Hawkamah, the institute of corporate governance at the Dubai International Financial Center, DIFC, added another successful annual conference to its tally.
The annual event has become a much-awaited calendar event attended by prominent local, regional and international speakers and corporate governance practitioners.
Having gained its reputation for integrity and expertise, Hawkamah is the ultimate podium for exciting insightful debates on creating value through corporate governance. This year’s event focused on subsidiary governance in state and family owned enterprises.
“Corporate Governance is not about structures and rules. It is about Corporate Culture,” as H.E Hamad Buamim stated. Companies need to look at governance as a means to create value and long term sustainability, and not a matter of compliance. As such, there is enough evidence to support arguments that better corporate governance has positive impact on operational performance and company profitability.
H.E Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, Undersecretary for Economic Affairs – Ministry of Economy, stressed that Regulation can only help but it can never be the answer alone. Corporate governance is not only about laws and regulations, but it is a matter of culture. Organizations must have the culture of transparency, stakeholder rights, risk management, and accountability H.E explained.
Reflecting on the latest regional and international regulatory trends in governance, 98% of the attendees agreed that boards should play more active role in driving corporate governance and shaping corporate culture within their organizations.
Hawkamah has dedicated one full session to gender diversity, 82% of the participants believed that gender diversity in the boardroom improved the effectiveness of boards. In the session on Board Diversity, the panelists called for more female representation on regional boards, not because of gender, but because of their experience and knowledge.
The conference sessions also discussed the challenges facing group companies, such as role of their boards of directors, governance structures, and risk management. It was evident throughout the discussions that group companies face unique challenges and that their governance and risk management structures need to be carefully designed to address the needs that each specific group has, given its own industry, level of maturity, and ownership structure.
One of the highlights of the conference was a one to one interview conducted with Mr. Mishal Kanoo, Chairman of the Kanoo Group. The interview discussed the challenges facing family owned businesses in general, with more focus on succession planning issues. Mr. Kanoo explained how his family is handling the challenges emphasizing that each family is different but it must develop a family-accepted approach in order to avoid conflicts and problems.