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Roles & Responsibilities of the Office of Corporate Secretary

by Alison Green, studioD

In a dynamic business environment, a corporate secretary’s duties are more administrative and less clerical. He or she is responsible for facilitating effective communication among senior managers, the board of directors and shareholders, advising the CEO on matters of corporate governance and keeping records and minutes of the organization. To qualify for this position, you must earn an advanced degree in business or law and have excellent communication, analytical and interpersonal skills.

Ensuring Compliance

Given that corporations are legal entities with the ability to sue and be sued, a corporate secretary ensures the firm complies with relevant federal and state obligations. This might involve collaborating with resident lawyers to confirm that all operational decisions adhere to the law. For example, if a corporation wants to fund a politician's election campaign, the secretary should discourage this decision, because the federal campaign finance law bars corporations from funding election campaigns. She might, however, encourage individuals to donate through personal accounts.

Advising Managers

A corporate secretary often gives governance or business counsel to the board and senior management officials. For instance, a corporate secretary working in an organization that has hired a new CEO has a responsibility to help him get along with his duties. The secretary provides information on the typical company practices and might help him tailor his corporate governance principles to fit the board's needs and expectations. A smart corporate secretary stays knowledgeable of current issues by reading corporate governance publications and attending educational workshops regularly.

Facilitating Communication

Effective corporate communication plays a leading role in shaping the public image of a corporation. If you have been appointed to this position, you are expected to develop a communication strategy that can facilitate sharing of informing in and outside of the organization. You can, for example, establish a liaison department within your office and charge it with receiving information from external parties, such as governance officials, investors and suppliers and routing it to appropriate company officials. A corporate secretary also reads daily newspapers to obtain public opinions on the corporation.

Managing Records

Besides keeping records of board and committee meetings, a corporate secretary manages records of employee benefits such as pensions and share schemes and insurance policies. To do this, she might develop a records management system that can improve the efficiency of her office by eliminating incidents of misfiling information. When the corporation hires new employees, the secretary enters employment contracts into the system and enrolls them in the company's employee benefit schemes. When necessary, she uses computer software to create spreadsheets, compose messages and produce presentations.

About the Author

Based in New York City, Alison Green has been writing professionally on career topics for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in “U.S. News Weekly” magazine, “The Career” magazine and “Human Resources Journal.” Green holds a master's degree in finance from New York University.

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