Stakeholders have clear expectations regarding the communication of supervisory board chairs
A key finding of the study is that the media have a high interest in corporate governance issues. Through the mediating role of the media, topics relevant to supervisory boards can become established in media discourse. Thus, public opinions are formed on topics such as board compensation.
A large proportion of media coverage is based on companies’ regular communications and statements made by supervisory board chairs as part of their disclosure obligations. However, around 20 percent of the reporting is already based on voluntary statements by supervisory board chairs or personalized reporting.
In analyst reports, topics and statements specific to supervisory boards have so far rarely been addressed.
Transparency is a central expectation of the supervisory board and its communication. All stakeholders want comprehensive and up-to-date information on the work and decision-making of the supervisory board. These transparency requirements can, to a substantial extent, be covered by disclosure requirements.
However, the annual Supervisory Board report only summarizes the work in retrospect, which is why stakeholders would like more up-to-date communication measures in the future.
In addition, supervisory board chairs and IR and PR officers should be aware of the interests of stakeholders and take them into account in their communications.
We analyzed the requirements of relevant stakeholders regarding the communication of supervisory board chairs from an external perspective. For this purpose, we examined the reporting on the supervisory board chairs of the 30-DAX and 50-MDAX companies. The analysis was conducted in 15 daily and business newspapers as well as analyst reports over two years (2016-2017). In addition, we conducted nine qualitative expert interviews with stakeholders (institutional investors, shareholder protectors, voting rights advisors, and business journalists).