The United Kingdom will assume pole position in the global drive to raise standards of corporate governance if it implements the recommendations of the recently published Higgs Report. Or so says Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), the provider of proxy voting and corporate governance data services.
“This is excellent work,” says Jamie Heard, CEO, ISS. “It is thoughtful, comprehensive and well written. It is brimming with proposals that will strengthen the independence and effectiveness of UK company boards. I particularly welcome the report’s recommendation that a majority of non-executive directors be independent, that director tenures be limited, and that directors limit the number of boards on which they serve. The report`s recommendation to separate the office of chairman and CEO – a common practice already in the UK – is one that should be accepted in the US where, the concentration of power in the hands of a singe individual serving as chairman and CEO often frustrates efforts to create more independent and effective boards.”
Heard served as President of Institutional Shareholder Services from 1991 to 1996 and served as Deputy Executive Director of the Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC). He is a graduate of Harvard and George Washington University Law School, and he is a member of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia.