This is the fifth edition of the Icelandic Guidelines on Corporate Governance. The publishers of the Guidelines are the Iceland Chamber of Commerce, SA – Business Iceland and Nasdaq Iceland. The first edition was published in 2004 and the Guidelines have been reviewed on a regular basis since then.
A lot has happened since the Guidelines were first published in 2004. The Icelandic economy has had a bumpy ride over the past decade and a number of valuable lessons can be learnt. Among these is the fact that corporate boards and managers carry greater responsibility than many would have thought a decade ago. It does not therefore come as a surprise that these individuals are increasingly aware of the importance of good corporate governance and the impact it has on their performance and the long-term performance of their companies.
The Guidelines are intended to support company boards and managers in meeting the obligations they have undertaken. Additionally, the publishers of the Guidelines believe that good corporate governance can serve to strengthen company infrastructure and build trust in business generally. Both components are crucial for the competitiveness of Icelandic companies.
Domestic awareness of the importance of good corporate governance has increased steadily in recent years, which is a very positive development. The last edition of the Guidelines was larger than ever before, in terms of number of copies printed, and inquiries from stakeholders on its content and interpretation have increased steadily. A number of open meetings and conferences devoted to this topic have been held since the last Guidelines were published. Finally, several Icelandic companies have undergone formal assessments of their corporate governance at their own initiative.
While there is always room for improvement, these positive signs illustrate that a growing number of business leaders understand the advantage of adopting good corporate governance. It is important to ensure that this development continues. This will require active discussions and cooperation on the matter between different stakeholders. These may include companies, investors of all sizes and types, media, creditors, regulators, educational institutions, researchers, consultants, industry associations and politicians. It is in everybody’s common interest for all that good corporate governance is practised across the board.
Significant changes have been made on the Guidelines from the fourth version. The main focus of the review process was to make the Guidelines clearer and user-friendly, by means of general changes in format, layout and wording. Additionally, content improvements have been made based on feedback from various users of the Guidelines. While the Guidelines have been reviewed with a view to making them as suitable for Icelandic business as possible, efforts have been made to ensure that they are also in accordance with international standards and development.
Together with the publication of the fifth edition of the Guidelines on Corporate Governance, a new website has been launched: www.corporategovernance.is. The website gives access to an electronic version of the Guidelines, a complete list of changes made from the fourth edition of the Guidelines, and supplementary information on corporate governance. The electronic version of the Guidelines is interactive and customised for computers and smart devices of all shapes and sizes. The publishers of the Guidelines hope that these changes will make the Icelandic Guidelines on Corporate Governance more accessible and user-friendly.