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Corporate Governance

 

Definition and Purpose The Governance Structure Roles Board Committees

Preamble

Over the years, ITC has evolved from a single product company to a multi-business corporation. Its diverse businesses include fast moving consumer goods such as cigarettes, cigars, branded packaged foods, lifestyle apparel, personal care products, education & stationery products, safety matches and agarbattis, as well as hotels, paperboards & specialty papers, packaging, agri business and information technology. Each of these businesses is vastly different from the others in its type, the state of its evolution and the basic nature of its activity, all of which influence the choice of the form of governance. The challenge of governance for ITC therefore lies in fashioning a model that addresses the uniqueness of each of its businesses and yet strengthens the unity of purpose of the Company as a whole.

Since the commencement of the liberalisation process, India's economic scenario has begun to alter radically. Globalisation will not only significantly heighten business risks, but will also compel Indian companies to adopt international norms of transparency and good governance. Equally, in the resultant competitive context, freedom of executive management and its ability to respond to the dynamics of a fast changing business environment will be the new success factors. ITC's governance policy recognises the challenge of this new business reality in India.

Definition and Purpose

ITC defines Corporate Governance as a systemic process by which companies are directed and controlled to enhance their wealth generating capacity. Since large corporations employ vast quantum of societal resources, ITC believes that the governance process should ensure that these resources are utilised in a manner that meets stakeholders' aspirations and societal expectations. This belief is reflected in the Company's deep commitment to contribute to the "triple bottom line", namely the conservation and development of the nation's economic, social and environmental capital.

Core Principles

ITC's Corporate Governance initiative is based on two core principles. These are :

  • Management must have the executive freedom to drive the enterprise forward without undue restraints; and
  • This freedom of management should be exercised within a framework of effective accountability.

ITC believes that any meaningful policy on Corporate Governance must provide empowerment to the executive management of the Company and simultaneously create a mechanism of checks and balances which ensures that the decision making powers vested in the executive management is not only not misused, but is used with care and responsibility to meet stakeholders' aspirations and societal expectations.

Cornerstones

From the above definition and core principles of Corporate Governance emerge the cornerstones of ITC's governance philosophy, namely trusteeship, transparency, empowerment and accountability, control and ethical corporate citizenship. ITC believes that the practice of each of these leads to the creation of the right corporate culture in which the company is managed in a manner that fulfils the purpose of Corporate Governance.

Trusteeship:

ITC believes that large corporations like itself have both a social and economic purpose. They represent a coalition of interests, namely those of the shareholders, other providers of capital, business associates and employees. This belief therefore casts a responsibility of trusteeship on the Company's Board of Directors. They are to act as trustees to protect and enhance shareholder value, as well as to ensure that the Company fulfils its obligations and responsibilities to its other stakeholders. Inherent in the concept of trusteeship is the responsibility to ensure equity, namely, that the rights of all shareholders, large or small, are protected.

Transparency:

ITC believes that transparency means explaining Company's policies and actions to those to whom it has responsibilities. Therefore transparency must lead to maximum appropriate disclosures without jeopardising the Company's strategic interests. Internally, transparency means openness in Company's relationship with its employees, as well as the conduct of its business in a manner that will bear scrutiny. We believe transparency enhances accountability.

Empowerment and Accountability:

Empowerment is an essential concomitant of ITC's first core principle of governance that management must have the freedom to drive the enterprise forward. ITC believes that empowerment is a process of actualising the potential of its employees. Empowerment unleashes creativity and innovation throughout the organisation by truly vesting decision-making powers at the most appropriate levels in the organisational hierarchy. ITC believes that the Board of Directors are accountable to the shareholders, and the management is accountable to the Board of Directors. The Company believes that empowerment, combined with accountability, provides an impetus to performance and improves effectiveness, thereby enhancing shareholder value.

Control:

ITC believes that control is a necessary concomitant of its second core principle of governance that the freedom of management should be exercised within a framework of appropriate checks and balances. Control should prevent misuse of power, facilitate timely management response to change, and ensure that business risks are pre-emptively and effectively managed.

Ethical Corporate Citizenship:

ITC believes that corporations like itself have a responsibility to set exemplary standards of ethical behaviour, both internally within the organisation, as well as in their external relationships. The Company believes that unethical behaviour corrupts organisational culture and undermines stakeholder value.