Food for thought and reading material for the GBN summer break

Wulf Matthias

Dear GBN readers,

before we say goodbye to the (summer) break before the next ‘wave’, another “Bravo, Jens Wilhelm & Co.”!

Who is he? Jens Wilhelm, member of the Board of Managing Directors of Union Investment, but also: member of the DCGK Commission (of which nothing has been heard for a long time) and member of the Board of Managing Directors and the Presidium of the Deutsches Aktieninstitut (also the office of the DCGK Commission financed by Union Investment).

I admit that I can’t help but make these little ‘jibes’ towards the DCGK Commission and transparency. It’s nothing personal, but as the wise poet says: “The fish stinks from the head”. And corporate governance in Germany is – pardon – still on the level of a … (no, I’m not writing it out).

But joking aside: for years we have been driving the discussion towards transparency and sustainability with #FGG(FutureGoodGovernance) and have been calling for a DCGK worthy of the name – namely one that puts the onus on the person of the decision-maker (see “VARD professional principles“) and opens up spaces for sustainability, transparency and communication and does not crush any discussion in the bud with ‘check-the-box’. We had almost given up hope for 2021 and wanted to wait in humility for the next ‘coalition agreement’, or the next CEO letter from ‘Larry Fink’ (Blackrock), or a postille from Hans-Christoph Hirt, or […]. But lo and behold, Jens Wilhelm presents a Union Investment study that packs a punch (if you read it as it is hopefully meant to be read):

“He argues that the issue of corporate governance should not be viewed in isolation, but in a broader ESG context: “Sustainability has become fundamental. As fiduciaries, we want to actively accompany the transformation of companies towards greater sustainability.”

This may sound like a platitude at first glance, but the thinking behind it and the study are worth reading – even though I naturally remain sceptical about attempts by investors to take over interpretive authority on corporate governance.

NB: I also find the ranking very (!!) interesting. We are also working on something like this at GBN (just much more slowlyđŸ€Ș) – nor do we want to ‘spur on’ others to ‘obey’. We want to ‘shake up’ the decision-makers in the German capital market (again and again) and get them to “take the reins”.

But that’s enough now. It is summer break!

Stay cautious and healthy. And get yourself (and your colleagues/employees) vaccinated. I know, many of you already have.

Bye & see you soon (early September)

H. Dehnen