CHARLOTTE, N.C. - "Stakeholder-focused corporate governance leads to higher investor confidence, more stable earnings, and a better share price," Jim Rogers, chairman, president and CEO of Duke Energy, recently told members of The Citadel Directors Institute.
Rogers was the keynote speaker at the Citadel School of Business Administration's conference to keep public company directors abreast of new and current issues on corporate governance.
His remarks on stakeholder-focused corporate governance were based on his experience serving as a corporate director on nine public companies, including Duke Energy and its predecessors. His recommendations included:
- Create Sustainable Stewardship: It can be challenging to find balance between shareholders and other stakeholders who sometimes have competing interests. These include customers, employees, suppliers, partners, regulators and communities. Rogers calls this balance “sustainable stewardship.” Sustainable stewardship requires a corporate governance framework that enables a decision-making process to support such a balance.
- Be Thoughtfully Skeptical: The role of thoughtful directors is to work with managers to set a corporation on a course toward long-term value creation. Rogers said, “A diverse board of directors that is willing to be thoughtfully skeptical yet constructively supportive of management’s business strategy is key to a corporation’s success.”
- Create an Environment of Engagement: As board chairman, Rogers sees his role as creating an environment of engagement among directors -- where openly challenging the prevailing point of view is not only welcomed, but encouraged. Rogers stated, “Only with an open and healthy exchange of views can the board reach the best decisions for its stakeholders.” An independent and engaged board of directors can set the course for a corporation’s long-term success.
- Talk to Others: The Duke Energy Board regularly invites competitors, partners, regulators and industry experts to speak at its meetings. Rogers indicated, “Bringing in external perspectives supports the Board’s effort to fight complacency and not settle for conventional thinking.”
"Corporate governance -- at its heart -- is about transparency and point of view," said Rogers. "Stakeholder-centered governance is synonymous with true accountability."
Rogers concluded, "Corporate governance practices and a company's board of directors should be a competitive advantage. This is more than just checking a box for compliance."
Rogers cultivated his governance philosophy in 1994, after he oversaw the merger of Cincinnati Gas & Electric and Public Service Company of Indiana to create Cinergy Corp. His board brought in Jay Lorsch of the Harvard University School of Business to show them how to develop a stakeholder approach to governance. In the end, Cinergy became one of the first companies in the nation to establish a corporate governance committee. In 2006, Cinergy merged with Duke Energy, with Rogers assuming his current role. Under his leadership at Duke Energy and its predecessor companies, total shareholder return has averaged roughly 12.5 percent.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available on the Internet at: www.duke-energy.com.