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A tribe of chief officers: legal, corporate secretary, compliance, governance and corporate responsibility

The whole domain of this handful of responsibilities remains very much in flux. An in Corp. Secretary, Jan. 2006 at 12, provides data from a large-scale survey and some thoughtful commentary on the turbulent scene. For example, at Edwards Life Sciences (Irvine, CA) the company’s general counsel also holds the title of “corporate responsibility officer.” In that role, says the lawyer, Jay Wertheim, “the corporate responsibility officer has primary responsibility for the business ethics of the company” (at 16).

Nor are reporting lines of these various positions established. The survey reported in the article found that 24 percent of the respondents said the chief compliance and governance officers report to the CEO, followed by 14 percent report to the general counsel (See my post of Sept. 10, 2005 with some data on reporting lines of governance officers and Nov. 25, 2005 on reporting lines of chief compliance officers.). A slightly lower percentage reports into the audit committee of the board of directors. The tussle for oversight continues.

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