Will Meta give in to shareholder pressure on governance?

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Take a look at this analysis from Charles Radclyffe examining the growing shareholder scrutiny of Meta. Charles points out that the potential size of the metaverse is so massive that investors are particularly keen to look back at past management and governance failures to extrapolate how well businesses are likely to fair in this emerging world.

He’s also critical of the notion, promoted by Mark Zuckerberg, that this new world needs new forms of governance. Rather he says:

“I’m certain there is little about the metaverse that truly requires new forms of governance; rather we have many hundreds of years of governance of technological innovation that we could and should be drawing upon in order to ensure that we don’t sleep-walk into the dystopian future that Stephenson warned us about in his Snow Crash novel.” 

I agree that to be meaningful, governance structures like an Oversight Committee or Ethics Board need to have a strong, wide remit and be independent of the Board. But that means the Board has to give away power to this independent body and that’s a very uncomfortable (and unusual!) conversation for most Boards to have.

In the UK, there’s a team working on changing the Companies Act which would empower (or compel depending on your viewpoint) Boards to give equal weight to people, planet and profit. This would be a radical change and needs commitment from the Government which is likely to be some way off. But still, it feels like technology and society are leading us to evolve where power lies and what we expect from corporate governance.  If investors get behind this movement too and really push for change at mega corps like Meta then we may just see Boards being willing to share power.

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