Growing Trend: Companies Institute Chief Governance Officer Position

As companies struggle to comply with new rules and regulations stemming from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and regulatory bodies, a trend toward employing Chief Governance Officers is emerging.

It is estimated that about 60 publicly traded companies now employ CGOs, charged with ensuring the company is complying with an ever growing list of new requirements.

Robert Lamm, Computer Associates International’s new director of corporate governance, told Investors Business Daily that in the two weeks it took him to drive up the East Coast to start his new job, there was a whole set of new rules waiting for him to absorb.

"I think it was a two-week period during which the SEC issued more proposed regulations than it ever had in its existence," Lamm said. "I got here and said, 'Oh my goodness, I'm really behind the eight ball. I'm going to kill a lot of trees keeping up.' "

At Eastman Kodak Company, the new CGO will oversee the company’s compliance with "government and New York Stock Exchange mandates and to identify and adopt best practices, in the corporate governance arena," according to Business Wire, which reported that the CGO "will perform ongoing assessments of the governance practices and structure of the company's Board of Directors, and will identify opportunities for improvement."

Larry Hickey, the company’s new CGO will report to Corporate Secretary James Quinn, who told Business Wire that, "Good governance is good business. A platform of best-practice governance principles, together with strong support from senior management and the Board of Directors, is vital to ensure shareholder confidence. Larry Hickey will bring considerable experience to a task that has recently gained considerable importance with the introduction of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and new rules from the New York Stock Exchange."

Pitney Bowes, the Walt Disney Co., Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Pfizer are among the firms that have also institutionalized the CGO position or something similar to it.

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