Powering Governance: The Role of Corporate Secretaries in the Energy Industry

Secretaries play a unique role in corporate governance. Not only do they oversee and facilitate legal and financial compliance throughout the organization, but they are also responsible for ensuring effective communication and collaboration between shareholders and the board of directors, managing the board’s administrative tasks, and improving operational efficiency.

Along with climate change being such a hot-button topic, rapid shifts in energy policy and ESG investing are growing by the day, which means corporate secretaries in the oil and energy industry are left standing at an interesting juncture with a unique ability to help their corporations juggle it all. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the role of corporate secretaries in the energy industry and how streamlined entity management can help them better serve their companies.

Managing Complex Regulatory Compliance Requirements

The energy sector is a multifaceted web that obtains, maintains, and distributes a steady supply of electricity, oil, hydropower, nuclear, and natural gas resources. Given the sheer broadness of the energy industry and the power it has to impact so many aspects of daily life, it is one of the most heavily regulated sectors in the world. 

From the Energy Policy Acts of 1975 and 2005 to the Energy Policy and Modernization Act of 2012 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2016, policies surrounding energy usage in the United States alone always evolve with the times, aiming to address current issues. In addition, there are multitudes of state and local policies that entities in the oil and energy industry are legally obligated to follow. 

Furthermore, agencies like the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Federal Trade Commission regulate the financial aspects of the industry, governing issues like trading among the electric energy and natural gas markets. 

Part of a corporate secretary’s role is to enhance an energy enterprise’s reputation and integrity through continued compliance. As such, if you’re a compliance manager, it’s unlikely that you ever experience a dull moment. You must always be working to figure out how to balance the demands of existing legislation while staying up to date on ever-changing policies. In doing so, you keep the enterprise’s compliance risk exposure low while enhancing its reputation on the global stage.

Facilitating Corporate Communication and Collaboration

In addition to ensuring their enterprises stay on track with regulatory compliance, corporate secretaries in the energy industry must also take on the role of facilitators, streamlining communication between shareholders and the board of directors. Because many enterprises have a dynamic in place that allows shareholders to elect the board of directors, the board must be accountable to them and ensure they make all operational decisions in line with shareholder interests.

Even when a public company issues non-voting shares, the lines of communication between shareholders and directors should always remain open. If shareholders have questions about sustainability practices or want to vote on new compliance initiatives, the corporate secretary must determine the most appropriate communication channels, set the agenda for shareholder meetings, and prioritize questions for Q&A sessions. 

In addition to ensuring healthy, regular dialogue between directors and shareholders, corporate secretaries also collaborate with IT and legal departments for input on administrative processes and entity management software purchases. These issues often have effects on productivity and efficiency across the organization, so by advising various departments on how their decisions will impact others, the corporate secretary works to keep the entire organization running smoothly.

Taking Care of Administrative Functions

While responsible governance is what drives success in the oil and energy industry, administrative functions are the fuel that makes good governance possible in the first place. With that said, it falls on the corporate secretary to oversee and improve all of the administrative functions throughout the office. 

That responsibility starts at the top of the organization by setting, organizing, and managing board and shareholder meetings, and because meeting documentation is a regulatory compliance matter, the secretary must ensure that all minutes are thorough and up to date. The corporate secretary will then provide those records to authorized parties after the conference concludes.

Furthermore, when directors need advice on logistics or guidance on a particular matter, the corporate secretary becomes the go-to resource. Secretaries in the energy sector often acquire knowledge on a wide range of topics, from new initiatives that push for zero-emission vehicles to proposed legislation regarding renewable energy standards. If the board has a problem they want to solve, the corporate secretary will provide the necessary resources and answers.

Using Innovative Solutions to Help Corporate Secretaries Thrive in Their Roles

Although corporate secretaries are meticulous, organized, and able to multitask without sacrificing focus, the role is never without its challenges. The energy sector has been in existence for centuries, and though most energy enterprises have produced a lot of innovation in recent years, many continue to hold on to traditional operational processes, which can often hinder a corporate secretary’s mission to streamline processes to improve efficiency across the board.

The answer to that issue lies in finding entity management software that allows data gathering from multiple places to create a central source of truth, which only appropriate stakeholders can access. Not only will that facilitate an unprecedented level of transparency throughout the organization, but it will also increase productivity and facilitate timely compliance. 

No longer will you have to spend time searching for reports, documents, or data. You can now provide decision-makers in your organization with self-service access to accurate information so they can move the company in the right direction. When it's time to complete critical compliance tasks, a good entity management software platform will ensure you have the resources you need to submit all documentation correctly and on time.

Robust technology has the power to drive efficiency and innovation in energy sector enterprises. It can help corporate secretaries manage complex regulatory compliance, facilitate communication and collaboration, and take care of administrative functions with ease. When businesses equip corporate secretaries with the right tools to get the job done, they can spark transformation across the entire organization.

Learn More with Athennian

With industries facing disruptions and global challenges, modern organizations need an additional layer of resilience to operate under an increased level of uncertainty and pursue their business objectives. 

Entity management software offers this extra layer of resilience by ensuring full visibility into organizational structure, instant access to all corporate records, automated compliance and efficient workflows. If you wish to learn more about how entity management can help prepare your business to operate at a time of uncertainty, please don't hesitate to contact the Athennian team for a free consultation and demo.

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