Watson Helsby 2019/20 FTSE 100 Group Corporate Communications/Affairs Survey

This week we published the Watson Helsby 2019/20 FTSE 100 Group Corporate Communications/Affairs Director survey. The timing is sadly far from perfect, but it is currently impossible to predict when would be a good time, so we have decided not to delay any further.

The survey findings are based on interviews with over 60% of Group Corporate Communications/Affairs Directors and it is the richness and volume of the data that is derived from these interviews that imbues the survey with the detailed insight and comprehensive analysis that has helped make it an industry benchmark.  

We combine group corporate communications and corporate affairs (directors) together because although they are not synonymous, the remits of both are similar (corporate affairs tends to have responsibility for a broader group of stakeholders, most notably political audiences). That said, given that several companies in the FTSE 100 are not overly concerned with political audiences (until now!), the corporate communications function is more commonly found in the FTSE 100 than the corporate affairs function (52% vs 36%, the other 12% have other titles such as Corporate Relations).

The survey indicates that the function is now established and institutionalised in the FTSE 20, where its need for senior level executive representation is universally recognised and unquestioned. However that picture is not replicated in the lower reaches of the FTSE 100, where it remains a less valued (and perhaps less well understood) and established function and where it clearly has less representation in the C-suite (again with exceptions). This decline in perceived importance is more pronounced with corporate communications than it is with corporate affairs. The evidence for this observation is as follows. In the FTSE51-100:

  • Only 67% of companies have a senior level Director of Corporate Comms/Affairs (vs 100% in the FTSE20)
  • Membership of Executive Committee is 44% vs 58% in the FTSE20
  • Average team size is 36 vs 280 in the FTSE20
  • Average salary, which has dropped across the FTSE 100, is £210,000 vs £391,000 in the FTSE 20. 

It begs the question…is it just the harsh reality that corporate comms/affairs function will never be regarded as essential as other corporate functions (outside the big multi-nationals) or are there other factors at work? For instance the fact that, compared to other corporate functions, there is no widespread definition and universal understanding of the purpose and contribution of the function....and why it matters.

It undoubtedly has to work harder than other corporate functions at justifying itself, articulating its value and demonstrating its effectiveness and impact. But could it do this better? Yes I believe it could and there are undoubtedly opportunities for the function to articulate and demonstrate its value and thereby elevate itself and acquire more influence in the C-suite.

The survey identifies a number of themes and issues that we plan to explore in a series of blogs over coming weeks. In the current surreal circumstances some of these subjects may appear to exist in a previous world, no longer meaningful in today’s world. But we are all to hope that life will, at some stage, in the not too distant future, will return to some semblance of normal, although not without some profound changes I suspect.

For those that would like to DOWNLOAD THE SURVEY please click on the link

Stay well and make the most of self isolation – there are upsides.

#watsonhelsby #nickhelsby #ftse100 #survey #corporatecommunications #corporateaffairs

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