Sir Roger Carr stressed the importance of integrity for IR professionals during a speech yesterday, warning the audience that it must not give in to any management pressure to distort facts or hide bad news.
Carr, who is currently chairman of Centrica as well as president-elect of the Confederation of British Industry, used the speech at the IR Society’s annual conference to list the qualities he thought most important in an IRO.
‘In the outside world, it will be the reputation for truth and honesty that will continue to underpin the individual’s credibility… and this needs crisp and clear messaging, it needs rapidity of information delivery, good news and bad,’ said Carr.
‘Most importantly, however, it needs never giving up on personal integrity, whatever the management pressures are to distort facts or disguise the issues or – heaven forbid – bury the bad news. Because, at the end of the day, reputation is everything, and people representing a company have to have a reputation that lives with them, wherever they are, for truth, clarity and honesty.’
Turning to internal communications, Carr said transparency and honesty are just as important, especially when dealing with bad news.
‘If you disguise or sanitize it, what actually happens is that management, through lack of contact and understanding, becomes marginalized, and that in a way creates the foundations of the ivory-tower perspectives that would ultimately end in failure for everybody,’ he pointed out.
‘That requires the investor relations professional to have the courage to be the messenger, and to risk being a victim of friendly fire – it requires real character. And that’s a very important part of the role that is undertaken.’
Carr, one of the giant’s of the British business world, whose former roles include chairing Cadbury during Kraft’s takeover, began the speech by joking that investor relations was an ‘easy’ job.
‘All you need are excellent results, an impeccable management team, no surprises, no disappointments, an open-minded and supportive and unchanging group of shareholders,’ he said.
‘And you typically need them all joined together, and fully aligned by long-term goals and horizons. That’s the bit that makes it easy.’
[Article by Tim Human, IR magazine]