The Catholic University of America

Nell Minow has been dubbed the "queen of good corporate governance" by Businessweek magazine.   

 

CUA Law Hosts SEC Historical Lecture

 

For the first time ever, the Columbus School of Law provided the venue for the Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society’s Diane Sanger Memorial Lecture, instituted last year to honor the former SEC associate general counsel, who passed away in 2008. 

The March 17 address was delivered by Nell Minow, editor and chairwoman of the Corporate Library, an independent research company. Minow has carved out an unusual dual reputation as both a highly-regarded movie critic and as one of the country’s best known advocates of good corporate governance.
 
The Diane Sanger Memorial Lecture, which was audio broadcast live by the SEC Historical Society, was established to honor Sanger’s commitment to protecting investors and ensuring fairness in the capital markets. Sanger was honored the SEC’s highest honor, its Distinguished Service Award, in 1994. 
 
The same themes resonate deeply with Minow, who was introduced as the obvious choice to deliver the address and who used the occasion to castigate again the “wacky world” of compensation for American CEOs, a subject which has earned her national recognition.
 
After introductory remarks from Carla Rosati, executive director of the SEC Historical Society; CUA law Professor David Lipton; and from Bryna Sanger, senior vice president and deputy provost of The New School, Minow launched into an amusing yet heartfelt analysis of what is wrong with too many American corporations today.
 
She shared some amazing stories, such as the tale involving a CEO whose compensation totaled $600 million per year, but who still refused to pay a nominal $200 fee whenever his wife used the corporate jet for personal travel. According to Minow, one of the major problems in corporate governance today is the laughable overcompensation of many heads of companies for mediocre performance.
 
“The only standard that should guide compensation is: What is the return on every dollar of investment in CEO pay?” said Minow.
 
She also called on shareholders everywhere to demand greater accountability from members of boards of directors, and to be willing to vote out those who don’t perform.
 
Founded in 1999, the SEC Historical Society is a non-profit organization that shares, preserves and advances knowledge of the history of financial regulation. It is independent and separate from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and receives no funding from the public sector.