DEXUS sets the tone at the top

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Darren Steinberg – CEO, DEXUS Property Group

 

 

As CEO and executive director of the board of DEXUS Property Group, I am proud of our strong record of corporate governance. Good governance originates from the board and is well-articulated to senior management and across the business. Always aware that there is opportunity to enhance our governance, DEXUS is embarking on a period of refocus.

One of the key foundations underlining our governance is our acknowledgement of the importance of ‘tone at the top’. Perhaps the biggest challenge for a board is to maintain oversight and not get involved in the day-to-day management of the business. The role of a good board is to oversee robust policies that support the success of the business.

As a Top 50 Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) listed entity, DEXUS’s governance framework adheres to the ASX Corporate Governance Council Principles, which are:

Principle 1 Lay solid foundations for management and oversight

Principle 2 Structure the board to add value

Principle 3 Act ethically and responsibly

Principle 4 Safeguard integrity in corporate reporting

Principle 5 Make timely and balanced disclosure

Principle 6 Respect the rights of security holders

Principle 7 Recognise and manage risk

Principle 8 Remunerate fairly and responsibly

 

Act ethically and responsibly – your business will be rewarded

I would like to take a closer look at two of these principles; starting with Principle 3. This year, we had a particular focus on diversity. DEXUS comprises a socially and culturally diverse workplace and we have created a culture that is tolerant, flexible and adaptive to the changing needs of our industry. We are committed to diversity and promote a work environment conducive to the merit-based appointment of qualified employees, senior management and directors. Where professional intermediaries are used to identify or assess candidates, they are made aware of our commitment to diversity.

 

“We have created a culture that is tolerant, flexible and adaptive to the changing needs of our industry.”

 

During 2015, the corporate responsibility, inclusion and diversity committee, chaired by myself, continued to promote and encourage a work environment where diversity is understood and valued.

We publish annual statistics on the diversity profile of our board and senior management, including a breakdown of the type and seniority of roles undertaken by women. We acknowledge and fulfil our obligations under relevant employment legislation, including the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.

We set ourselves a gender diversity target of having 33 per cent of non-executive director positions and 33 per cent of senior management roles to be held by women by 30 June 2015. As at 30 June 2015, 43 per cent of non-executive directors and 26 per cent of senior managers were female. Overall, 48 per cent of our employees were female.

Respect the rights of security holders – manage relationships for the long-term

In regards to Principle 6, over the past few years, we have paid particular attention to improving the relationship that we have with our security holders. We have refreshed our communications with them and made some positive changes.

DEXUS recognises the importance of security holder participation at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and we recently revised the structure of our AGM to further support and encourage that participation.

We have provided a forum promoting two-way communication and engaging our security holders to openly enquire about our business and, through tours of our properties, witness first-hand the infrastructure in which they own a stake. We call this concept ‘a conversation with the board’. Our security holders have embraced this more casual structure of our AGM and our meeting attendances are the highest they have ever been.

In addition to conducting an AGM, we have an investor relations and communications strategy that promotes an informed market and encourages participation with investors. DEXUS is committed to ensuring that investors, the market and other stakeholders receive accurate and relevant information in a timely manner and has formalised policies and procedures in place to ensure that all continuous disclosure obligations are met.

Over and above our continuous disclosure obligations and regulatory reporting requirements, our investor relations and communications strategy involves providing an open and ongoing two-way dialogue with the investment community and other key stakeholders that integrates the communication of DEXUS’s strategy, business model, financial and operational performance and key business risks through presentations, briefings, webcasts, meetings and property tours.

DEXUS was the first property company in Australia to introduce an investor relations app available for iPhone, iPad and Android, providing security holders with instant access to corporate and stock information, such as recent announcements, results reporting and research reports. DEXUS has a corporate company page on LinkedIn which enables it to ‘push’ news stories and ASX releases to its large network of DEXUS followers.

What is the focus of our Board going forward?

We have spent time laying the foundations of strong governance through adopting a robust governance structure and getting our policies and procedures right. To meet statutory and fiduciary obligations (including those relating to the management of third-party funds and capital partners) and to maintain confidence in our integrity, the Board implements a series of clearly articulated policies and procedures to which all employees must adhere. All employees are required to confirm, on an annual basis, that they remain in compliance with key DEXUS policies.

Acknowledging the importance of ‘tone at the top’, our incumbent chair has made it a priority to get to know the talent in our organisation, not just at the executive level but deeper within our organisation. We maintain that if our Board spends the time ensuring good governance, this can make a difference to DEXUS’s performance.

This year we will revisit our policies and procedures and ensure they meet the Board’s expectations for strong governance across our organisation as it stands today. And we will continue to review the role of the Board to ensure our governance is the best it can be.

 

 

About The Author:

Darren Steinberg is the CEO of DEXUS Property Group and an Executive Director of DEXUS Funds Management Limited.

Darren has over 25 years’ experience in the property and funds management industry with an extensive background in office, industrial and retail property investment and development. Darren has a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Western Australia. Darren is a Director and the former National President of the Property Council of Australia, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Australian Property Institute.