Kyahn Williamson Purpose
Group Head - Investor & Corporate Communication
Kyahn leads WE Australia’s investor and corporate communication practice. She takes a multi-disciplinary approach to helping companies create a compelling brand narrative, and use media, digital and direct stakeholder relations to help companies and their leaders elevate their profile, build lasting reputations and drive meaningful connections with stakeholders.
Kyahn’s experience spans healthcare, superannuation and funds management, professional services. Over the past decade Kyahn has specialized in working with public listed companies, particularly in the technical fields and on a rapid growth path to design and run their IR programs, and has experience managing the communication campaigns to support IPOs, secondary capital raise and M&As, as well as managing communications that align with a company’s corporate governance principles.
Point of View
Purpose isn’t just a nice to have, it is increasingly integral to building value and loyalty with employees and consumers. With the rise of ESG it is also intrinsically linked to attracting long-term, like-minded investors.
But what happens when the actions of one individual or the collective culture of an organisation only pay lip service to purpose? The result can often be catastrophic, resulting in lasting damage to the reputation and commercial results of a firm.
In recent month’s there has been multiple examples of executive misconduct involving allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and bullying to culturally-insensitive actions which have dominated headlines and given rise to activist investors to use their voting power to demand change.
While these examples are extreme, it demonstrates that when the employees of a company or its culture is not aligned with purpose, it poses not only a reputational threat but a financial risk as well.
This is where purpose and corporate governance – the G in ESG - intersect.
If purpose is the North Star or guiding principle upon which a company defines its reason for being and the way it goes about its business, corporate governance is the frame that can provide the safeguard to ensure a company and its employees don’t stray from this path. It ensures that purpose runs deeper than words on a page.
Good corporate governance enhances a company’s ability to authentically and transparently deliver on purpose- the two should work hand in hand.
True purpose leaders understand it is important to understand purpose it is not just about what we tell people – but what actions sit behind this each and every day. They also need to recognise that if the governance frameworks that sit behind it are fallible, they are potentially at risk. This is why Boards – in collaboration with business leaders – need to be custodians of purpose.