How Cybersecurity Affects the Evolving Role of the Corporate Secretary

by Josiah Eufemio on September 7, 2018 and last updated on September 13, 2018

How Cybersecurity Affects the Evolving Role of the Corporate Secretary

Rapid digital transformation has encouraged companies to move critical aspects of their business onto electronic platforms. Adopting these new technologies may mean more efficient business processes and an increased operational productivity, but these transformations do not come without risks. In dealing with the advanced technologies of today, traditional security standards may no longer be enough.

The Changing Role of the Corporate Secretary

The growing implications of cyberattacks on companies make cybersecurity appear more frequently in the boardroom agenda. Companies are becoming more aware of the possible repercussions of taking cybersecurity lightly, which may include revenue loss, reputational damage, data breach, and consequently, lawsuits. As an advisor to the board on compliance, the corporate secretary plays a critical role in ensuring cybersecurity across the organization. The digital landscape constantly evolves, and so does the role of a corporate secretary.

Technology has been the main driver for the changing role of the corporate secretary. Moving away from the traditional minute-taking and bookkeeping responsibilities, the role of the corporate secretary has expanded into ensuring effective corporate governance and compliance to state laws. The 21st century corporate secretary is one who can adapt to new technologies to sustain these roles.

How Technology Affects Corporate Governance

When assessing the role of the board and the corporate secretary in overseeing cybersecurity, it is important to consider the broad responsibilities the board has to fulfill for the company, especially in compliance, corporate governance, and risk management. With an increased understanding of this role, cybersecurity has become a key strategy priority for corporate boards.

For corporate secretaries, the introduction of digital technologies provides increased capacities in performing their secretarial duties. For instance, digital meeting solutions give secretaries the ability to track and archive all leadership activities and decisions, making them available for review in the future. These digital meeting solutions come with strong security models for document management which allows for defining permissions-based access, together with a fine-grained audit trail to track who initiates and carries out every action within the system. These features help ensure that the integrity and reliability of critical board information are maintained.

Secure communications should also come on top of the corporate secretary’s priority list. Traditional board communication channels, especially e-mail, are proven to be more prone to breaches. Sensitive and critical information such as financial documents may be compromised with device loss or a malware attack. It is therefore important to ensure that all documents are encrypted prior to distribution.

The Future Role of the Corporate Secretary

Business leaders are under the constant pressure to deliver market-leading results. As an independent bridge between the executive management and the board, the corporate secretary acts as a strategic partner in delivering sustainable business performance while ensuring good governance. We have seen the responsibilities of corporate secretaries evolve significantly over the years. The corporate secretary played an even more involved role in the changes in the economic, business and technology landscape. As digital transformation shapes the new ways businesses work, corporate secretaries are expected to play an even more dynamic role in the coming years.

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