You’ve done a good job, and showcasing it is worth messing a little bit with the set structure of the document. Who said these reports had to look a certain way?